Even though I believe that Josh and I are soul mates (at least as much as I believe in soul mates…but that’s a whole other story), that is not what I’m referring to. Awhile ago I was over at a friend’s house and another friend dropped by with her very infant daughter. We got started on the topic of pets and babies. One is against all pets that live in houses (and probably would be happiest if there were no animals on the planet besides humans) and the other felt very strongly that dogs can be dangerous around infants.
I had dogs before I had my dog Sparkle, but I don’t really remember any of them. I got Sparkle for my 6th birthday. From the time I was 6 until I left home for college I didn’t use a pillow, I used Sparkle. I couldn’t sleep without her in bed with me. Sparkle was my dog, except for the fact that mom mostly took care of her. I walked her once a day, but my mom let me believe that she was my dog and Sparkle was kind enough to let me believe it too. Sparkle was such a huge part of my childhood, I really don’t have a memory that doesn’t include her. She was so kind and patient; she would let me dress her up in my clothes and dance around with her. Sparkle was my protector and comforter when I needed it. There is really no relationship like the one between a dog and a child.
I was back from college and living with Josh when Sparkle got very sick and it was obvious that she wasn’t going to live for that much longer due to old age. She spent the last 2 weeks of her life living with us and it was my great honor to care for her during this time, since she had spent 14 years caring for me. My mom and I were in constant communication about if and when we should put her down. We didn’t want her to suffer, but we also didn’t want to put her to sleep prematurely. I can’t imagine having this internal struggle about a human person who is on life support because I know how excruciating it was to decide for our dog.
It finally got to the point where it was obvious that Sparkle was in a lot of pain and the only humane thing to do was put her down. My mom was driving and I was holding onto to her, trying to give her any measure of comfort that I could for those last moments. It was during that drive that she ceased breathing and I believe that she died in my arms, although we still continued and put her down, just in case she was struggling to go on. We did not want her last moments to be in pain.
I couldn’t imagine my childhood without Sparkle. She was so intertwined with my life and an important part of my family. When Josh and I brought Tanner home we knew it wouldn’t be too long before we had kids and I hoped that our child would have the same relationship with Tanner as I had with Sparkle.
When I brought Finn home from the hospital Tanner was jumping up on me while I was holding Finn, trying to figure out who this new being was. It terrified me. I pressed Finn against the wall, putting my body between Finn and the jumping dog, and told Josh to get Tanner away from him. At that moment I knew babies and dogs don’t mix and Tanner was a very 2nd on the list of importance. I told Josh that if Tanner didn’t get better around Finn that we were going to get rid of him. I realized later that it was my own stupidity that made Tanner act the way he did. I was hiding Finn from Tanner and often banished him to his kennel. Tanner really just wanted to figure out who this new person was that he was now in charge of protecting. There was also a period of adjustment where Tanner realized that he was not number one on our priority (translation…didn’t get all the attention) but mostly it was just curiosity.
As soon as Tanner was properly introduced to Finn, Finn became his number one priority. If Finn was crying in his crib, Tanner was laying outside the door crying as well. When in the same room, Tanner has to be close to Finn, preferably touching him. This made me quite nervous at first, a dog that weighed at least 115 pounds laying next to my infant son was a disaster waiting to happen, as far as I would concerned. One misstep could easily injure (or worse) Finn. It was only after a long time that I trusted Tanner around Finn and understood that he was so careful around Finn, he would never hurt him. Tanner loved Finn unconditionally from the first day and if he had to choose between the three of us, Finn would always come first (Josh second, and me a distant third). It was awhile before it was obvious that Finn returned Tanner’s love.
Although Finn is very fond of both Hazel and Abby, he has a completely different relationship with Tanner. He has continued to be scared on and off when going to bed. One thing that always soothes him and allows him to fall into a peaceful slumber is if Tanner is in his room with him. He knows that Tanner will protect him from anything, even if he can’t comprehend completely what he’s afraid of.
Now each family has to make a decision about what is best for them, but I don’t agree that babies and dogs don’t mix. I know that Finn will have the same memories of Tanner as I have of Sparkle. His childhood will be inseparable from his memories of his puppy. As for Tanner and Finn, they are soul mates.