My husband Kyle and I both grew up in families with dogs. When we were married it seemed only natural that we add a dog to our lives. Our first dog Cody was old when we received him from a family that could no-longer take care of him. Sadly, Cody was only with us a couple of years when he died from cancer. Danica was only one month old when he passed and it took Kyle and I awhile to bring ourselves to bring another pet into our lives.
Two years after Cody died we had another baby, Kurtis and we were approached to take in a 2 year old Sheltie named Mickey. Kyle and I were both skeptical with a new baby in the house and a dog that had previously been in a house with no children. We decided to accept him on a trial basis (Kyle’s Mom would have taken him if we could not). We have loved Mickey ever since and have never regretted adding him to our family.
Mickey immediately took on the role of guarding the baby. He has never been overly protective of the kids, but from day one slept right beside the crib whenever the door was open. He slept on the floor by the crib when Kurtis was in it, and sleeps by the crib now that Keegan is in it. At night, when the babies door is closed, Mickey sleeps beside my bed (or sometime on it at our feet).
He has become our guardian too, letting us know when there was a bear in the driveway once, and letting us know in the summer when the racoons are on the deck.
Having a dog in the house has helped us to teach our children responsibility, gentleness, love and compassion. Danica and Kurtis are now in charge of feeding Mickey twice a day and they have also begun letting him outside when he needs to ‘go’.
Keegan has learned to be so gentle with Mickey which I believe has taught him to respect all animals. He is just learning to talk and one thing he now says when he sees animals is “nice” and he sweeps his hand as if petting the animal. This comes from us teaching him that Mickey is nice and we have to be gentle and pet him nicely. Thankfully Mickey is incredibly tolerant as this is a learning process for babies.
We recognize that Mickey makes our family complete and we want to keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible because we know that someday he will no-longer be with us. When we first received him I was not very strict about his diet. Our previous pets had an open bowl policy and ate when they were hungry. Mickey had a bad habit of eating everything as soon as we fed him and began to get a little overweight. I knew that we needed to keep his weight in check to avoid problems such as arthritis as he aged. We began control his diet with no table food (except what Keegan drops regularly) and healthy feedings such as IAMS dog food. We also try to always include him in an active lifestyle.
Mickey loves to fetch (though he is not always good at returning the item thrown), but mostly he just loves to run in the yard with the kids. He will chase them and let them chase him. I think it is part of his natural herding tendencies to always look after them when they are in the yard. He loves to take walks with us to the playground and one of his favorite activities is going to Grandma’s house where he gets to play with the other dogs (one of which is his brother).
Mickey is 6 years old now (the same as Danica) and we hope he is with us for many more years to come to continue making memories and enhancing our family. I am determined to keep him as happy and healthy as possible as he is part of the family and makes us happy every day.
What are your go-to ways to keep your pet(s) happy and healthy?
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