Why Penny Is (Almost) Like My Second Child

The post Why Penny Is (Almost) Like My Second Child by Savanna Stanfield appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Hi, I’m Savanna! Read my introduction to learn more about me and my spunky Chihuahua mix, Penny.

What I’m about to say may ruffle some feathers, but please hear me out by reading the whole thing. When I became a mother to an actual human child, it used to bother me hearing people referring to dogs as children. I always thought, “That is in no way the same thing.”

But then, when my daughter was 7 years old, we got Penny. I’ve had Penny for 3 ½ years now. I still don’t think of Penny as another one of my children per se, but I do understand now why some people might refer to their dogs as their children.

Here’s why that sentiment originally bothered me, and how my feelings have since changed after caring for both a child and a dog at the same time.

Why Referring to Dogs as Children Bothered Me

If you’ve been following along with me thus far, you’ll know that I used to not love dogs the way that I do now. I had my first (and only) child in 2013, and as is typical with parenthood, my whole life changed. I was now responsible for another person, keeping my daughter safe and raising her to adulthood.

I had always grown up with pets in the home, including a cat and a dog, and I do think that taking care of a pet prepares you for parenthood in a sense. After all, you have to feed them, potty train them, take them for medical care, etc., just like you would a child.

But as any pet and human parent knows, taking care of a child is drastically different than taking care of a pet. So when people without children would refer to their pets as children, it would just bother me a little bit because I know it’s totally different.

I certainly wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it or call them out if I heard someone refer to their dog as their child, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me a little bit, especially since this was before I had a dog of my own.

That lump under the blanket is my daughter.
That lump under the blanket is my daughter.

How I Feel Now

After taking care of Penny for so long now and building a relationship with her, I can start to understand why some people refer to their dogs as children. I even read an interesting article that shows that younger generations (i.e., Millennials and Gen Z) are choosing to have pets over children, and dogs and cats being more affordable than children is a big factor in that decision.

Being a Millennial myself, I thought, “Maybe I was being a bit judgemental about people who refer to their pets as children.” After all, I don’t know their situation. Some people don’t want kids for whatever reason, some people can’t have children, etc. It’s none of my business. If they want to refer to their pets as their kids, they aren’t doing any harm to anyone.

But me having both a human child and a dog, I’m able to see how the two are a bit different, which is why I don’t necessarily see Penny being my child in the same way that my daughter is my child. I have to tell myself that just because I don’t see Penny as a child in the same way, it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t love her. It’s just a different kind of love than I have for my daughter. One thing I do know for sure is that I can certainly feel the love that both Penny and my daughter have for me.

You can always find them napping together.
You can always find them napping together.

Penny, My (Almost) Second Child

Now that my daughter is older and is starting to rely on me less, I’m actually glad that Penny needs someone to take care of her. It makes me feel a little sad that my daughter is growing up and becoming more independent. I’ve gotten so used to taking care of a child that I feel a little lost when I don’t have to take care of her as much.

At least having Penny to take care of gives me more “motherly” tasks to do. After all, taking care of Penny is sort of like taking care of a toddler. When she gets quiet and I haven’t seen her in a while, I immediately get suspicious because I know Penny’s probably doing something she shouldn’t do.

Whereas a toddler might draw on the walls, flush random things down the toilet, or give themselves a makeover, I’ve found Penny digging in the trash can, standing on the coffee table eating my daughter’s sandwich that she left unsupervised, or even digging around in our cats’ litter boxes. Baby gates are no longer used for my daughter, but for my dog, to keep her out of said litter boxes.

Having both a child and a dog, I’m never lacking a dull moment. It is almost like having two children in the house. My daughter has expressed that she doesn’t want a sibling anyway, which is fine with my husband and I, so it’s good that she has a dog to grow up with. The two of them are best friends, even if they aren’t “siblings”.

So now I understand the sentiment of people referring to dogs as children a little bit more, especially if they don’t have children of their own. As long as the love and care is there, who cares if it’s an actual human child or a dog?

The post Why Penny Is (Almost) Like My Second Child by Savanna Stanfield appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Ned, Fred, and Bed: An Unconventional Approach to Toilet Training

The post Ned, Fred, and Bed: An Unconventional Approach to Toilet Training by Dr. Karyn Kanowski, BVSc MRCVS (Vet) appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Hi, I’m Dr. Karyn! Read my introduction to learn more about me and my five funny dogs, Poppy, Bailey, Kodah, Ned, and Fred.

I hate when people use stereotypes on dogs. I hate it even more when they turn out to be right! Chihuahuas have long been labeled as yappy, bitey, demanding, and notoriously hard to toilet train, and Ned & Fred have lived up to all of these. Fortunately they are also loving, loyal, affectionate, and highly entertaining.

Toilet training has been one aspect of dog ownership that I thought I’d mastered, with my love of crates playing a significant role in my success. Dogs usually avoid toileting in their bed, so keeping them in their crate overnight, and for half an hour after meals, meant that I could take them outside from the crate and celebrate when they went to the toilet outside.

The problem with a tiny Chihuahua pup is that, even in quite a small crate, they can maintain a good distance between themselves and any offensive waste, so we weren’t getting the usual success with this method. Fortunately, they had settled well in their crates overnight, feeling safe and secure in their little bedroom, and seemed happy to be left in there when we went out. So this is when we tried something unconventional.

Swapping Crate Training for Bed Training

It started with Ned, who was the first in our house, and the first in our bed. Snuggled close against my chest at night, he never went to the toilet in our bed, and always waited for me to take him outside in the morning. Ned will only get up and down from our bed using a little step, and he has to squeeze past me to get to it. Sometimes he’ll wake me up earlier than I’d like, by gently pushing on my hip, but he has never had an accident in the bed.

Ned can't sneak out when he sleeps like this!
Ned can’t sneak out when he sleeps like this!

So, when Fred came along, after he had proven content to be left in the crate without fuss, we tried the same method of overnight toilet training. And it has worked…sort of. Fred is fearless, and has no hesitation in launching off our rather tall bed, so I have a very small window of time between hearing him hit the floor, and getting him downstairs and outside. I am not always successful.

Another hurdle is the incredible stubbornness of Chihuahuas. I have stood outside for 30 minutes in sleet and rain, with Fred staring back at me, surprisingly unfazed by the inclement weather. Within five minutes, I find a sneaky puddle or nugget behind a door, which he manages to do unseen!

Toilet Training Obstacle Course

The problem with these tiny dogs is that it’s a lot easier to spot a big dog in the act, allowing you to say “stop!” and take them straight outside. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve spotted a pool of urine behind the sofa or a tiny poop beside my desk, when I was literally sitting right there! How did I not see it happen??

The result of their sneaky habits meant that they were receiving strong, positive reinforcement when they were toileting outside, and a neutral response to going inside, so there was no real deterrent to pooping in the warm comfort of home. And so, another new approach was needed: physical obstacles.

Ned jail - keeping them out of my office
Ned jail – keeping them out of my office

We’ve put up a stair gate to block access to my office (which, to be fair, is where the cats’ litter boxes are, so they could be forgiven for thinking that room is a toilet), used pillows to stop them getting behind the sofas, and have even erected a blockade around the base of our bed to prevent underbed poops. By preventing access to their favorite indoor latrine areas, we have the opportunity to spot the Chihuahuas searching for the ‘ideal spot’, allowing us to turf them outside.

Some clever adjustments have 'poop-proofed' the underside of our bed.
Some clever adjustments have ‘poop-proofed’ the underside of our bed.

The Upside of the Tiny Dog

Despite the frustration of taking over a year to housetrain Fred (though there is still the occasional indoor accident), one benefit of the tiny dog is that the accidents are also tiny. Their other saving grace is that, luckily for them, even when they’re naughty, they are so irresistibly cute!

Irresistibly adorable
Irresistibly adorable

Dr Karyn signature

The post Ned, Fred, and Bed: An Unconventional Approach to Toilet Training by Dr. Karyn Kanowski, BVSc MRCVS (Vet) appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Would I Be Friends With My Dogs If They Were People? Probably Not

The post Would I Be Friends With My Dogs If They Were People? Probably Not by Allison Dorsey appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.

Hi, I’m Allison! Read my introduction to learn more about me and my three mixed-breed dogs from Thailand, Jelly, Lorraina, and Manic.

Dogs have always been seen as the ideal companions for people. While some breeds are mainly used as working dogs, their loyalty and dedication remain unmatched. People who have dogs as pets consider them family members and believe that if they were people, they would be best friends.

However, when I think about my dogs and their individual personalities, I really struggle to believe we would be best friends if they were people. To be honest, I don’t think I would like them at all.

Jelly: The Clingy Bestie Who Cannot Survive Without You

On the surface, Jelly seems like the perfect introverted friend. You know the ones I am talking about—the friend who does not want to go to a restaurant but would much rather get a pizza and binge-watch the latest TV series. Jelly would be the friend who would exercise with you out of love but is completely fine lounging in bed all day. She is not high-maintenance and has no embarrassing habits.

But since Jelly is a Velcro dog, she would be the clingy friend. A very clingy friend.

If Jelly were human, I could imagine her texting me every 10 minutes to ask me what I was doing. If I were to hang out with someone else for a few hours, she would make me feel guilty about it—maybe even start crying because I was ditching her and getting a new BFF. If Jelly and I were to go to a party or a bar, I know she would follow me continuously, even if I went to the restroom. She would also drop hints that she would want to go home after being out for 30 minutes.

Jelly, as a person, would need constant reassurance about your friendship but will still doubt your loyalty.

Lorraina: Always Looking for Trouble or a Fight

Lorraina sitting outside
Lorraina is a bit of a troublemaker

Lorraina is not a fan of other dogs. She was not like this when she was younger, but due to her small size, she got picked on by other dogs. This fueled her rage and made her distrustful of other dogs—no matter what size. She is wonderful with people, but if she sees another dog, she is going after them.

This would make having Lorraina as a friend very difficult. I can imagine us walking around, and if someone accidentally steps on her foot, she is going to punch them in the face without hesitation. If we would go to a bar and someone looked at her for too long, I bet she would grab the nearest beer bottle and smash them over the head. Lorraina would definitely be that person who would pull the fire alarm in a building or slip an unpurchased item into someone’s bag to set off the security alert at a store.

Legally, it would be unwise to have Lorraina as a friend.

Manic: Partying Like It Is 1999…All the Time

Manic sitting outside
Manic has truly earned his name!

Manic is usually high-energy and is up for anything and everything! As long as it was not raining, he would spend the whole day outside, chasing chipmunks and squirrels, digging holes, and running around like crazy.

As a human friend, Manic would be up until the crack of dawn. He would be the type of person who shows up at your house at 10 pm and tells you about an underground party that is about to start. He would be the type of person who would do donuts in a parking lot or skinny dip in a neighbor’s pool. Manic would live life to the fullest at full volume.

If Manic got caught doing things he shouldn’t have, he would use his charm and looks to try to get out of the situation. He would flash a smile and run his fingers through his hair, saying things like, “Gee, I didn’t know how loud I was being” or “Gosh, I didn’t know what the speed limit was on this road.” But the next day, he was out again, running red lights, breaking into amusement parks, or doing keg stands.

Manic would be, simply put, too exhausting for me to befriend.

Do I Even Like My Dogs if I Don’t Want Them as Friends?

Of course. Without a question. I love each of my dogs and their personalities because they are dogs. Yes, Jelly is a Velcro dog, and I almost trip over her because she follows me around. But I love her. Yes, Lorraina will lunge at any dog that isn’t Jelly or Manic, hoping to draw blood. But I love her. And, yes, Manic lives his life with his paw on the gas pedal. But I love him.

However, if they were people, I would have to pass on building friendships with them.

The post Would I Be Friends With My Dogs If They Were People? Probably Not by Allison Dorsey appeared first on Dogster. Copying over entire articles infringes on copyright laws. You may not be aware of it, but all of these articles were assigned, contracted and paid for, so they aren’t considered public domain. However, we appreciate that you like the article and would love it if you continued sharing just the first paragraph of an article, then linking out to the rest of the piece on Dogster.com.