I’M THE MOM OF TODDLERS.
Well…they aren’t typical toddlers.
They’re wearing dog suits.
They’re a little older than your average toddler.
Mila is 8 that’s 56 in dog years so she’s navigating Life 2.0 like the rest of us.
Kenley is 5 that’s a youthful 35 in dog years.
But they feel like toddlers and definitely act like them
We inherited these beautiful creatures from our 20 something daughter who rescued and parented them for 2 years before her life/work situation changed and dog care was about to be compromised.
“Can you take them for the summer?” she asked.
“Yes!” It was well known we’d fallen in love with these ‘hounds’.
The summer turned into permanent.
I know a lot of empty nests fill up like this.
I have a friend who took in a ferret.
I must say M + K were incredibly well disciplined when they arrived. My daughter was the head of the household and the alpha. In this nest the dogs pretty much run the show and are actively training us. I think we’re coming along nicely.
A little background on greyhounds
Most greyhounds are rescues having spent their early years kept in a kennel making them hungry and ready to stretch their legs in the next race. No sweet puppy hood for these guys. It’s a tough, brutal life. Thankfully greyhound racing is slowing being banned throughout the world. Once sprung from captivity and in a forever home it takes a while for them to adjust to life on the outside. They’ve never seen cars, stairs, tv’s, vacuums or other dog breeds.
Greyhounds are 40 mph couch potatoes. Yes they run fast (the second fastest animal in the world next to a cheetah) but they are loungers and can sleep up to 18 hours a day. They are sweet, gentle and mellow creatures. A more loving animal would be hard to find.
We’ve had to make a few adjustments to our nest to accommodate the toddlers.
These are some of the changes we’ve made since returning to parenting.
My once charming living room is now a doggie playroom. Funny that’s what it was when we moved into this house 25 years ago and my daughter was one.
In my daughter’s home they had nice dog beds that they’d curl up on, nap on, sleep on. Here they each have their own beds….(well we share)…the master bed and the guest room bed…complete with fluffy duvets and lots of soft pillows.
My lovely white couches are now covered with white sheets and stay covered 24/7. I have some rather interesting ‘accessories’ too. So much for the well-appointed home I used to have.
My house is littered with dog toys and chewies. I bought several toy baskets and try to teach the dogs to put their stuff away when they are finished but…it’s not working.
Greyhounds have very little fur so they have to be insulated in bad weather. M + K have a nice wardrobe of sweaters, raincoats, winter and all weather coats to keep them toasty warm and dry. I bundle and un-bundle them 4X’s a day to go for walks. I help them put arms into sleeves and fasten closures. Then I get myself ready. I’m having an attack of Deja vu.
Of course there have been surprises
Two months into life with us Kenley broke his leg. It was an unfortunate series of events that led him to jump into the closed hatch of the SUV. It was a complicated break.
Bring in the specialists. The Doctors (orthopedic surgeon and radiologist) thought Kenley may have bone cancer based on the way the break presented. The leg was stabilized and we waited a week for the results of several biopsies. Luckily no cancer was found so it was full steam ahead with repairing his leg.
The surgeon had a challenging time dealing with the shattered bone and finally settled on securing the leg with a titanium plate and fusing the wrist. It was challenging 5 hour surgery with the last 90 minutes spent suturing what the surgeon referred to as ‘greyhound skin’ closely resembling wet tissue paper.
Kenley came home but every day we made the 35 minute trek each way to the hospital for a cast change to address the fluid that had built up while waiting for surgery and was now draining.
Kenley was very patient but not impressed with the daily trips that went on for a month.
Greyhounds are notoriously nervous animals so a lot of comforting, cajoling and cookies were required to get him thru. Not to mention me travelling prone in the back of the car beside him to keep him from moving. It was a little tricky to contain a 87 pound dog. He usually won when he wanted to re-position.
During the process of assessing the leg another issue was discovered.
Add one more specialist to the team – an Internist. Kenley was found to have an enlarged heart and an advanced valve issue. Since open heart surgery and valve repair is (not yet) done on dogs our boy was put on a full heart failure medication protocol to lessen the work load on his heart.
This toddler is a handful. Under our breath we’re muttering,“too bad we didn’t have pet insurance.”
Oh well. Like I said we love these dogs.
By this point our entire house has been reorganized into an infirmary to accommodate the patient. All the bedrooms are upstairs (which Kenley can’t navigate with his full leg cast) so my husband volunteers to sleep downstairs on the soft, carpeted, quilt covered floor next to him.
Mila and I are upstairs. She is on the bed having taken over my husband’s spot.
You can see where all this is going.
Yep…..the power base has shifted.
The dogs are in charge.
Kenley’s recovery is slow and requires physio therapy – yes they have that for dogs. In his case it’s performed by a physiotherapist who used to treat humans and is now a canine specialist.
My husband and I are a devoted care team and we’re up for anything. We happily drive 45 minutes each way to take Kenley to physio once a week. My husband requests an appointment for his back problem.
While Kenley is recovering we don’t want Mila to be forgotten so I arrange play dates for her. Just like I did for daughter. Nice dog nice parents – deal.
We’ve become good friends with a devoted greyhound family (they’ve had greyhounds for 25 years and have 2 ‘toddlers’ at home too). They are a godsend and support us in every way. We have a standing Friday date to walk dogs and have coffee – social time for all of us parents and kids. Funny I used to do the same thing on Fridays with my mom’s group…25 years ago….playground…coffee.
Right about now we realize…the dogs are totally in charge.
This is no joke.
They lie on couches they lie on beds. Those dog beds are still around but haven’t seen any action in a long time. They get cookies for everything. Mila seems to think she owns the couches and when visitors come over and they’ve chosen a spot she’s interested in she’ll stare them down until they move. Thank God all our friends are dog lovers. They laugh and move to accommodate Mila even though we say, “pleeeease stay where you are!”
Mila is a very social dog and loves to have guests. She grabs her squeaky toys and starts celebrating their arrival the minute they get in the door with a chorus of very loud, happy squeaking. It’s her personal statement.
Did I mention Kenley is a little nervous? That means that when visitors are over he regularly passes gas as a way of releasing tension. So we and our guests move from room to room… call it a migratory entertaining style.
These dogs love to go in the car so we created a daily go-for-a-ride schedule. At 3 pm every day we climb in the car and go somewhere. They love to walk at the beach and in forests so we alternate their favourite spots so they don’t get bored. That just makes good sense—right??
Kenley’s heart condition deteriorated over Christmas so now we’re on a stepped up protocol. The medication makes him lose his appetite so I offer morning and afternoon snacks to bump up his caloric intake. I can do a lot with peanut butter, kibble and liver treats! Mila of course gets to partake in everything and as far as she’s concerned she’s hit the treat/food jackpot. Little does she know I’m balancing her calories and daily intake so her svelte figure and slim waistline don’t start to expand.
I’m building my babysitter list so we can go out and not have to keep looking at the time to make sure we haven’t exceeded our 4 hour window. Kenley as a result of medication has to get outside often.
Kenley loves the beach so we keep the tide tables close by so we can plan our beach adventures with military precision. On the sand bars he can walk off leash and his spirit totally comes to life. He’s like a puppy chasing the waves, birds, dogs and what appears to be his imaginary friends. Mila, who doesn’t come off the leash because she’s super fast and we might not be able to catch her, finds all this very amusing and curious.
As you can see life is full. It’s totally organized around the toddlers – their snacks, food, outings, ensuring life is full of rich, wonderful experiences. Like all parents today we just want our kids to be happy. They both smile. Kenley laughs at the beach. Mila performs her funny, silly antics daily.
So far I haven’t gotten into crafts or the papier mache projects our nest used to be known for.
Maybe Mila and Kenley would like that.
I’ll have to ask them.
Do you have a dog or dogs you love? Are they like toddlers? Did you inherit your kids pets? What are your stories? Please share in the comments below.