May 15

Pets and babies – it’s a yes from me!

by LifeLoveLaura on May 15, 2013

When I was a little girl all I ever wanted was a kitten or a puppy. I begged and begged and the answer from my dad was always “no, you won’t look after it.” Mum and dad came up with the perfect compromise…

My addictive personality showed even as a 6 year old as it was impossible to give up my dummy. The pet thing came as the perfect bribery technique for my parents – if I gave up my dummy I could have a hamster. It wasn’t quite a kitten but it did the trick! Each night I slept without my dummy, mum would add an imaginary body part to an imaginary hamster. When the imaginary hamster was complete I could go and choose my prize – a real baby hamster! If I cried for my dummy at any point, I could have it but a leg or head (of the imaginary hamster, not mine) would be taken away making it longer before I got my new little friend. With a few blips and a few severed body parts, I finally got there, becoming best friends with a little golden hamster called Dodo, named after my dummy that had gone to dummy heaven!

Source

Source

The hamster calmed my kitty passions for a short while but then we went to stay with a friend of my dad’s for a few days. BIG mistake as far as mum and dad were concerned. Their friend’s cat had just had nine kittens and I became so attached to one of them I couldn’t leave without it. Thankfully my mum was on my side this time as I’d proven that I could take care of another little being with Dodo. Being an expert at wrapping my dad around her little finger, she managed to talk dad into letting me take a kitten home. Score!

My black and white kitten, Smudge, was my new best friend and growing up together was something I cherished. Having a little friend to care for, cuddle and love was so rewarding. I had him right up until starting my A-Levels in 2000. He had to be put to sleep on a Sunday afternoon after having an awful sudden embolism and after nine years of having him around, it was devastating. I had lost my best friend.

Fast forward to October 2010 when Big T and I bought our first house together. We had spoken about getting a dog but it was only in passing, nothing was set in stone. A couple of days after our first Christmas in our new home together however, I made an appointment to go and see a gundog breeder near York. Big T sternly told me “we’re only going to see the dogs, we’re not coming home with one.” When we got there we were greeted by a gorgeous 18 week old bouncing Labrador puppy and the rest is history! Daisy dog came home with us that night and she has been part of the furniture ever since. She sleeps on our bed snuggled up on our feet and she’s curled up on my lap, yes ON MY LAP, as I type. She is the friendliest dog in the world. I can’t say she’s the most well trained but she does know how to sit and jump on demand. She knows the words ‘no,’ and ‘toilet’ and she will lick you to death. Her tennis ball is her most favourite thing in the world and she will have you playing fetch literally all day. She’s not that fussed about her food but she will happily stick her snotty nose into your dinner. Long story short, she’s a little bit crazy (ok, a lot crazy) but this is the way we like her and she more than does for us!

Puppy Daisy

Puppy Daisy

When we broke the news to my parents that we had gone and got a dog, my dad’s reaction was “what the fuck have you done that for?!” My brother interrogated us with “what are you going to do when you have kids and have to deal with a baby and a dog?!” All in all, everybody told us what a big mistake we’d made but we didn’t let it phase us. Daisy was the best thing EVER and she still is. She’s more than a pet to us, she’s part of the family and I just love to see her interacting with Little T.

When we introduced her to Little T she took to him straight away and they’ve become the best of friends. His face lights up when he sees her. He is at that age now where he grabs and chews everything within a 3 mile radius so Daisy has been known to have her ears pulled and her eyeballs chomped. I wish I was joking with that one, finding your baby with his mouth around your Labrador’s eyeball whilst you briefly turn your back is a little bit unnerving! The word ‘deviant’ springs to mind! Daisy, on the other hand, doesn’t bat an eyelid when Little T yanks at her lugs or her tail, she has the patience of a saint. In fact, I think she quite likes it. Whilst out on walks Daisy makes sure she proudly trots along next to Little T’s pram and she loves to lick his little feet when they’re out on show. There is definitely a mutual liking for each other and one that will see Little T through into his junior school years.

Baby Tilly

Baby Tilly

We also have a lady tabby cat called Tilly. Along with Daisy, she is very much a people animal. She loves human company and is very fussy. I often wake up in the night with her curled up on the small of my back. When I was pregnant, although uncomfortable for me, she would love to snooze on my bump. I’d often have to shoo her off when I woke up to turn over in the early hours. Little T loves his kitty too, although she won’t let him get too close, I’m not sure if she has figured out what he is yet!

To some, having an animal around a tiny newborn baby is something they would never dream of but to Big T and I it was never going to be a big deal. In fact, quite the opposite. Being the massive control freak that I am we got Daisy when we did with forward planning in the forefront of our minds. We got her a year before our wedding and we knew that as soon as we were married we wanted to have a baby, all being well. Fortunately all was well and very quickly I fell pregnant meaning that Daisy was the perfect age for a little person to come along – she was well out of the pooing all over puppy phase but young enough to grow up with a Mini K. I’m a firm believer that growing up in an environment that’s too clean breeds more illnesses, a little bit of mud and pet hair doesn’t do any harm. (Obviously some children have allergies, I’m not arrogant enough to dispute that. In their cases they’re better off well away from fuzzballs!) I’m not saying I sprinkle Little T’s lunch with cheveux de Labrador, I’m just saying that when he’s playing on the living room floor he may get the odd blonde strand stuck to his clothes or face. He’s absolutely fine with it. Of course we bleach and disinfect the areas of the home that need to be, I’m a bit of a bugger for that and always have been as germs freak me out. But generally, having pets around our home doesn’t do any of us any harm.

A two week old Little T and his friend Daisy

A two week old Little T and his friend Daisy

I also think that as a little girl, having pets from the age of six taught me about all of the important things in life early on. From a very young age I learnt to love and care for something else but myself. I learnt how to be responsible and put the needs of something else first. I didn’t always want to clean out my hamsters cage but my parents would remind me that I wanted the hamster so I had to take good care of it. They never gave in and cleaned him out themselves. When my hamster had to be put down, although such a small pet, I had to deal with losing something that meant a lot to me. Bringing my kitten home with me at the age of nine and him naturally being a more time consuming pet, I had to read books on how to look after him (before the age of the internet), learn how to toilet train him and how to make sure he came back home when he went out for a wander. Once again, on that horrid afternoon when he had to be put to sleep I had to deal with the grief of losing my best little furry friend. It’s a cruel lesson to learn and a lot for a child to take on board but having a pet really does teach a child about the realities of life and death. Some would say responsibility and death are things a child shouldn’t have to deal with but I believe they will thank you for it when they’re old enough to understand more.

So, we have a Labrador and a tabby cat, my parents have two cats, even Little T’s child minder has rabbits and guinea pigs that the kids can play with so Little T will struggle in this family if he isn’t an animal lover when he’s a bit older. I will of course be sure to teach him that not every dog is as happy and easy going as Daisy. On the other hand, if his face is anything to go by when he sees one of his furry friends, he’s already a big fan and I’m enjoying watching Little Mr T grow up with his animal pals.

Laura x

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsty Crofts May 15, 2013 at 9:45 am

I’m so with you on all if this! Our kitties are part of our family and still will be when we’re luck enough to have little people join us. We’ve properly smothered them with cuddles & kisses in the hope that they’ll take to children too. Pets make a house a home : ) xx

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LifeLoveLaura May 15, 2013 at 10:11 am

They really do! I always say that the house wouldn’t be the same without Daisy and Tilly around. Pets make it such a warmer and more fun place :)

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Wry Mummy February 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Lovely post, made me wonder if we should get a small animal. Can’t cope with a dog or cat at the mo, three kids take up all my bandwidth and cleaning power. Maybe a tortoise…x
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