How Our Disabled Dog Prepared Us To Be Parents

Okay I need to confess something: So far this parenting gig is pretty awesome.

Sure the first month was a nightmare, and my wife went through some heavy stuff early on.

I know I might have just jinxed it, but lately things have been pretty great. I love being a dad, and we love being parents.

I mean, just look how happy I look here:

You can see how much I love being a dad in her expression.
You can see how much I love being a dad from her expression.

Prior to having a kid, we were warned that once you have a kid, your life changes. Your world will revolve around them and your every free moment will belong to them. I really do see this point, and I think this is the part that takes the most getting used to for new parents.

For my wife and I however, this is not something that we haven’t faced before even prior to being married. In fact, for us adjusting to a baby came pretty natural, and it could be because had a little more practice compared to other new parents.

Practice in the form of a dog.

Yes, I know how taboo (and annoying) it can be when dog owners who don’t have kids compare having a dog to having kids.

I mean essentially you pick up their poop, bathe them, feed them, teach them to roll over, pretty much the same right?

But before I get put on a stake by an angry mob for my outrageous statement, please hear me out. As well, please allow me to dedicate this post to my dog, Owen.

IMG_9409

So let me start by going back a few years, where my pants were too baggy, and my hair was too long, and we were unknowingly put to the test for parenthood…

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We were playing fetch on a field with our dog Owen when suddenly he stumbles and somersaults while chasing after a tennis ball.

Dogs do not somersault. Their bodies just don’t bend that way. It’s almost as weird as us humans walking on all fours; it just doesn’t seem right.

I slowly walk towards him, thinking it was just another silly spill from our silly dog. I mean, this our three year old super puppy; who runs faster than the other dogs, jumps higher than an eight foot fence. He’ll just get back up and forget he even tumbled.

But something was wrong. He wasn’t getting up.

My mind went numb, and the slow walk towards him became a sprint. You know those moments when the volume in your head tunes out, and things go in slow motion? I was in one of those moments.

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Not the actual picture of the incident, here he’s much older and recovered

Our puppy looked up at me with two of his front legs holding himself up, and gave me this “What’s going on?” expression.

As I picked him up to rush him back to the house, I remember thinking, “Shit it’s a holiday, what do we do? Where do we take him?”

36 hours and two emergency veterinary clinics later, we learned that our dog had lost function from the hip down. It could be for just a few days, a month, or longer.

What. The. Hell.

Prior to our dog getting hurt, our stresses consisted of silly arguments and disputes that normal young couples fight over. Silly things like where should we go eat, what do you want to watch, etc.

As abrupt as he got injured, we were now talking about the cost of x-rays, MRIs, slings, wheelchairs, rehab, etc.  To quote a popular phrase during that era: “Shit just got real.”

Our daily lives and schedules were now devoted to our dog: carefully walking him, doing physio/exercise, making sure he ate quality food, taking him to frequent vet visits, etc.  In a sense, he really embodied a baby.

My then girlfriend (now wife) and I suddenly became more than just a couple. We now were now responsible for a dog with special needs. We were caregivers, but above all else, that was when we learned that we could count on one another to make things work no matter how tough things get. Dare I say, that was when I realized that one day, I know I can count on her to look out for me and our family.

Because he was injured, it not only brought us closer to each other, but also learn to split love and responsibility onto something else. And this is the practice that I was talking about.

I wrote this in a journal soon after the endeavour:

I am very fortunate not to be going through such an experience alone, as I am very grateful to have Jenn along the way. Every fear, every setback, every direction to go has been shared and experienced with Jenn, and I feel very lucky to have her through all of this. Even though she is Owen’s main owner, as he lives with her, I deeply feel that we’re in this together equally and wholeheartedly.

The past few days have allowed me to fully be confident of dark situations because I’m with Jenn. I’m so glad to be with her.

First off, I was a much better writer then compared to than I am now. Second, I think this was the turning point for me for a lot of things in life as it allowed me to understand what it means to share a responsibility, and share a life with someone. ☺️

Slowly he was able to recover and after two years he ended up recovering most of his movement, only requiring to wear one boot on one of his hind leg. And through countless Tony Stark-like boot prototypes (I think we had seven variations in total) he was a healthy happy dog who got to enjoy a full life as a dog. 

This boot design was "Mark VI"
This boot design was “Mark IV”

We were lucky to have him for another seven health years, and it’s been almost two years since he left us. I sincerely think because of his injury, we were better prepared for our journey into parenthood, which eventually lead to this:

Notice that the baby aisle is also the pet aisle?
Notice that the baby aisle is also the pet aisle?

So there you have it, I hope you’re not angry with my sentinent about dogs and babies, but our dog certainly helped us become who we are as parents. If there is a doggy heaven and he somehow managed to learn to read, I want to say thank you pup, you taught us to become parents before we even knew it.

One final takeaway from this is that I now believe that every stage of life or situation prepares you for the next in some serendipitous way, I know the struggle of taking care of our disabled dog certainly helped us as new parents. At least that’s a better way to think about things when life gives you a ruff situation.

(Phew, I`m glad I was able to slip that one in.)

 

A photo posted by Ingus (@snappingus) on

Stay awesome pup-pup.


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