It seems to me like the dog might be able to provide the kids with more than you can ever give. This is in no way a slight to your mothering! I have witnessed it first hand with my 3 1/2 year old. We had a dog from before her birth until he passed away last year. This guy showed her unconditional love; he was a "real" imaginary friend to talk with; they went "running" together; he was the reason that she first crawled, first walked, first saw the benefit of fine motor skills. He is the reason she first understood real loss and heaven.
We can never teach what dogs can teach - even when we think we're trying! I think your kids are probably older and you're hoping the dog will teach them responsibility. My suggestion would be that they all have 2 days of the week that they "have" to feed, walk, and play with the dog. This should eliminate the sibling infighting and eliminate you constantly getting "stuck" with the care. Let's face it - you will do 90% of the alpha work, but it will be nice to have a second in command! After 11 months without a dog, we found that we needed the love and the "distraction" of another being in the house. Life is chaotic enough. It's great when tempers flare and you have a four footed friend to come into the room as a negotiator, peace maker, friend, or just another body to witness that life can sometimes be tough.
One other recommendation is that an older dog (3-5) who is in a foster home is a great way to go. Before we brought our new dog home, we knew he was house-broken, cat-friendly, lived with other kids, a peach in the car, and was flexible to all sorts of dogs at the dog park. Would my child have loved a puppy? Of course. Would I have enjoyed picking up pee in the house for months or going out with the dog in the middle of the night or God forbid, having another being snatch a favorite toy or cookie out of the tempermental toddler's hands? No way.
I really think it's all a matter of whether or not you can put another 2 30-45 minutes into your day to care for the dog. The rest is gravy. I'm a 60 hour a week working Mom and I find the walks with the dog and my daughter are some of the calmest parts of my day. We'll be having our 2nd child in late September and hopefully another one in another couple of years. Maybe then I'll change my tune, but I doubt it. Having a dog is one of the things that keeps me most grounded and most unconditionally loved.
Thanks so much for this post, Kellie! It's very insightful and I totally agree with getting an older dog...I think I keep thinking puppy and the thought of having to potty train and such is daunting. I also agree with the teaching aspect and that's one of the big reasons I'm even considering bringing a dog into the current chaos. I feel that having and loving a dog is a special gift for children. They bring something into your life that is amazing and something that I can't offer to them.
That said, we had a great weekend with Mollydawg! I still have her here today as her dad is coming home this afternoon. She's a lover and I thoroughly enjoyed having her here. The kids loved it, too! She would run into their rooms and snuggle with them in their beds - one right after the other. I couldn't have asked for a better girl:) Here's a pic of my girls and their friend, who is the daughter of Mollydawg's dad.
I haven't decided yet if I'm ready for the commitment, but I'm certainly feeling that it would be ok - just need to find the right doggie for our family!
I have a 3 yr old son, and 5 yr old daughter. An 8 year old Jack Russell/black lab mix, and an almost 5 month old golden retriever, lab mix. We got her at four months old from the shelter. We had three weeks of decreasing accidents in the house. and have had 5 weeks of none. The kids are a huge help in taking care of and keeping an eye on Cinnamon. She matches them in energy level. Something I can't even do. She's teaching them empathy, and unconditional love. She's even preparing my 5 yr old for what it will be like to lose your teeth. Bailey (my 5 year old even understands what a uterus is for. (well....partly) the spay discussion really stuck with her..... maybe I shouldn't have given her all the details. Even the idea of saving a shelter dog was/is important to them.
Then I think of the health benefits for me. I was even on anxiety medication. I'm learning to "meditate" with my girls (Willoughby and Cinnamon) My sleep is much more restful - mainly because I don't have the heart to move their heads off my calves. They force me to be still, calm my mind and just relax.
Hi Crystal, turn your TV on and watch National Geographic Channel "the Dogwhisperer"
and let your kids watch every episode! They will learn, enjoy and know how to handle a dog big or small you can also go to the website of Cesar Millan.com and watch especially the old episodes
it's very educational and funny the kids in church do it even to eachother the way the dogwhisperer handles a dog with an attitude!! Hope this helps Kind regards Antoinette