Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for over 10 years. Danielle also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find her on her blog, Some Puppy To Love, Twitter, or Facebook.
For my kids, summer equals water: the pool, ocean waves and even the garden hose will ensure sunny day amusement. Nearly every day since school ended has involved time spent in the pool. Our dogs, Hayley, the Chihuahua, and Django, the Lab, enjoy accompanying us to the pool. They sit with us by the water and join the party. They snack, run and play, so we thought they must want to swim, too. Especially Django—her breed is known to enjoy the water.
Dogs will naturally start “dog paddling” when they find themselves in water, but that doesn’t mean that they can stay afloat for any length of time, that they like being in the water or that they can safely swim.
To see if our dogs would even enjoy being in the water, we bought a child-sized pool, filled it halfway and placed Hayley in the water. She swam across it, paddling her little paws non-stop. She really seemed to enjoy it. But Django wanted to get out of the pool immediately. She didn’t like the water and didn’t attempt to swim. Later on, we let Hayley in our 4-foot pool with my daughter staying right by her side, ready to intervene if she needed help. Hayley made her way across the pool and then we took her out. She was one proud and cool girl.
Every dog is as individual as is each person, and although dogs of a specific breed may embody similar personality traits, they certainly won’t display every characteristic of their breed. The most important thing as a pet parent is tuning into your dog’s individual personality—just as you do your child.
Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.
After our daughter, Gabriella, spent nearly a year feeling hesitant around our 80-pound mush of a dog, Clyde, she is finally comfortable interacting with him—their bonding has begun! It is a wonderful accomplishment for our whole family.
How did we finally get to this place? Warm weather has definitely brought these two closer. Gabriella loves to fill her water buckets and have Clyde sit next to her. She and her brother, Tommy, also enjoy having Clyde as a spectator when they’re on the swing set. Just for sitting through the bucket-filling and swinging, Clyde gets treats and extra petting—a win for all!
We have also incorporated indoor bonding activities, including having Gabriella “brush” Clyde. She also loves to fill his water bowl. Both kids love to choose which treat Clyde will receive for brushing, sitting, etc.
We do have our setbacks, such as when Clyde gets so excited about his treats that he accidentally forgets what “gentle” means when taking treats from Gabriella’s hand. In this situation, we ask Gabriella to put the treat in Clyde’s bowl and all is well again. We make frequent trips to the pet supply store, where Gabrielle enjoys shopping for items for Clyde ranging from toys to treats.
If your child and pet are slow to bond, hang in there! As in our family’s case, sometimes bonding just doesn’t happen right away. When it does, it’s there to stay, and the love and memories formed between a child and their pet will last forever.
In this blog series, Sharon Discorfano, Esq., a Government Relations Intern at the ASPCA, will discuss her experiences with helping her nephew make food choices for better health and animal welfare. For more information about Sharon’s animal-related projects, please visit sharondiscorfano.com or follow her on Twitter @shadisco.
Now that Nicky’s getting older, our family has started seeking opportunities for him to meet farm animals by visiting animal sanctuaries. The beauty of visiting sanctuaries is that visitors interact with animals who live in natural settings that allow them the basic freedoms and care all animals deserve. Additionally, each animal comes with his or her own compelling story. Our own little Nickster prays at night for “Nick the horse who got burned” in a barn fire. When children have an opportunity to give a pig a belly rub, or pet a chicken, or rest a hand on a cow, suddenly what’s on their dinner plate has a name and a face. For those who choose to eat animal products, this instills a desire to ensure those animals were treated as humanely as possible.
Here’s an example of how incorporating healthier choices can be simple, empowering, and fun for kids and adults alike:
My parents watch Nicky after school, and they usually all have dinner together. My parents, who are not vegetarians, have chosen to participate in Meatless Monday to reduce meat consumption by committing to one meat-free day each week. Nicky was absolutely delighted when we suggested he be “in charge” of Meatless Mondays at the house! In the beginning, it was mostly about reminding Nana and Papa to order a pizza—hold the pepperoni! Now, his role has expanded to more creative meal planning for Monday night each week. Go, Nicky!
Lisa Jakub is a writer, retired actor, wife and dog-mom. You can read more from her at LisaJakub.net and see photos of her dog on Facebook or Twitter.
We all have mentors in our lives: someone who exemplifies a better way of moving through the world, a better way of living with an open heart and a better way of embracing joy. I found my mentor when I rescued a 7-year-old dog.
I adopted Grace a few years ago. She had been in pretty rough shape and judging by her enthusiasm for dumpsters, had likely been living on the streets for a while. I thought I was the one saving her.
When Grace came home, I was still learning how to reconcile my past with my new life. After working as a child actor for 18 years, I decided to retire from the film industry and find a path that felt more authentic to me. I left everything that I knew, and moved from Los Angeles to Virginia to start over.
Grace seems to understand the importance of both acknowledging one's past and letting it go. Although she has terrible nightmares and lingering issues from apparent abuse, her sense of gratitude for the present moment is always stronger than her fears. She never lets her issues stop her from living her life. And while I will never understand why the sight of a garbage bag makes her flatten her ears and cower, she always bounces back moments later, returning to her preferred spot at my heels. That moment is gone, on to the next.
We both have new lives now, and Grace is my writing partner. She curls up next to my desk and inspires me to be honest on the page. She reminds me that we don't need to be defined by our past. We create our own story. Every day is a chance to start over. Grace has decided that her story is about joy. She spins in circles at the mention of a walk. Regular meals are a cause for wholehearted gratitude. A belly rub is the best thing imaginable.
Life is good for Grace. And life is good for me, because of Grace.