As readers of this blog would already know, our eldest child moved out of home a few months ago leaving me feeling bereft and with empty arms. I wasn’t quite ready to move on to the next phase of our lives—the one where the children leave.
I asked my husband if I could replace our daughter with a puppy. That is, another puppy—we already had Gretel, whom we’d got to replace Molly, our old dog, when she left us. My husband wasn’t keen—he likes that the number of live beings in this house will become fewer over the next decade or so.
I tried the, ‘It’s either another dog or another baby…’ trick, but given that’s no longer possible due to dainty surgery over a decade ago, it lacked impact.
Luckily, I had the kids onside. Together we pleaded and begged until he caved.
And here is our new baby:
As you can see, she looks remarkably similar to the child she’s replaced:
They both have dark hair, although Isabelle’s is slightly longer. The more astute of you might have noticed that they both have brown eyes, too.
I am glowing with new motherhood and I couldn’t recommend this type of new motherhood more highly. Our new baby has filled the gap left in our home, in my arms, and in Isabelle’s bed.
I’ve almost forgotten about what’s-her-name, the one that moved out.
Our new dog-baby has given me all the benefits of a human baby, but with only a fraction of the hassles. In fact, it’s been so successful that I can’t wait for the rest of our kids to leave so I can replace them with a pup, too.
Here are some of the reasons why:
1. There is no pregnancy. Someone else has done it for me! Having done four pregnancies of my own, I feel only horror at the memory of the nausea, the widening girth, the stretch marks, the reflux. Not to mention the actual birth and its sore aftermath. None of that this time.
2. There is no breast-feeding. Someone else has kindly done that for me, too.
3. There are no sleepless nights. At ten weeks of age, our baby already sleeps through the night. Every single night. NONE of the children we made did that.
4. There are no nappies to change. And—if I may have a little brag—our baby is already well on the way to being house-trained.
5. Our baby already walks, so I don’t have to carry her. Nor push her in a pram. My arms are free.
6. She entertains herself. I just give her a rubber toy or a treat or set her down with Gretel, and she’s happy. Not once have I had to lie her under an arc of dangling things playing tinkling music. Not once have I had to play peek-a-boo with her. I haven’t even had to set her in front of Play School. And not once will I ever, ever hear her whinge that she is bored.
6. Her education is much quicker and cheaper. Puppy school lasts only a few weeks and that’s it. Education done. None of this primary, then secondary, then tertiary schooling business. No requests for help with Maths, or music practice, or an assignment that’s due.
7. We can already go out and leave her at home with her older sister.
8. She feeds herself. And she likes what I put in front of her. She eats it, all of it, every last morsel. Heartily. She never says, ‘Yuk’ at the sight of something I’ve spent hours preparing, or ‘Is this enough?’ after eating two peas.
9. She never sleeps in our bed forcing us to move out and sleep in hers.
10. She lets me talk to my husband without interrupting.
11. She lets me write in the attic without interrupting.
12. I get looks of love and adoration just by rattling her food container or showing her the lead.
13. Lastly, she’s just as cute as the babies we made ourselves.
At this stage of life, I’m glad to have passed through the baby production years. I did them for long enough and I was more than happy to close that door when the time came. However, I’m not quite ready to move onto the next phase, the one where the kids leave, and my husband and I will be alone, just the two of us, rattling around in a big, empty house. That thought fills me with sadness. Fortunately, by replacing our kids with doggy babies, I can delay that for as long as I like. Or as long as my husband lets me. It’s the best of both worlds, really—we still have a lovely, lively family of ‘kids’, albeit furrier ones that walk on four legs.
And at night, I can peacefully slide between my sheets and don my specs for a quiet read, knowing I have a full night’s sleep ahead of me.
Has anyone else replaced their child with a pet and found it fulfilling? Is anyone considering it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.