Every night after the kids are asleep, it’s just me, Lance and Akira. Akira is our dog who is 13 years old and she is a pit bull terrier. I have had her since she was 8 weeks old and I got her from a breeder in Delaware when I was 21. I have had to make a lot of sacrifices having this breed of dog over the years because of housing rules and regulations and breed specifications. I do not believe in getting rid of pets because of moving homes. In fact, it really upsets me that people are so quick to get rid of them just because of an apartment or a house. Yes, I know that sometimes ‘that’ apartment or house can be really amazing and they may not take animals but I feel like that decision should have been made when you committed to taking on the RESPONSIBILITY of caring for that animal.
I specifically researched and chose this breed because they were so controversial and I wanted to be an advocate for them. I was also living on my own and I wanted something intimidating looking to protect me. I had friends that had pit bulls and they were great dogs, so that swayed my decision too. It was tough training her in the beginning because I had never done it before, and she was so stubborn and hyper. I called around for help because I didn’t want to give up on her, and that’s when I entered us into puppy preschool. That helped both of us and she’s been the best dog and companion ever. Akira was ten years old before I had my first child. She was my child and my cat, Tigger was too. He passed away last year and I miss him dearly. He was 15 and had cancer.
As much as I love my animal babies, when you have a human child, the animals get less attention than usual. I never thought it was going to be a big deal having pets and having children at the same time, but it is a lot of work! Pets around here get fed, walked, held and cuddled and we sleep with them at night. Even after Max was born, all stayed the same. We took our precautions with Akira because everyone in the world said something about her being a pit bull and then being around a newborn baby. I didn’t want to take anything for granted so I did hire a dog trainer while I was pregnant to brush up on our commands so that we would all be in sync by the time the baby came. The trainer came to our apartment in the city and Akira and I had our half hour lessons once a week for a couple months. It was really nice because we were working together on old and new things and it was a fun, bonding activity for us. She was the only one there when my water broke and when the ambulance came to get me. (I was alone that night because Lance was out of town.)
We did all the precautions that you take with dogs and newborns. We had a baby scented towel and we let her sniff that up. We didn’t let her get close to Max for a while to create a respect for space and we did crate her for a couple nights just so we could focus on the baby and not worry about her. We made sure to give her nice, long walks and eventually, everyone was comfortable with each other, and we were one big, happy family.
As Max got older, he became more brave with his dealings with Akira. Pulling, tugging, hitting, not giving it a second thought. Except maybe to do it again and again and again. I would always stop him so that she never got annoyed with him, even though she never seemed to be. I never forgot the fact that she is a dog, an animal. An emotional being that gets antsy, annoyed or tired sometimes and you can’t expect a dog to never get frustrated with a child. I think you have to monitor kids and pets no matter what breed. I know that most dogs are fine with the children they live with but you just can’t take for granted that something may trigger them and then a bad thing happens. I think it’s the parent’s responsibility. That’s why I also don’t feed the kids with her around either. Too tempting and too dangerous. She wants the same thing they are having and a docile dog or not, she’s an animal. My kids will never eat around dogs. No thank you. To speak on pit bulls, I have known quite a few and I do believe a lot has to do with how they are treated and brought up. Cross breeding has been proved to be an issue and socialization plays a big part. My experience with Akira has been a positive one but I always supervise her with the kids and she is never alone with them. She is part of our family but ultimately it is my responsibility as a parent and pit bull owner to make sure everyone is safe.
The twinnies came along and a little less attention was had for the animal babies. Yes, it’s sad. We did our best but with twin newborns and a 20 month old, you aren’t playing catch out in the backyard! As time has progressed, Akira is back to receiving her deserved amount of attention. She’s going on family walks occasionally, but always playing with all of us in the backyard. She’s been quite the trooper with all of these changes in her older years. Her temperament has surprised me (for the better) and if I am ever unsure, I put her outside or in her crate. She has never acted hostile towards the children but sometimes the kids are getting on my nerves, so I know they must be getting on hers, and I’ll remove her from the situation.
I don’t know about all of these families who have numerous pets while having kids. How do they keep up with it all? It’s a lot of work! I always thought that I would have a family with lots of animals because that’s what I wanted growing up. I had lots of hamsters and a dog. Although I wanted a farm full of animals and thought I would give that to my kids when the time came. Now I’m thinking, no more pets until they are teenagers!! Max is already talking about having a bunny rabbit and a mouse and two guinea pigs thanks to this book he has.
I’m thankful to have Akira share this time with us and the kids. I’m glad that the children have a dog to play with while they are young to teach them how to treat animals. It’s nice to see the compassion grow between the kids and Akira. Max feeds her and loves giving her treats. I wish that she would live forever and ever.
Any thoughts on children and pets?