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25 Ways Getting a Dog Is Just Like Having Another Child

adopting a dog, dog rescue new york city, hurricane sandy rescue animals, animal shelters new york city, sean casey animal rescue, good dogs for kids

This is our buddy, Buddy!

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy here in New York, I wanted to help with the recovery effort any way I could. I bought infant and kids’ clothes and diapers to donate. I gave some money to the New York Aquarium, which was severely damaged in the storm. I couldn’t help with much of the physical volunteer effort because I’m a single mother and children weren’t allowed to come to shelters, nor did I think it was safe for my 7-year-old to be involved in the clean-up of contaminated and/or damaged areas, but I wanted to do something more. Suddenly it hit me: it was time to rescue a dog.

I’ve always loved dogs and had been thinking about getting one for a while. I knew there would be dogs who needed a home after the storm, and I’d heard great things about Sean Casey Animal Rescue here in Brooklyn. I brought my daughter there one day after school, warning her that this might be a long process and that we wouldn’t necessarily find our dog that day. But as soon as I opened the door, I knew our dog was there, and we’d be taking him home that night.

Biejito’s cage was the first one I saw before I’d even come all the way inside the noisy rescue center. The dogs get so excited every time someone comes in they all start barking in unison, and the sound of their throaty cries bounces off the walls and echoes a bit. It could have been overwhelming, but I felt very calm. I locked eyes with Biejito and thought, “That’s him.” A split second later my daughter said, “I think that’s our dog.”

We asked to take Biejito for a walk, and he was thrilled to be outside. I’d never been to that particular section of Windsor Terrace before, so I figured it was best to walk one square block to avoid getting lost. When we rounded the third corner, we came across a woman walking her dog in front of a cafe. I explained to her that we were test driving Biejito and asked if she would mind if I let him interact with her dog so I could gauge whether or not he was friendly. She obliged, and then revealed that she was a vet in the area. I took that as a sign – the second of several – and asked her, “If we bring this dog home tonight, how long do you think it will take him to adjust?” “A few minutes,” she replied. I laughed. “Okay, good to know!,” I said. 

We took Biejito back to the center and I told the girl there that I’d take him. She quickly corrected me, “You mean you’d like to apply?” I said yes and she got the necessary paperwork. I texted two friends to let them know I listed them as references and they both texted back, “Are you sure you want to get a dog? It’s a lot of work!” I reassured them that yes, I wanted a dog, even though I knew having one would make for some change. I’d always planned to have a second child, and with each passing year the likelihood of that happening diminishes, so I figured a dog-child would count!

“Well, you got great references, but one wasn’t home. That’s okay though since you said Jenn sent you here,” the girl processing my application told me. Jenn is the mother of one of my daughter’s classmates, and her brother-in-law runs the shelter. “Let me help you get everything you need.”

The staff collected a crate and a cushion and dog food and dog treats and dog toys for us and we rang those up. When it was time to write the check for the adoption fee, I couldn’t help but laugh. I never picked out checks, I just use the sample checks my bank gave me, and each one has a different motif. The next blank one in my book had a picture of a puppy on it. All signs pointed to yes, this was meant to be. This dog, this day, this family. Biejito had been waiting for us. And we waited for him, too. Over the summer, we almost adopted a dog during one of those outdoor drives they set up on the sidewalk to raise awareness for animal rescue, but it just didn’t feel quite right. This, on the other hand, was perfect.

We clambered into a livery cab with all the stuff and headed home. When Biejito got out of the car, he ran right up our steps like he’d always known he was going to live in our house. We took some pictures of him and talked about changing his name. By the next day, we’d decided to call him Buddy. Biejito is a Spanish word (accurately spelled viejito) meaning little old man or friend, so Buddy seemed like an excellent English translation. (And also a better choice than Burrito, which was the runner-up.)

I can’t say those first days weren’t a bit crazy, and I realized quickly that getting a dog really is like having another child. (Did you know you have to dog-proof your home just like you would for a baby, except like way more intensely? They eat everything!) As I noted that first week on Facebook, “Getting a dog is like having a baby that comes out of your vagina able to run.”

Here are 25 more ways I’ve observed that getting a dog is just like having another child, illustrated using pictures of my kids, canine and human:

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  • You feel terrified the first time you take them out for a long walk. 1 of 25
    You feel terrified the first time you take them out for a long walk.
    Waking Buddy 20 blocks to go get his post-shelter bath felt as terrifying as driving home from the hospital with my daughter when she was born. I couldn't stop thinking about how tiny and precious he was and watching his silly little princely gait as he bounced down the street. At every corner I felt protective of him, ready to save the day if he walked out into traffic.
  • They’re afraid of the doctor. 2 of 25
    They're afraid of the doctor.
    When I took Buddy for his first vet appointment, he got nervous. And when he had to have blood drawn, oh boy was it a spectacle. I had to use a soothing voice and keep him distracted the whole time. Reminded me of the early pediatrician appointments with my daughter when she had to get shots. Both kids and dogs deserve treats afterwards!
  • You have to find clever ways to give them medicine. 3 of 25
    You have to find clever ways to give them medicine.
    When Buddy came to us from the shelter he had some kind of rash on his tummy. He had to take a pill every day for several days to treat it. I tried just hiding the pill in his wet food but he was clever enough to eat around it, so I started giving it to him wrapped up in a piece of turkey or cheese, cuz, you know, I'm a genius.
  • Everyone on the street wants to say hello and touch them. 4 of 25
    Everyone on the street wants to say hello and touch them.
    Who can resist the cuteness?!
  • They always sniff out their own. 5 of 25
    They always sniff out their own.
    Just like toddlers eye each other on the playground then hone in, walk up and give each other the ET finger, dogs always notice other dogs. I feel totally ready to be the mother of a human boy child should that ever happen, because I've had to teach Buddy to say hello at the face first before diving into someone else's privates. Ahem.
  • Their eating patterns are erratic. 6 of 25
    Their eating patterns are erratic.
    Sometimes little kids have no appetite and graze on one plate all day, other times they house their helping in one bite and then down three more. Same thing with the dog.
  • You buy them their own bed, but they just want to sleep with you. 7 of 25
    You buy them their own bed, but they just want to sleep with you.
    Buddy falls asleep with my daughter, then about an hour or so later most nights he comes out to go to sleep with me. It's so sweet.
  • They love to ride in the car. 8 of 25
    They love to ride in the car.
    Buddy gets so excited when he gets to take a ride anywhere. In fact, he'll gladly jump in a stranger's car if they leave the door open. (Hopefully your toddler doesn't do that!)
  • It’s really fun to buy them clothes. 9 of 25
    It's really fun to buy them clothes.
    Like way way too fun. But you never know when your dog is going to need to go to a disco party on the moon.
  • They hate getting their hair cut. 10 of 25
    They hate getting their hair cut.
    But they look so cute once their bangs are out of their eyes!
  • They love to color. 11 of 25
    They love to color.
    Or, well, eat crayons and colored pencils. The first week Buddy was with us he ate so many crayons he pooped a rainbow.
  • They look adorable when they get caught getting into stuff they shouldn’t have. 12 of 25
    They look adorable when they get caught getting into stuff they shouldn't have.
    I can haz orangez?
  • They respond best to simple commands. 13 of 25
    They respond best to simple commands.
    When all else fails, you can always bribe them with a treat.
  • They love being out in nature. 14 of 25
    They love being out in nature.
    And will find all kinds of strange, dirty stuff on the ground to show you.
  • You look for any excuse to photograph them. 15 of 25
    You look for any excuse to photograph them.
    Look at this gangsta!
  • They’re hilarious. 16 of 25
    They're hilarious.
    Both my 7-year-old and our little Buddy Bear are a constant source of laughter.
  • You let them get away with things you know they shouldn’t do. 17 of 25
    You let them get away with things you know they shouldn't do.
    Like stay up late to watch TV or, you know, sit on the couch. (We broke that rule on the first day. I let my kid sit on the couch from day one, too.)
  • They’re really fun to dress up. 18 of 25
    They're really fun to dress up.
    Kids and dogs never look cuter than when they're in costume!
  • They’re possessive of their toys. 19 of 25
    They're possessive of their toys.
    And love to chew them, too!
  • You can’t leave them unattended. 20 of 25
    You can't leave them unattended.
    Unless you want to clean up a floor full of garbage.
  • They love to nap on the floor. 21 of 25
    They love to nap on the floor.
    Any time and any place, when you gotta snooze, you gotta snooze!
  • They experience sibling rivalry. 22 of 25
    They experience sibling rivalry.
    When the class guinea pig came to stay with us this weekend, Buddy definitely tweaked. They had to stay in separate rooms at all times so as to avoid fighting. And by fighting I mean the dog eating the guinea pig.
  • You obsess over every little boo-boo. 23 of 25
    You obsess over every little boo-boo.
    The other night my daughter called, "Buddy's eye is bleeding!" I looked down and there was Buddy, his eye completely red. I freaked out immediately and ran to get a wet paper towel to clear the blood away so I could see how bad the cut was. Turns out it was just a tiny scratch, but I was totally ready to spend the night at the doggie hospital, just like I would for a child.
  • They don’t want you to go. 24 of 25
    They don't want you to go.
    Buddy in my suitcase before our trip home for the holidays.
  • They change your heart forever. 25 of 25
    They change your heart forever.
    Now that there's a doggie in our lives, we're not as free to travel or run around the city without planning for the dog, but I wouldn't trade our new family for the world. Buddy is such a sweet companion to me and a fun, crazy playmate for my daughter. He's given her an opportunity to become a responsible, loving caregiver, too, a role she really enjoys. We love our Buddy!

For those of you looking to adopt a pet: Buddy is a Yorkie Mix. He’s a great dog for kids and grown-ups! He’s very friendly and likes to play, plus he’s the perfect size. Buddy was adopted from Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, NY. They have tons of animals there! Cats, dogs, lizards, birds, even African tortoises that are older than your grandma! The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and eager to send you home with a pet. If you live outside of New York City and would like to rescue an animal, visit Petfinder to locate a shelter near you.

Similar, yet different:

Raising Boys and Puppies is Surprisingly Similar!

10 Ways Puppies and Toddlers Are One in the Same

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More from Carolyn on Babble:

Why My 7-Year-Old Is an Atheist (And Why I’m Okay With That)

Please, No More Articles About Single Mothers (Except This One)

Learn more about Carolyn at her blog.

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