2. Feeding Time.
This is going to be one of those posts where people tell me to never have children. But in this regard, I think dogs are more difficult than children.
Lily was the first puppy my husband and I had ever been responsible for on our own. Sure, we had dogs when we were little, but we were only in charge of petting and playing. Someone else took care of the feeding. Now we were the ones in charge of the health and well-being of a little pup.
We thought we were being very careful. We paid a little extra for the “natural” dog food. We even gave her the fancy stuff out of the can. We checked the back of said can to determine just the right amount to give her. In teeny tiny print, it said feed the dog 1/2 of the can twice a day. So we did that.
Lily would wolf her food down in two seconds and be scrounging around the kitchen hoping for more. We assumed that was just typical dog behavior and didn’t give it much thought.
Then she started getting skinnier. I didn’t notice at first. I went away for a trip and when I came back, I realized that I could see her little bones through her fur.
What had we done? We decided immediately that we would feed her more food and more often until she bulked up a bit. As we began our new routine, I decided to read that teeny tiny print again to see where we had gone wrong. Below the instructions, in even smaller writing, it said, “Double this amount for puppies.”
Oops. Mystery solved. We were essentially, unintentionally, starving our little dog. It broke my heart to know that we had screwed up on one of the fundamental things we were supposed to provide to this little animal that depended on us.
This was also a huge wake up call and made us realize how little we knew about raising pups (or babies, for that mater). We got several books, watched The Dog Whisperer, and generally consumed every bit of advice on raising a dog that we could. The tough part about dogs, vs. babies, is that the dog will never be able to verbally tell us what is wrong. A baby will cry when it needs one of those fundamental needs met, but with Lily, we didn’t even realize there was a problem until we saw her bones through her fur.
My husband and I truly couldn’t love that puppy more if she was our own baby. I think our guilt over this early years feeding mishap has led us to over-compensate and give her bits of anything we’re eating at anytime. She gets a special seat in the car, doggy outings, and even sleeps in between us in bed. This is probably where you say, “You guys shouldn’t have kids.”