10 February 2006

Taking care of little kids and dogs at the same time

As much as I love animals, I shy away from owning a pet because my caretaking ability is maxed out at the moment (plus we have allergy issues in our family). So, when I see someone gracefully balancing caring for young kids and pets, I'm full of admiration.

My neighbor Sharaine has a busy schedule, two kids (6 and 3) and a very active chocolate Labrador (and two pet rats, but that's the subject of a future post). Every afternoon, in all but the most inclement weather, I see them walking together. The six year-old runs ahead, the three year-old sometimes walks, sometimes snacks or naps in the jogging stroller, and the dog frolics happily among them all. I've watched her do this as long as I've lived here -- since her first child was a toddler.

As a result, everyone in her family gets daily exercise, they know everyone in the surrounding neighborhood, and her kids learn responsibility. Sharaine's tools, depending on the weather: good quality rain gear (jackets, pants, boots), winter wear (jackets, mittens, hats, warm socks), summer wear (sunhats, sunglasses), and a jogging stroller with a rain flap.

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My husband and I are so happy our son has grown up with our first furry son, a lovable Lab Retriever. I would add to the "tools" list for us: water bottles (for us and the dog) and tons of little bags (for the poop that is inevitable - the dog's or the baby's dirty diaper!).

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