When my husband Nate first told me he wanted a German Shepherd, I scoffed at the thought of this hairy pooch.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what we need,” I told him. “Family, with a side of fur!”
My sister and I grew up with cats. Short-haired cats. Dogs have always been foreign entities to me, as distant as grown-up ideals to a child. Shepherds collectively seemed boisterous and messy — an opinion I haven’t really changed in my two-and-a-half years since we adopted one (although now, of course, I think of those traits with fondness). The idea was pushed into the future, with promises that my husband could have a dog as soon as we got settled in a home with a yard.
He held me to my word.
We closed on our house in the rural San Diego hills when I was 8-months-pregnant with our second son. I returned from speaking at a conference to find Nate clutching keys in one hand and a puppy in the other! House-training a German Shepherd while juggling an 18-month-old and an infant became my reality, and it was tough. While my husband was off at work, we were each other’s company.
At first I felt overwhelmed, but our new pup, Kraken, quickly became a welcome constant. He scared off a burglar just months after we got him, solidifying his spot as our guardian. This ball of fur dutifully watched me renovate every inch of our property, and my children came to understand that he was their constant friend and protector.
Now, the boys tromp around confidently with Kraken as their playmate. He’s their time-out buddy during troubled moments and their fetch friend when rogue balls come over our fence.
At lunch time, I lay out treats for the whole crew. Our watchful pup gets the occasional reward: Beneful Chopped Blends With Beef, Carrots, Peas & Barley made with savoury, real ingredients and sauce. He no longer has to sneak snacks from the kids; he has his own flavorful food with a texture that he loves. I like that the brand supports community initiatives, such as the annual dream park that helps dog owners around the country celebrate their four-legged friends with a $500,000 renovation of a local dog park. Not a shabby way to honour the family pet!
For me, watching this rag-tag crew eat together is one of my favourite times of day. It’s quiet, for once, and I swear I can see similarities in their expressions and behaviour. They throw themselves heartily into their food, nose-first and eager. It’s the same way these friends tackle most things in life, with curiosity and excitement converging.
After lunch, the boys and our dog wear themselves out exploring side-by-side. Their bellies rise as they snuggle together on the couch, yawning. We wait for dad to return to play with his kids and the dog he always wanted.
It dawns on me that the words I said to him so many years ago actually do ring true.
This is how my family was meant to be: content and complete, with a side of fur.
*This post is sponsored by Beneful. Thoughts and opinions are my own.