Our 8 year old shi-poo “Leaf” is not our pet, he is a member of the family. He doesn’t sleep on the floor, he lays on the couch, with a blanket. If his blanket has been set up on the back of the couch, he jumps up and paws at it until it falls and he can arrange it into his perfect nest to sleep in. He may be part bird! He loves all people, rarely barks, and finds small children and puppies mildly annoying. Unfortunately for him, our four year old son, Griffin, believes the sun rises and shines on Leaf, and needs to be at his side at all times.
Griffin isn’t the only member of this family who loves Leaf. My two middle children compete over who gets to feed him and walk him, and they try to beat Griffin to the spot next to him on the couch. My oldest son has been Leaf’s sidekick since the day he came to our home 8 years ago. He left for college this fall, and poor Leaf misses him a lot. Every time he visits for a weekend and then leaves again, Leaf sits at the front window watching for him…missing him, just like the rest of us miss him. Leaf gets excited when the kids get home from school each day. He runs around looking for a toy to share with them and then runs to the door to show them what he has. He comes to me when he needs to go outside, and will rest on my husband’s lap when he’s looking for some affection. Leaf is very much a part of our family, and we will be celebrating Family Day at home, with him and the rest of the family. He will be very happy because my oldest son, Eric, will be home for the week, and he may even get a visit from his most favourite person, my mother-in-law (she spoils him).
We are not alone when it comes to having a pet who is a significant member of the family. According to the Dog Chow® Family Poll, three-quarters of Canadian dog owners take their canine companions into account when making decisions about vacations, homes and car purchases. Even more, over half spend more time with their loved ones because they have a dog and the majority (85%) speak to their dogs like a full-fledged family member. It may come as no surprise that as a nation many of us (71%) describe the family dog as a playmate, with this number increasing slightly for those with kids (76%).
Are you thinking about adding a pet to your family? If so, here are some tips from Jill Priest, a Certified Pet Dog Trainer:
- Whether it’s the daily routine or special events, it’s clear that dogs play a variety of important roles that impact our lives
- Leaders Not Littermates: Children should take on smaller tasks such as feeding, positive treat training and walking the dog to ensure the family dog understands his position in the pack
- Consistency is Key: And when it comes to timing for feeding, exercise and discipline, getting on the same page as an entire family is a great way to bring everyone together and assign responsibilities.
To meet Jill in person and gain additional insights on how to enhance the role of the family dog for everyone, head to PawsWay at 225 Queens Quay West in Toronto on Monday, February 20th for the Dog Chow Family Day celebration. Check out PawsWay.com/Events for more information and details.
If you are happily owned by a dog, visit UrbanMoms to enter to win a $125 Dog Chow Family Day Prize Pack!