What You Can Learn About Parenting From Puppy Parenting First

 Michelle Stark, author, good friend and proud bulldog Momma, writes lovingly about  her learning experiences and how they relate to learning about your “partner” and your relationship. As you will read below, Tank was her first born. She is now the happy mother of three bulldogs including a 12 week  old puppy. I’m interested in learning what she has learned from #2 and #3?

Getting married and plan on having children?

Get a puppy!

Shortly after we became engaged, my husband bought me an English bulldog puppy.  I say he bought me this pup, but really, he had been wanting one for a while, so I was just the convenient excuse.  I had grown up with dogs, but my adult life was more suited to a cat’s independence.  However, one sloppy puppy kiss later, I was a convert.
What I didn’t realize was just how much this bundle of wrinkled love was going to teach us about each other and about our parenting skills.  A puppy, unlike a kitten, requires a LOT of attention.  Much like a newborn baby would.  A puppy is a PMPM – perpetual motion and potty machine.  They eat, sleep, play and potty. And they do it a lot!! 

What Our Darling PMPM Named Tank Taught Us

  •  That Rock/Paper/Scissors is a great game, unless you aren’t any good at it.  We used this game to determine who got out of bed on cold, wet Saturday mornings or in the middle of the night to take Tank outside to potty.  I lost. Almost every time. We also bargained a lot.  “If you get up now and take him out, I’ll empty the dishwasher for a week!” “No, if you get up, I will clean the house for a month!”
  • Which messes you will willingly clean up.  Matt gagged at the solid messes; I hated the mess of piddle puddles.   So, those duties were assigned accordingly. (I realize this wasn’t practical and it wasn’t a hard and fast rule, but if we were both home and our ‘preferred’ mess was made, there was no arguing as to who was going to clean it up.  I called that pre-marital harmony!)
  • Discipline? We don’t need no stinking discipline!  Matt will insist I’m a softy, but I seem to remember saying, “No sir!” and “Dammit, Tank! No!!” a lot more often than he did.  I was also the designated trainer when we went to puppy obedience class because Tank listened to me better. But, if Tank misbehaved too much and I got frustrated, Matt was quick to step in.  Because the rule in our house is ‘If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. And if you make Momma unhappy, you have to deal with Daddy.’
  • That I am a closet medic.  I grew up with parents in the medical field, so I came by it honestly.  I was the chief boo-boo kisser and cuddle giver.  I determined if it was vet time, or if we could handle a problem at home. I made the appointments.  I asked the vet the questions.  I meted out any necessary medicine. However, Matt made the better “ambulance driver.”
  • Some roles are traditional, and it’s not sexist, just a practical nod to each other’s best skill sets. I did the laundry and cleaned the house and let me tell you that one little 15 pound puppy can make a lot of messes and dirty laundry! Matt took on the manly things; Tank’s crate construction, fitting the baby gate to the kitchen entrance, and poop patrol in the backyard, lifting the now 55 pound dog in and out of the truck. And while I was the cuddler, Matt was best at playing with Tank. 


Mostly what we learned is that parenting is tough work and it is much, much easier with a dedicated partner.  The best part is that we worked this all out without fear of expensive therapy or an embarrassing tell-all book accusing us of terrible parenting.  Tank is a happy, well adjusted bulldog who’s biggest thrill is getting and giving love to family, friends and strangers.  That tells me we have been successful at parenting – at least with a puppy!

Photo Credits:

Thanks to Jessica Maier and Mini Pearl

Related Posts:

Is My Family Ready For A Dog?

What Your Method Of Dog Training May Say About You

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One Response to “What You Can Learn About Parenting From Puppy Parenting First”

  1. Amy@GoPetFriendly 04. Feb, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I think getting a dog teaches us so much. It makes us better people – and that is a good thing for all the experiences life brings us.

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