Getting a dog is absolutely a life-changing experience at any age, but there’s just something extra special about the bond between a boy and his dog. Today, we have a beautiful story from Victoria Franzese about how getting a pup for her son changed her world! You’re going to love it!
How Getting My Son a Dog Changed My Life Forever
In theory, we got the dog for my son. Kenny had wanted a dog his entire life. The word “dog” was one of the first three words he ever spoke. It was his number one request for every gift-giving occasion. But my husband, Dan, suffers from allergies and I knew that all the work involved in having a dog would inevitably fall to me. So for years, we put Kenny off with the excuse that he had to be old enough to take care of it himself.
Then one day, he was. The year he turned eleven, he ratcheted up his appeals. He did research about how some breeds with hair rather than fur are considered hypoallergenic. And he pointed to the data showing that dogs reduce stress and actually help keep people healthier and happier. It was this last point that really got to us.
Both Dan and I had grown up with dogs and we knew the comfort that having a canine confidante could bring whenever the challenges of adolescence became overwhelming. So, finally, we agreed to give our son a puppy.
As I expected, the puppy (named Jenkins after my son’s favorite football player), was lots of work. For example, housebreaking a pup is never an easy task. But when you live in a high rise apartment building in New York City and can’t simply open the door to send the dog into the backyard, it becomes even more complicated. We would rush down our long hallway and wait for the elevator with fingers crossed, hoping that Jenkins could hold his bladder long enough not to soil the carpet in elevator or the marble floor in the lobby. In those first weeks, we took Jenkins outside a least a dozen times a day (including through the night), to make sure he learned exactly where he was supposed to be doing his “business.”
But instead of being annoyed at all the time and effort involved in caring for Jenkins that first summer, I found that I enjoyed it. With all that extra walking, I lost ten pounds—excess weight that I hadn’t been able to shed even by training for two marathons. Accompanied by one of the friendliest dogs imaginable, I found myself talking to my neighbors, making new friends, and getting to know all kinds of people, that I otherwise would have walked right by, as we New Yorkers tend to do.
Everyday errands became an adventure with the dog in tow. Seeing the world through a puppy’s eyes—the way Jenkins lives fully in the present, is always ready to try something new, considers every new acquaintance (human or canine) a potential best friend, and approaches each morning with enthusiasm—is a true antidote to the pervasive negativity of the modern world.
I was prepared for how happy a puppy would make my son. What I didn’t expect was how happy that puppy has made me.
Victoria Otto Franzese is a freelance writer, fierce New Yorker, mom, and proud owner of a Goldendoodle named Jenkins. She used to run a successful online travel guide; now she just travels for fun. See where she’s going next at @VOFranzese. You can also see a list of my publications on Amazon.