I need a dog!

By Scott Avery

I was starting to feel a little out numbered with three women in the house. It was clearly time for another man to restore some semblance of gender balance. Another baby seemed out of the question - were we up to going through the poo and goo stage one more time?

No, it was clearly time to get another dog.

The difference between kids and pets is that you get to pick you pets. We had spent a bit of time researching which type of dog suited our family. With young kids and a medium sized yard, road tests indicated we needed to go for a small to medium sized dog, like corgis and cocker spaniels.

My requirements were more simple - it needed to be blokey enough to pass as a man's dog, but cute enough to stop women in the street whenever I take him for a walk.

With good intentions, we scoured the dog adoption websites but always seemed to just miss out when we came across a suitable dog. Eventually, we came across the breeders' sites, and after a few phone calls and one cross-city adventure later, welcome Morris, our new welsh cardigan corgi.

As it turns out, the choice of breed and gender is about where the difference between new pets and new babies ends. For starters, I was told that naming a pet was harder than naming a baby. So true. Perhaps that's because there's no long lost relative to name him after and there are many more family members that feel they have the right for naming input. Also, the naming options are infinite, as you don't want him to get teased at school if you give him a weird name (especially if he's a staffy).

Then there are the basics, such as making sure they are eating properly and are secure (even if they sleep outside, which hopefully doesn't happen with new babies). You have to think about making sure they don't run on the road, and get them enrolled into puppy school. Doctors visits and needles. And we discovered very quickly that our expectations of avoiding poo and goo were somewhat misplaced.
Even the social support networks we have had for our dog would rival any mums or dads support groups. We have had friends ring up regularly with their dog tips and websites to check out. Morris even has Anna, his own dogmother, to make sure his upbringing is wholesome and fulfilling.

And then there is the pet accessory market. Remember how many choices of dummies there were? A similar sensation of foreboding overcame us in one of the two dog leash aisle at Pet Care 2000!

It has been good timing for us to get a new dog, with our girls at the age when they are ready to learn about taking responsibility. Even after a short time, it has been remarkable to see the change in their behaviour. They feed him, exercise him for hours on end, and Morris even became the talk of kindy when he visited for Show and Tell. (make sure you check this is o.k before you try this at home). They are even much better at picking up their Barbies, after an unfortunate incident with Fairy Crystal Barbie that ended in decapitation.

Whilst our main challenge in introducing the dog to the family is to stop our girls smothering him with kindness and feeding him their bickies, different situations present different challenges. I was speaking to another dad who had a couple of dogs before he had his first child. The dogs lived inside, so he spent a lot of time leading up to the birth preparing them for the arrival of the new baby, and had to "introduce" them and be extremely watchful when the baby arrived home.

Getting a dog or any other pet requires a bit of work, which needs to be thought through particularly if you are considering giving one as a present. But as with any new family member, the work is worth it with the fun and rewards you get out of it.

Importantly for me, there is another male in the house, and we vote as a bloc when it comes to deciding what is on the tele. This will be very handy come cricket time.