Thursday, March 5, 2009

Leader of the Pack

As previously mentioned, we have a new addition to our family: little Ellie Belly who is no bigger than a minute. Getting a pet for the first time was interesting for us... in many ways, it might have been easier to have another newborn since we were already schooled in babies. With puppies, we were clueless!

Coincidentally, I caught an episode of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" last week and they just got 2 puppies. Yes, TWO! (Those Gosselins have to one-up us on everything!) :) The episode was hilarious because Kate expressed sentiments similar to ours- maybe babies are easier than puppies?!?

I have no room to complain. We've had Ellie for over a month and I think we've had 4 "accidents"- all on tile flooring, and all our fault for not taking her out often enough. Lesson learned! She doesn't whimper at night, she doesn't bark, she doesn't scratch at the door or chew things up. She is a piece of cake. (Which means that if we ever get another dog, we are gonna get hammered!)

The hard part, really, was just figuring out what the heck to do with a puppy. Upon the recommendation of a savvy friend, we got Cesar Milan's book, "Member of the Family". Fabulous book. (Thank you, Kelly!) I had trouble tearing it away from Quinn, who loved to pepper me with all kinds of dog trivia while reading it. He got very into it, and determined that we had to work hard to establish good habits with the puppy. He began taking her on regular leashed walks which was hilarious because it looked like he was essentially trying to walk a gerbil.

Quinn also decided that we needed to let the puppy know right from the get-go that we are the "leaders of the pack." As Quinn explained this philosophy to me, we started drawing parallels to parenting and realized that some of the suggestions just might work on our kids! (I mean, the dog was already a gem, but our kids could always use a little work!) As we read on, we realized

that sometimes the kids are totally leading our pack! (when you are this outnumbered, I suppose it's somewhat inevitable.) But now we were equipped to change it!

One day we were getting in the car and Bailey started having a melt down. She refused to get buckled into her carseat. Very calmly, Quinn leaned down, looked her right in the face and said, "Bailey, I am the leader of the pack. You are not the leader of the pack. You will do what I say. Now get in your seat." Shockingly, she immediately calmed down, got in her seat and buckled up. She even smiled.

Weird. We tried it again throughout the week. It always worked. It's gotten to the point that all we have to do is ask, "Who is the leader of the pack?" and the kids automatically respond, "Mommy! Daddy! We are part of the team, but you're the boss!" Brainwashing at it's best, but if it works, I'll take it!

We should have gotten a dog earlier so we could have accessed these amazing parenting secrets! Luckily, it's never too late to teach an old dog (or kid) new tricks.