When your furry family members get displaced
A couple of years before our first grandchild was born, one of our daughters adopted a dog from a local shelter. “Reggie” was a strikingly handsome dog with an unknown, but clearly complicated, history. He was scared to go through half open doors and terrified by the low-battery chirp of a smoke detector. He almost never barked, and looked scared and apologetic when he did. But he had at one point been loved and well trained: he was impeccably housetrained and could sit, lie down, shake and beg on command. As he became confident that he was in a permanent, loving home, he learned to play and even bark without fear. Part cattle dog, he was smart and loyal, and, for this independent daughter, he was the perfect addition to her family—and ours.
Eventually, however, Reggie’s reign as the most charming addition to the family was threatened by the birth of our grandson. When Thanksgiving rolled around, the two of them were both visiting us. This was when the admittedly competitive daughter started a running list of Reasons Why Dogs Are Superior to Babies. Granted, at this point Reggie was clearly smarter and more capable than the 5-month-old grandson. It wasn’t hard for her to feel sure she was making a better choice in family expansion than her brother!
And so, in no particular order, here are ten points in favor of skipping the whole grandbaby thing and just heading to the shelter:
It took almost a year before my daughter conceded that her nephew might have an edge in some areas. One of them is pictured above: dogs will never be great artists!
Why is this story included on a grandparenting blog? Because a new grandchild creates changing family dynamics that aren't limited to the new roles of parents and grandparents. It's important to be aware of the ways that aunts and uncles, cousins and, yes, even pets, are affected.
Do you have a family member who prefers dogs to babies? Let me know in the comments!