Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Daycare Dog


Let me tell you about our daycare dog. He's a beast. Coming in a 90 lbs., he's still pure puppy at 18 months old. He towers above babies and even the two year olds. Snacks and meals times are his favorite because he knows he gets to clean the floor after and occasionally snatch food off of plates if mom doesn't remind him to leave it. 

I was so unsure about adding a dog to our family with daycare around. My mind instantly went to the horror stories of an irritable dog, bites, etc. To say I thought long and hard about getting a dog is an understatement. I thought about it, researched it, and even worried about it for five whole years before I began reaching out to places. My husband and I agreed that if we were to get a dog we wanted to adopt (as we did with our cats fifteen years ago). I did not expect to have a brutally honest conversation with a lady at one of our local rescues. She looked me in the eye and told me what I needed to hear: we would be the last people they or any rescue would adopt a dog to because we are considered "high risk." Meaning, our home and lifestyle isn't a fit for many rescue animals. We needed to be careful about which breed we brought into our home and they couldn't take the risk with us.

Luckily, I had done my research. I knew we wanted a labrador retriever. I was convinced that was the dog for us. I placed us on a waiting list with a breeder (whom I researched thoroughly and met with beforehand). Then the pandemic hit, life got crazy, and I completely forgot about it until one day in early May 2020. I got the call we would be picking up our fur child that next month. I spent a month preparing our home and above all else, daycare. This included having them read books about the breed, how to handle a puppy, and the commands we would be using for the dog. 

Now that we are out of the very puppy-ish phase, I can honestly laugh about how worried I was about bringing a dog into our home and daycare. I won't hide it when I say there were a few nips to the older kids during those first few months (nothing severe, he just didn't know how to play gently with kids he considered friends) and some confusion about how to handle their own bodies (the kids, not the dog), however, it truly has been one of the best things I've bought for daycare (and our family). As I've watched that 18 month old pup in the last few months, I've realized how amazing it is to have him around.

He is adored by every child. It is not uncommon to see a child snuggled up with him, crawling on him, and jumping over him. He is the first thing every (talking) child asks for when stepping through the door and is a comfort whenever a child is upset. He's stopped taking the toys off of the floor and chewing on them, so that's cut down on most of the doggy drama (as I call it). It wasn't until the other day that one of the little's said their very first word, "Zeus," that I realized how loved he is. It may not be fun when I have to clean dog poop off of someone's shoes because a pile was missed during poop pick up, but it's been an experience I'm not going to forget.

This is how Zeus waits every morning for kids to show up. He loves the littles and is beyond amazing with them, but it's the big kids, the ones who helped raise him that first summer, that he's especially fond of. There's a few names we can't say aloud or he loses his mind until he sees them.

It's a common sight to see him sleeping in the middle of the daycare room, while the kids jump over him, occasionally trip on him, drop toys on him, run a shopping cart into him, and snuggle up to him. None of it bothers him and it rarely causes him to move out of the way (which would be the easiest thing). This is the life he's grown up in and doesn't mind it one bit.