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New puppyhood and parenthood—the same or different?

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For those who follow my posts on Oy!Chicago, or if you’re forced to see my Facebook newsfeed photo-fest (sorry friends), you know that we recently made a life-altering purchase. No, we’re not new homeowners. We got a dog.

Not just any dog—a black labradoodle puppy. The world’s greatest and most adorable puppy (if I do say so myself). Miss Kenzie Puppy-face Underfoot Little Monster Friedman.

New puppyhood and parenthood photo 

(Insert strange look here—yes, I am 100% certifiably nuts.)

Six weeks of puppy motherhood has taught me a lot already. In talking with friends who have a different kind of new baby—you know, the human kind—I’ve realized that raising a new puppy is not all that different from the changes that come with having a baby:

1) Sleepless nights. In Kenzie’s first couple weeks home, she did not sleep through the night. While it seemed like she was sleeping and napping constantly, up to 18-20 hours a day (just like a new baby), it never seemed that she could make it through the night. We would go out at 11 p.m. before bed and by 3 a.m. she’d need to get up and go out again. It’s crazy but I felt like I had mommy-style super hearing, and would notice immediately when she was whimpering and needed us.

2) Frequent visits to the doctor. Within only a few days of having a new baby, parents are already rushing to the pediatrician for well-baby visits and regular trips to the doctor for shots and check-ups. Same goes for our new pup. We’ve already had several vet visits—the first, a general check-up to get to know the veterinarian, and then several more for shots, and of course one visit due to an overreaction regarding fairly minor symptoms that were, in fact, nothing to be concerned about.

3) Always with the growing. New babies grow like weeds. You blink an eye, and it seems like they have outgrown all of their clothes (and goodness, next thing you know they are asking for the car keys and breaking curfew, I’m sure). Thank goodness, we don’t have to buy Kenzie clothes every time she grows because, holy cow, she just keeps growing (never mind the fact that David has outlawed dog clothes for the Kenz). In just six weeks she has more than doubled her weight and is hardly recognizable from the little nine pound pup we brought home from the breeder. Tipping the scale this morning at over 20 pounds, she is essentially gargantuan and is practically too big for me to lift.

4) Expensive! Babies need lots of things. Hugs and kisses. Diapers and formula. Car seats and cribs. Puppies come with a whole set of costs, both expected and unexpected, and parents of all kinds are more than happy to shell out the cash to make sure their babies have everything they need. Kibble, medicine, toys, a nice crate to hang out in, a doggy bed, a dog walker on days that we aren’t home for hours at a time—you catch my drift.

5) Love attention from Mom and Dad. Babies love cuddling with Mom and Dad—being held and soothed and showered with attention. Puppies are no different. Just as a baby will cry when they want to be held, a puppy will act out if they’re not feeling that they’re getting enough attention. But on the plus side, loving a new baby and loving a new puppy are both very easy things to do—since they’re so lovable of course.

I’m assuming that the greatest difference between getting a puppy and having a baby is that once you have a baby, your parents and grandparents stop nagging you about their dire need of grandchildren/great-grandchildren. The puppy did nothing in that regard—in fact, it just gave my grandparents an opportunity to tell us point blank that a puppy is not the kind of baby they had in mind.

While I’m certainly not a puppy or baby expert, I’m learning a lot about parenthood (at least the puppy version) as Kenzie grows. As everyone seems to say, it will hopefully be excellent training for the day down the road when my husband and I decide to bless Kenzie with a little sister or brother.

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