When we decided back in September that we would make a puppy - Toby - a part of our family, we already knew that we would also soon been welcoming another little one in the form of our first human child. Many people told us bluntly: "You guys are crazy."
Now, don't get me wrong. There have been times, many times, when we have agreed with those many people. We are crazy and we feel crazy at times. Case in point - he peed all over our bed last night, spurring a mandatory sheet/comforter change at 11pm. But, otherwise, the dog-right-before-baby approach fits perfectly with our go-big-or-go-home approach and, let's recall, we've done something like this before... in 2008, I took my last law school finals, we each graduated from professional school, we bought a house and moved in, got married, and went on a honeymoon. All in one month. No sweat.
When we aren't feeling crazy, we know that having Toby helped prepare us for Audrey. Having him in our lives for the few months before Audrey arrived allowed and/or forced us to focus on something other than ourselves, to compromise our own schedules and needs for his, and to begin to develop the patience that we surely will need as parents. Just as we now cannot imagine our lives without Audrey, we also can't imagine our lives without Toby. He was the perfect addition to our family and even on his worst days, I wouldn't give him back. Having a puppy and having a baby are actually pretty similar in many ways... Let's compare: A puppy is a lot of work. A baby is a lot of work. Your life can revolve around feeding the dog, walking the dog, correcting the dog, letting the dog out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night when it has diarrhea. Your life must revolve around feeding the baby, changing the baby, rocking the baby to sleep, soothing the baby when it cries, letting the baby out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night when it has diarrhea. Just kidding on the last one. But, minus the diapers, cute onesies, and pacifiers - barking, crates, and leashes, there are a lot of similarities and lessons to be learned from having a puppy. This approach is not for everyone, but it's worked for us, which makes it easier for me to defend myself when called crazy.
It also helps that Toby is good with Audrey. He has a sixth sense about her and is so curious and (usually) gentle with her. He enjoys walking with me and the stroller and curls up on my lap while I'm nursing her. He also licks her toes and face (and other exposed parts of her body and mine) and seems to be mellowing out just a bit. I think they will be friends and I love that she will have something I never did - her own dog to grow up loving and learning from. Our family is hopefully not complete just yet, but a dog definitely helps our house to feel like a home.