Only one person wished me Happy Mother’s Day this morning: the dog. (Granted, no one else was up yet, but isn’t that how it is?) Actually, she greets me EVERY day as if I am the most wonderful creature on the planet. My kids used to be like that. They’re teenagers now. So on this happy occasion let me share a few things this little mutt has taught me that I wish I had known BEFORE I gave birth.
1. “No” is very effective about the zillionth time you say it. If you cave before that they just don’t get the point.
2. If you don’t want them to do something, like chew the buttons off your blouse, whatever you do, DO NOT TRY TO GET THE BLOUSE! Give them a nice, dirty sock instead. Otherwise you’ll end up with a ripped blouse.
3. If they want to play, play with them. Otherwise they will hound you until you simply cannot do whatever it is that might be more important than playing with them at that exact moment.
4. When they get too wound up, pick them up and hold them. They’ll calm down eventually.
5. If they bark at strangers you aren’t sure of—let ‘em bark. Otherwise, get yourself a nice, pair of earplugs cause they’re gonna bark.
6. If you have to give them a nasty-tasting pill, don’t tell them, “It’s yummy” and insist they eat it. Play ‘Keep Away,” and don’t let them have it. When they finally get it they’ll pretend to like it even if they don’t.
7. Don’t pick up after them. That chewed up, muddy shoe is on their bed for a reason.
8. They’ll eat when they’re hungry. Just put the food out.
9. If they suddenly bark at you or nip you on the leg for absolutely NO reason at all, don’t try to figure out why. They don’t know either.
10. Leash them up at night or you never know WHERE they’ll end up in the morning.
When my grandmother was raising me, she had already owned a dog. This stuff was second nature to her. I had to learn the hard way. So, to all you new mothers out there this morning: before your little ones grow up, GET A DOG!!!
(Helen Hudson is the author of “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of caring for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. http://helen-hudson.com. )