Are you considering adding a pet to your family this season? Tiffany Walsh shares how she and her family came to a decision on this issue.
As we journey through the Advent season this year, I am finding a new personal poignancy to it in terms of my own family. My husband and I have two children, and neither of them have ages in the single digits anymore. In other words, we no longer have what I call “little little kids.” Our son is well into teenagerhood, and while our daughter, who is 10, still holds onto the secular Christmas beliefs that we all know and love, I have to think that this will be the last year for that. I am trying to treasure each moment of these special memories as it sinks in how fleeting their childhoods truly are.
One important addition to our family holiday memories this year is Barney, an adorable hound whom we adopted through a local animal rescue. Our children have always longed for a pet, but my husband and I, much as we love animals, did not feel ready for pet ownership until this past summer. In July, we cared for our neighbors’ dogs while they were away on vacation, and the family absolutely thrived. We noted that our children willingly accepted the responsibilities that went along with taking care of an animal, and that their enthusiasm for interacting with the dogs did not wane throughout the week.
Earlier in the year, I had prayed a novena asking for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi on this issue, as I knew that the entire family had to be in agreement for us to take on the substantial undertaking of pet ownership. I had specifically prayed about adopting a cat, because my daughter loves cats, and I thought that might be an easier transition into pet parenthood. Therefore, after our dog-sitting adventures, when my husband came to me and asked what I thought about adopting a dog, I was a bit surprised! My own childhood years had always involved dogs, but taking on the task as an adult intimidated me. It actually took me about a month to discern that this was the way forward for us as a family, that’s how sold I was on my original cat idea! I could see, though, that in terms of all four of us, a family dog was the best choice.
Thus, Barney came into our lives, and I have to say that, while it was a large adjustment, it has been the biggest blessing to our family in quite some time. After having been rescued as a stray, and then cared for by a foster mom before joining our family, Barney, while very sweet and friendly, was quite scared and nervous about yet another uprooting in his young life. It took us all a little time to establish a routine, and for him to fully trust us after all the instability and uncertainty he had endured.
After just a short while, he was our happy cuddle bug, snuggling with everyone on the couch in the evenings, and playing fetch with our daughter in the mornings before school. He has helped me to see that while we have moved on from a certain part of our kids’ childhood, there are still so many good times to come, and ways that we can create special memories as a family. Every time I see my 16-year old’s face light up as he bends to stroke Barney’s fur, I am reminded of this touching fact. Barney now has his very own Christmas stocking hanging on our mantel, and is eagerly awaiting the treats Santa is sure to bring him this year for his patient and good behavior, just as the kids are!
I know that not all families can have a pet in their home for a variety of very good reasons, but if this is something you have been considering and on the fence about, the holiday season is a perfect time to offer a home to an animal in need.
Do you have a furry friend in your life that you are grateful for this year? I would love to hear about them in the comments!
Copyright 2021 Tiffany Walsh
Images: Canva Pro; copyright 2021 Tiffany Walsh, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Tiffany Walsh is a wife and mother, a native western New Yorker, and a college librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student via her love of books, and is the author of Exploring the Catholic Classics, part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. She enjoys writing about faith, crafting, dance, fitness and wellness. Visit her blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian.