My nickname is Cat, but I’m a dog person through and through. Comparable to a little boy’s knowledge of cars, I’m simply transfixed by all the different breeds and personalities of dogs. I can remember a babysitter once introducing me as “This is Cat, she knows more about dogs than anyone I know.” I was about nine at the time and was quietly surprised by the remark — didn’t everyone know about dog breeds?
My childhood pet collection ranged from hamsters to turtles to budgies but Oreo, our miniature poodle, was the center of my life. When he died (I was 20) I wept like I’ve never wept before. It was like losing a sibling. After university and moving away from home, I’ve not had the chance to have a dog again — renting flats doesn’t usually give you that option.
At seven months pregnant my husband and I decided we needed to fork out for the space and have moved into a rented house (with friendly landlords). The house is dilapidated but roomy, and there is a backyard. It’s in a quiet residential neighborhood near some woods and a large recreation ground. Ideal for kids…and ideal for dogs!
The backstory on getting my puppy while pregnant
I had seen the advertisement in the paper a few weeks earlier … “I’ll just drive over and have a look,” I said to myself. “If there is one thing wrong with the place, the people or the dogs I won’t get one.” Famous last words. A week later we came home with Roscoe.
My overwhelming desire to have a dog blinded me from all the reasons why I shouldn’t get one. Namely, being pregnant. “A baby and a puppy, are you crazy?!” was the response I got from several people. How would I manage a yapping puppy and a crying baby? How would I walk the dog and the buggy? How would I stop it from chewing the baby?
These questions bounced off me as if I was encased in an invisible happy bubble. “I. Don’t. Care.” And that’s really the overriding factor to getting a puppy while pregnant. You don’t care, because you are so focused on the puppy, totally high on re-directed maternal hormones, that you don’t even think about the baby. Which brings me to this:
Top 10 reasons why getting a puppy while pregnant is actually not such an insane idea:
- Good practice: Puppies need to be let out in the middle of the night to pee, they need feeding, stimulation, grooming, fussing, training – the list goes on. You’re constantly up and down providing for the puppy. It’s great practice for interrupted sleeps, patience and setting a routine. Their needs are very similar to what a baby demands.
- Distraction: If you are worried about pregnancy and becoming a mother, having a puppy will distract you from all that. You will forget you are pregnant entirely because you’ll be busy with the puppy.
- Exercise: Puppies and pregnant women are the perfect match in levels of fitness. Puppies shouldn’t be walked too much because their joints and bones are still soft and forming. Two twenty minute walks a day is sufficient – also the perfect amount for a pregnant woman and it gets you out even when you’re feeling super tired.
- They sleep a lot: Yes puppies can jump about and get excited, but for most of the day they sleep. You’ll still have time to obsessively clean your house before the baby comes.
- Trainability: Puppies follow their new human parents around like lambs to ewes. They are playful and unsure about life, but really want to please you. Now is the ideal time for training and setting the rules. If you set boundaries and rules now, the puppy will respect them and grow up to be a well trained adult dog.
- Friends for life: Your baby and puppy will grow up together as if they were siblings. Your baby won’t be afraid of dogs and will learn about caring for animals. Likewise, the puppy will grow up looking up to the baby as if he were the baby’s minder.
- Spare time: For the first month (at least) puppies really need to be in your company. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time, so if you are on maternity leave you’ll have the spare time to spend with the puppy. And after the birth, you’ll be at home with the new baby and dog.
- Mothering: I am positive the pregnancy hormones in my body are making me sing lullabies to Roscoe. I can’t help but cuddle and brush him, or settle him down when he is in a strop (“chew time is over!’). The puppy definitely brings out those hidden mothering skills you never knew you had.
- Prepares the father/partner: Fathers-to-be benefit from having a puppy because they’ll get their first dose of feeling neglected while you spend all your energy and thoughts on the puppy. They also must deal with things like poo clean up, disruption when trying to simply watch TV or read the paper, new noises, laying down “the law”(no jumping up, no biting, teaching commands, etc), as well as gratification from witnessing their cuteness.
- New role: When the baby comes, suddenly there’s a new priority in your life – you are no longer number one. The baby’s needs come first, end of story. You get the same feeling with a puppy. If it needs to go to the vet, you take it straight away. If it needs special food, you buy that special food even if it’s expensive. Being 100% concerned for the welfare of someone else 24 hours a day is a new but nice feeling.
I am now due any day and Roscoe is four months old. He was the best decision I ever made and my husband thinks so too. We have no concerns about raising Roscoe with our baby because he brings us such happiness. There’s a niggling worry that I might not love the baby as much as I love Roscoe, but I hear the bond between mother and child (human child) is stronger than any other. However, a friend of mine has bought me a cuddly poodle costume for the baby…just in case.