Having a partner to help you when you’re raising children can mean the difference between self-confidence and a breakdown. Someone who will gently remind you to get out and go for a walk when you need some fresh air. Someone who will snuggle up to you when you are doubting yourself. Someone who won’t judge you over every parenting decision you make (like that parenting group on social media). Someone who is just “such a good boy ― yes he is!”
It’s a common misconception that when you have kids, you have to give up the adventures in your life in order to serve that new bundle of love that needs you so much. You will either slave away at work to provide more resources so they have the best education you can afford for them, or you’ll spend all your time at home where you know you can educate them with the love and personal attention only you can provide. Both are valid paths, but if you post your methods on social media, you’ll be chastised for either option, because no parental choice goes unpunished on the internet.
The nice thing about parenting is that much of the job, when you can be at home with the kids, involves playing. That is something that helps make the extremely long hours tolerable. A person may not be able to haul bags of concrete for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, for years on end with hardly a break, but it turns out you can watch Frozen that long and still retain a small percentage of your sanity, leaving just enough lucidity to cook up a box of mac and cheese for lunch.
That’s the rub. You get to play, but only kid games. You miss adult interaction. You miss adult stimulation. You wish you could watch that show you definitely can’t turn on while the kids are awake.
But somewhere out there is an old dog, probably at an animal shelter; a wise, scruffy old dog that would love to snuggle up to you and tell you it’s okay when you feel like you’re on the verge of breaking down; one that won’t repeat anything it sees or hears to the church gossip.
An old dog still wants and needs to go for walks, but it has mellowed since puppyhood, and now just wants to amble at toddler speed while you carry your six-month-old in a chest wrap. As workouts go, it may not be CrossFit, but it’s less cliquey, so most dog people you meet on the trail are happy to have a little grown up conversation with you while your kid looks for rocks to put in her pockets.
If you’re too shy to strike up a conversation, don’t worry; your dog knows that the best ice breaker is a good tail sniff, and they will handle that for you. An old dog often has less to prove to other dogs and can be more approachable than some younger pups. According to Salt Lake County Animal Services, “most senior dogs are housebroken, know basic commands, and are a bit calmer than they were as puppies.”
With the thousands of dog-friendly hiking trails in the state, each day can be a new adventure for you and your children, and it’s a chance for them to learn and experience the world outside of YouTube Kids.
This doesn’t mean you should run right out and grab the first old dog you see. You don’t want just any old dog. You need the right dog. Each family has different needs, and the wrong choice can be bad for both the family and the dog.
Utah has a strong rescue community. County Animal Control would love to adopt to you, and so would the Humane Society of Utah. Best Friends is based in Utah, and if you ever have a chance to tour their huge facility in Kanab, you should definitely take the time to do so. The folks at any of these places would love to direct you to the correct choice of animal for the best experience
Old dogs have a harder time finding their forever home because everyone wants a puppy, but kids and old dogs just belong together. They both love toys that make noises. They both love an adventure. They both go to the bathroom when and where they’re not supposed to. And they both love to give you wet, sloppy kisses. Young kids are great at making messes at dinner, and old dogs are great at licking those messes up. It’s a natural combination.
Best of all, young kids and old dogs will always love you unconditionally.
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