Three Lessons Our New Puppy Taught My Kids About Love

Three Lessons Our New Puppy Taught My Kids About LoveI was that mom. The mom who assured her children regularly, despite their begging and pleading, that we would never, ever have a dog.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with animals. Dogs are awesome. Both my husband and I grew up with them, and we had two puppies of our own when we were first married. But, as we continued to have kids {four of them}, and the level of chaos in our house increased {immeasurably}, we stood steadfast in our commitment to keeping the crazy to a minimum. Honestly, I was not at all confident in my ability to keep another breathing thing alive in my house. 

Until…about two months ago. 

Just before Christmas, my husband and I lost all sense of reason. It started out with an innocent discussion about what it would look like for our family to have a dog, then quickly moved into Googling puppies online. Once we went down that dangerous rabbit hole of cuteness and found ourselves looking at breeders, we were officially done. Within a few days of our initial doggie discussion, my husband had booked a plane ticket to fly out of state to pick up our new dog. 

And, this is when Ozzie, the cutest 8 week-old bordoodle puppy that you ever did see, entered the scene.

Of course, our children were thrilled. Prior to Ozzie’s arrival, we watched videos of him and his littermates talking about names incessantly, and hit Petsmart for all the puppy supplies. But, when he got here, the kids were shocked by the realization that he was indeed not a live stuffed animal. He was actually a very active, peeing, biting, and crying little thing that totally changed the dynamic in our home. He also required our non-stop vigilance and attention. When he landed at the emergency vet – at the end of week one – for swallowing a chicken bone, the tension in our house spilled over to a frenzy. I’ll never forget the collective emotional breakdown that occurred on Christmas Eve when one child actually asserted that Ozzie was “ruining our family.”

But, stick with me: he was actually doing quite the opposite.

Even in the midst of the emotional tornado that this puppy stirred up, I noticed that something interesting was happening. My kids were becoming totally invested in this little animal.

We all were. And as Ozzie wiggled his way into our hearts, he began teaching my children more about love  – the unconditional kind – than I ever could have imagined. 

Here are the three most special lessons that our puppy has taught my kids about love. 

Love is patient. Back to the peeing, biting, and crying part… puppies are a lot of work. And, interestingly, so are the young human recipients of this lesson. It has been eye-opening for my kids to watch how Ozzie’s process of learning and growing takes time – just like it does for them. Yes, it’s frustrating when he uses our living room carpet as a potty or cries for an entire car ride because he’s scared, but we are all rooting for this little guy. And, my kids recognize that time and patience are helping him through his growing pains. Can a mama dream that this lesson may actually transfer to siblings and friends who are experiencing learning moments of their own?

Love is selfless. As much as we love our kids, we all know that selflessness isn’t always in their wheelhouse. Having a puppy has given my kids a reason to think outside of themselves and do for another, without any expectations. Even when they don’t want to feed, walk, or even play with the dog, they are still able to understand that this puppy is dependent on us to care for him. What better way to realize that it actually feels good when you contribute to the well-being and happiness of someone you love? Our puppy has had more success pushing my kids out of their personal little bubbles than just about anything else.

Animals bring out the best kind of love in us. This is my favorite part. It has been so fun to watch my children fall in love with this dog… and Ozzie fall right back. The very first thing all four of my kids do when they come home is run to find their buddy. And, to be honest, Ozzie is lost when they aren’t home. This puppy has found his human “pack,” and my kids have gained a new member of their family. The most beautiful thing about animals is the way they love unconditionally, and the bond this creates for humans is something only pets can provide. What a gift for my kids.

I’m not here to convince anyone to run out and buy a dog tomorrow, but here’s what I am saying: as up and down as this transition has been for us, there’s not an ounce of me that regrets welcoming this sweet boy into our lives and introducing my kids to the life lessons that he’s taught them.

I can’t imagine it any other way.

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Tracie is a Florida girl who fell in love with Atlanta’s southern charm after graduating from college. She currently lives in the John’s Creek area with her husband and four children. If you don't see her in a carpool line or at a kid's sports field, she's most likely at home writing or in her virtual classroom where she teaches middle school students in language arts. Tracie writes about food, family, and faith on her personal blog, and you can read more at www.tracieandrewswriter.com. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Awwwww……I think this is one of my favorite articles from you (and I love so many of them). Puppy life is tough, but worth it. We are a year in and the kids still complain sometimes when they are asked to walk the dog, etc. Luckily, they too love our pooch and only take it out on mom, not the pup.

    I’m happy to see that the entire family agrees.

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