How many times have you heard “Dogs are a great way to prepare for having kids!”
This statement inevitably divides a room – on one side you will find those who completely agree…and on the other side you will find those who are snickering, rolling their eyes, and insisting that babies are babies and dogs are animals. Apples to oranges.
Now that I am a mom to both two-legged and four-legged, I can say I strongly agree with the former. Exhibit A – “Potty” Training.
I think Buffy was possibly the hardest dog to house train EVER. (I’m sure many of you would argue that your dog can claim that title.) She simply refused to potty outside. I tried EVERYTHING – I read every book; I took her out constantly; I rewarded with praise, rewarded with treats, rewarded with play. I took her out at all hours. I crate trained. Nothing worked. NOTHING. My husband and I were at our wit’s end. (Did I mention we lived on the second story of an apartment? This meant leashing Buffy up and crossing the parking lot ever trip outside…and then walking back and forth in a small patch of grass while being watched by neighbors and passing traffic.) Months and months on my hands and knees – patiently sopping pee up out of the carpet. Countless shopping bags full of poop.
Flash forward 5 years. Sebastian is of potty training age. Don’t get me wrong, we have had accidents. (I learned very quickly that the fact that he JUST pottied in the potty does not mean he will not potty again…right next the potty…before you can even get him re-diapered!) I know we are a long way from being done with this chapter in the parenting book, but this has been nothing….NOTHING! compared to the potty drama with Buffy. (The fact that Sebastian wears diapers that catch the messes does make a big difference!)
I like to think that Buffy was preparing me for Sebastian. Buffy and her house training was the first “parental” challenge I had to face in my life. The first instance where I was responsible for shaping another creature’s behavior. The first time in my life where I had met someone who I could fill my heart with so much love while at the same time inducing such hair-pulling frustration. I might have taught Buffy where to “do her business”…but she taught me the most important quality that every parent (no matter how many legs their baby has) must possess: