Welcome to the family

Two girls and a dog dressed for Halloween

We have a new member of the family — a terrier/hound mix we recused from a shelter near our house. We’ve been thinking of getting a dog for sometime, and by “thinking” I mean our oldest daughter has been pestering us for nearly a year to get a four-legged friend she could snuggle with.

It’s been a few months since we welcomed Belle into our home and she’s fit in like the princess she’s named after. She loves belly rubs, randomly lays down for one wherever she can fit … and not fit in some cases. She knows what’s allowed and not allowed and has been a great addition to the family.

I think she’s such a great fit because she isn’t perfect. She had a couple of teeth pulled because she was trying to bust out of the cage she was in to tend to her 12 puppies. She has a scar near her mouth from the arrow some heartless person shot into her before she was rescued. With all her flaws, she’s family.

We went to three different shelters and found her at the last. She wasn’t the 30–40 pound dog we were looking for, but she somehow won the heart of our oldest first and the rest of us soon followed. She has a bark that can scare the paint off the walls, but she has the heart of a mother and I know she’ll protect our little ones if she’s ever called upon to do so.

Sure she sheds like she gets paid to do it (she’d be a millionaire if she did) and there might be an extra hole in the side yard, but the pluses outweigh the minuses and bringing her home is one of the best family decisions we ever made.

Pet ownership is teaching our girls a bit about responsibility too. They’re on water bowl duty; they take turns feeding her and hopefully one of these days they will help me on clean up duty (OK, that’s funny… I digress) in the backyard.

We’re lucky not to have any dog-related allergies in our house and she’s helped us understand not everything goes according to plan … and that’s just fine. I’m never going to call her a fur baby, but she’s just as spoiled as the other two princesses in our house and that’s alright by me.

So I’m supposed to have a parenting tip in these blogs, so here goes: Take the leap and get your kids that pet they’ve been asking for. It’s a hassle sometimes and it can get a little pricey, but when you see your kids smiling, laughing and playing with their new pet, all of that other stuff seems to disappear. Heck, it even gets them away from electronics and gives you some quality time when you take your version of Belle for a walk.

– Jim Pesta is a Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

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