Moms & Dads

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Is your child unpopular or emotionally stunted? Buy him a dog

It's almost like having another baby, making that decision to bring a dog into the family. But if you have a kid, it's almost inevitable that they'll ask for one. Then you'll see that saying no is not an option. Everyone's parents gets them a dog. Thus if you want to maintain custody of your child, you also have to get a dog.

I heard someone tell a guy this weekend that having a child is the best and the worst thing that will ever happen to you. Your child will bring you your highest highs, and quite possibly your lowest lows. A dog can also have this effect, especially one that poops on the floor.

But is there any other single decision (and sacrifice) you can make that will change your kid's life more?

Previous generations of families had more stay-at-home moms and more kids, so adding a dog or two was less of an ordeal, I think. Now, it's seen as a burden. If you work, you not only have to find a doggie daycare, you have to find one with a good curriculum.niceallieshot.jpg

My son begged for a dog for years. We told him he couldn't have a dog until he was 10. Then when he turned 10, we said, "No, not when you turn 10. You're really still just 9 plus 365 days. You have to wait until you've actually been 10 awhile!'' He cried. That probably wasn't a very happy birthday, come to think of it.

Anyway, that fall we finally brought home Allie from the Humane Society. She had some kind of hurricane refugee mystery surrounding her, as they claimed she was sent here from Alabama after Hurricane Katrina. But they also told us her name was Mary, and that's obviously a made-up name that no one would give a dog, so I'm not sure we can trust the hurricane story, either.

Creed wouldn't be the same kid without Allie. He just wouldn't. Allie is always by his side, and if he's not home, she drags a pair of his stinky shorts by her side. She doesn't even want me approaching him when he's sleeping, in case this might be the time I come in to his bedroom to kill him in his sleep.

He's not an unpopular or emotionally stunted kid. He's pretty normal. But Allie's brought so much to his life, it's hard to imagine the alternate reality where we said no.

For parents of troubled kids, a dog can work miracles. Sometimes it's that furry mutt that draws the kid out and helps them be who they're meant to be.

Read this story by Ginny Blansford in Newsweek for a great example. This little girl who was adopted after her first adoptive mom died finally wailed about her life circumstances when her beloved dog went missing. If you don't tear up reading this, then you are emotionally stunted and need a pet.

Here's an excerpt:

Liana came back into the house, sat on her new dog's bed and cried. In her four years with us, she had hardly ever cried. And she had hardly ever mentioned her adoptive mother, my best friend. I almost resented that she seemed to have moved past grief without a second thought. But now she sobbed. She howled. Her thick black hair stuck to her cheeks, wet with tears. She wrapped her arms around herself, then around me, squeezing hard. She cried for three hours—until well after John returned. "She's gone," Liana moaned. "My dog is gone. My mother is dead. I loved my dog. Why did my mother die?"

Categories: Brittany Wallman (160)


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About the authors
Gretchen Day-Bryant has a son in high school and a daughter in middle school. She’s lived to tell about the struggles of juggling little kids and work.
Joy Oglesby has a preschooler...
Cindy Kent Fort Lauderdale mother of three. Her kids span in ages from teenager to 20s.
Rafael Olmeda and his wife welcomed their first son in Feb. 2009, and he's helping raise two teenage stepdaughters.
Lois Solomonlives with her husband and three daughters.
Georgia East is the parent of a five-year-old girl, who came into the world weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces.
Brittany Wallman is the mother of Creed, 15, and Lily, 7, and is married to a journalist, Bob Norman. She covers Broward County government, which is filled with almost as much drama as the Norman household. Almost.
Chris Tiedje is the Social Media Coordinator and the father of a 7-year-old girl, and two boys ages 4 and 3.
Kyara Lomer Camarena has a 2-year-old son, Copelan, and a brand new baby.

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