It is easy to think of motherhood as only belonging to those who have had human children. If I’m honest, I feel awkward saying I’m a mom in front of someone with human children because I have seen the wars over the title on various social media. There is no doubt in my mind that it is a difficult and challenging feat to try and raise a human baby. Personally, I can’t afford to raise one right now, so fur children are the best I can do. But the fact that they have four legs and I didn’t birth them doesn’t change the responsibilities I have to them or the way I feel about them. In this blog I want to talk about my experiences as a fur mom, but I invite you to share your experiences as a mom in the comments too! What are some funny stories of rambunctious kids, or difficulties you’ve have raising your children, be them fur or human, that you would like to share? Use the #capturecreatecommunity and tag our pages if you are posting your answers on twitter or Instagram!
I’ll begin by saying that Amara is a special girl. All moms say that about their kids, but we would all be right, wouldn’t we? Amara is our one-and-a-half-year-old German Shepard-Border Collie cross. She is sweet, smart, curious, kind, shy, and gentle. She loves attention, but because she was abused by her breeder, she is afraid of new people and new animals when they try to give her that attention. When we first met her, she chose us. We went in to meet her originally wanting her sister. My husband loved Amara’s colours, but I loved the darker patterns on her sister. When we met them though, her sister was bigger and more anxious, while Amara fell asleep in our laps as though we were her home. That’s how we knew she was ours. Amara was the runt. It worked out in our favour as our landlord insisted that we have a small dog and, with a heavy border-collie lean, Amara ended up only growing to be about the height of our knees. We didn’t get to pick her up and take her home until a month later when we moved out of the spare bedroom at my parent’s house, to the basement suite at my in-law’s house. When we met her in the parking lot at PetsMart to take her home, she jumped into our arms and slept the whole ride home. She remains a match made in heaven.
Things, as perfect as they are, didn’t run exactly as smoothly as one might hope. Amara had so many special requirements that normal methods of training and care weren’t exactly an option. When we got her she was covered in hives. Laura, our old co-owner who is a groomer, suggested that we switch her off of poultry puppy food. It worked, but damn was that a significant switch for our wallets. Anything for our baby girl so that she is comfortable, healthy, and happy. She is on Salmon and Sweet potato by Simply Nourish. I highly recommend this kibble as her coat is always shiny and soft. We once tried switching it up to lamb and sweet pea, but she could’ve given Pumba a run for his money.
The first few months were difficult. Every two hours we were getting up to let her outside. Once she was potty trained, she would poop and pee on the floor for attention. She chewed nervously, she hated walks, and getting her used to a collar was hell. We tried everything to try and train her while working full time; Anything and everything under the sun so that we wouldn’t have to use a kennel. There was one week where the whole house reeked of apple cider vinegar so we could try and curb the chewing. We tried for months. It turns out some dogs need kennels. If they are as anxious as Amara, then they need to be kennel trained because it’s no longer about training, it’s about dealing with the anxiety. Amara was absolutely trainable, and she remains an extremely intelligent dog. Because of where we got her from and the abused history, she bonded to us so hard that her anxiety was uncontainable while we were gone. Ultimately deciding to kennel train her was the best decision we ever made, and now she is finally in a place where she no longer needs to be left inside of it when we leave.. We got a kennel from a friend who had used it to train his greyhound cross, so it was more than big enough for our little runt, and it stays open for her any time she needs to be alone or she feels anxious.
So we dealt with the anxiety and suddenly we weren’t having accidents in the house on a daily basis. She stuck chewing only her specified toys, and she calmed right down. She became a healthier and happier pup for us. As for the collar, we tried leaving it on cold turkey. After day three she was having intense anxiety reactions. We looked under her fur and found scarring from when she was a pup. I wish we knew who the breeder was so we could report them, but they didn’t let us meet them at their place, and they didn’t keep their add up, so we were unable to contact them again. We were new dog owners and didn’t realize the signs of a puppy mill or abuse until we’d already had Amara for months. Our suggestion before you get a puppy is to look for the signs of a situation like that and report it. Adopting is also better than shopping so, once everything opens back up, find a shelter to adopt from. We highly recommend Saving Grace in Alix. They are a wonderful crew who gives everything they have to the animals in their care.
All said and done, we wouldn’t trade Amara for the world and I’m thankful we were uneducated and found her. She is the most amazing puppy and I think she needed us like we needed her. Now that she’s older she is well trained. She even has her own way of communicating with us through a series of grunts, groans, squeaks, and eyebrow quirks. It’s absolutely adorable.
She has been in a new situation this last week where she must navigate becoming a big sister to our young male kitten named Kovu. He is rambunctious, crazy, and driving me nuts. This Mother’s Day I spent it bathing the little jerk after he stepped all four of his paws through his poop. Thankfully he is not a claw-happy cat. He’s actually very gentle, for a kitten. We’ve had to time share between the cat in the living room and the dog in the bedroom and office area of the house because neither of them was used to the other yet and Amara is so much bigger than him that he craps himself almost anytime she comes in for a sniff. Thankfully in the last few days they can stand to be in the same room together which is a relief.
I have also learned that having a kitten means I’m not allowed to have skin or private time. I have scratches on every limb, and I keep finding new ones. He doesn’t do this on purpose, but even the least claw-happy cats still have claws, and kittens love to climb. If you like having skin, a dog is definitely a better option. If you can deal without it, then cats are alright too. I like cats, but I am even more convinced that I am primarily a dog person. I understand dogs. Cats are weird creatures, but I think they’re worth loving because the reciprocate that love right back in their own ways.
This last week has been stressful, exciting, and relatively sleepless. It will always be worth it for those moments of cuddles and joy even if these two psychos are driving me bonkers. If there is one thing I wish my fur children would eventually be able to do, it is the ability to speak back to me. At least children eventually communicate directly.
Maybe one day I will have a human baby, but for now my fur babies are their own hellish handful, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.