Our newest family member, named Dingo, often inspires two amusing remarks.  The first occurs when somebody learns her name and proceeds to clearly enunciate, in their best Australian accent, “The dengow’s got my bye-bay!”  (Incidentally, Dingo does carry just about everything except small children in her mouth.)

The second typical comment complements the aforementioned infant theme but lacks the morbid connotation.  Delivered by tentative, wide-eyed visitors as they witness the intensely increased level of activity in our home, we regularly hear, “It seems a little like having a baby, doesn’t it”

Indeed, there are many ways that caring for our 11-week-old puppy is very much like caring for a baby.

Anyone who has lived with both knows that the goals and the processes of puppy proofing are similar to those of child proofing.  I suspect that they also know that no matter how diligent the collection and storage of the items that the puppy/child can’t have, both will inevitably find the one thing that gets accidentally missed.

As a toddler, my daughter exhibited a behaviour which is a trait we are now observing in our pup.  Both were/are loyal and committed “carriers.”  Like my daughter before her, Dingo picks up and carries an appealing, random item, tightening her grip and changing her path when a parent (I mean, owner) approaches her, concerned that the morsel in her mouth poses a safety threat.

Eventually the item goes missing, and is subsequently found under a couch, nestled between the cushions on a chair, or strewn about the dog’s kennel.

Also take (Dingo would, if she could), for example the on-going financial costs.   Although it’s true that we didn’t exactly pay for our children before putting them in the car and driving them home, dog ownership is like a wide open door through which to bolt with reckless abandon and chew up our resources.  Pet stores have aisles of countless toys, trinkets, treats, and even clothing to keep our former cave dwelling pets warm and dry.  Like our pup, our weekly budget has grown by leaps and bounds, and now includes many “must-have” items to properly care for her medical, dental, emotional, mental and exercise requirements.

But, much like the kid at Christmas, it’s often the packaging (along with the shoes that carried the purchaser to the store) that holds more appeal for the dog than the awesome contents with the synthetic beef or chicken scent and flavour boiled, baked or otherwise infused into the item that we were certain she would love and be busily entertained by for hours.

When Dingo first arrived, we experienced a sobering two weeks during which she was up several times each night.  Although we did consider this exhausting aspect before taking the puppy plunge, it was truly a rude awakening.  We were startled back into our early days of parenthood when our conversations consisted only of the exchange of mono-syllabic grunt-greetings as we occasionally passed each other in the hallway in the early hours, trading sleep for crying baby.

Of course, there are also ways that caring for a puppy and a child are not at all similar.

As the parents of 12 and nine-year-olds, we enjoy a bit more freedom than we’ve had in a long time (12 years, to be exact), so this particular difference is especially welcome when I find myself wondering… really, what on earth were we thinking getting a puppy?

Dingo, at the tender age of three months, can stay home alone in her kennel for short periods, and we don’t have to worry about her safety and well-being… or our impending arrest.