Parenting the Pup

The whole empty nest stereotype is bogus. There are as many reactions to graduating out of the daily, in-house parenting phase of life, as there are parents. People who have maintained their own identity while parenting, and most people these days do maintain a healthy identity and don’t live solely through or for their children. But there can be patterns of behavior from the parenting years that are comforting, familiar, and rewarding and that may be maintained once the kids are gone.

I didn’t know that we would fit into this pattern. But we do, I think. Our life together has been almost totally filled with parenting. We didn’t have much time together alone before our family started. And while that may be less than ideal, per what is recommended by marriage experts, that is what we have come to know and with which we are comfortable.

I think that some of this is underlying our decision to get a puppy. We can’t imagine life without a being able to care for a living, loving creature. I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons we now have a 26 lb. puppy.

baby mastiff's BIG foot

Yes, that is right, twenty-six pounds! Our Little Guy has BIG feet.

Humans have a need to parent. There are many ways this urge can be filled, satisfied, or mitigated. Having kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, volunteering with kids, having pets, engaging in a caring profession, and so on also can take care of the innate need to parent. Also, some couples engage in lots of care-taking behavior with each other, and that fills the same care-giving niche.

But us, we parent puppies.  BIG puppies.



  1. says

    OMG just went to a dog show because I”m obsessed with getting a dog; and I’m no empty nester! But we have allergies and been looking at hypoallergenic dogs. Particularly the toy poodle. Know of any breeders?

    • Nancy says

      No, I’m not in the know on that area, though I do recommend checking out the rescue society’s in your area. There are great animals out there – including pure breds who need you. I’m inclined to discuourage using breeders because we over-produce our best friends and then treat them like disposable items. It is sad. If you really want a puppy, and I can understand that… :-) Get to know the rescue folks and when puppies come in, far less frequent than older dogs, you can already be in the loop. Small dogs live a long time and will be your best friends for ages. Good luck Sandra, and let me know what happens!

  2. says

    We have fur babies and have always had them. As the kids left our babies just got even more important and even more part of our lives. They go where we go, when it’s possible and they only want to be where we are. They are the best behaved kids we’ve had!

    Enjoy your baby…we won’t be getting any more babies, we will go for an adult rescue next time and I am quite sure there will be a next time.

    • Nancy says

      Adult rescue is what I was thinking initially, but because we had significant, multianimal, experience already with a big breed that can be aggressive if not trained exceptionally well, they let us in on the puppies. They’ve already been rescued once and we want them all to have forever homes with the next move. We feel so fortunate to have been allowed to adopt our little guy. There are so many puppy mills out there producing animals for profit rather than love, and in country where animals are being killed every day after being heartlessly discarded or losing their lifelong masters, well there are just so many reasons I want to HUG you for saying you will look at adult rescues next time. Jo, you are a WONDERFUL person!

  3. says

    My husband and I are of the opposite opinion. We love the freedom and flexibility of being to go anywhere at anytime and not having to be home to take care of anyone or anything. I do have many friends that did exactly what you did, so I understand the desire, however we are very happy with our decision.

    • Nancy says

      I have friends who are in your situation, but my husband really needs his Dog Friday. Without a loyal canine companion at his side, he feels empty. We both travel a fair amount but independently of each other and when we do travel somewhere together we often drive with the animals, and if that isn’t a possibility, we have great house and pet sitters, and when necessary our wonderful vet also boards animals. The important thing is that we each make our way so that we are happy and fulfilled in ways that make sense for our individual situations.

    • Nancy says

      When we got our first Neapolitan Mastiff our daughter was in preschool and we brought the puppy in to school every week and the kids would sketch/trace out his silhouette to see how growth happens. It is amazing to watch!

  4. says

    Congratulations on your family addition! He is adorable. Those paws show he is going to be a big one! I have had 3 rescued cats. I loved them so much. My sister found a dog in the park that was starved. She got him well, and now he is the king of my parents household. They are retired and mom took to him so my sister gave him to them, and now that dog is no longer hungry and eats better than a lot of people.

    • Nancy says

      Wouldn’t it be great if every cat, dog, and child for that matter, was wanted, loved, fed, and cared for? All of our animals are now rescues. Two dogs, two cats, and one turtle. Sounds like you have a wonderful, loving family. :-)

    • Nancy says

      I had always been a pointy nose dog person until I married my Hubby who loves the square face pups, like Boxers! Now I find them all wonderful.

  5. says

    Love the puppy – is he a lab? I am in your camp about the idea of getting a puppy as the kids leave. We got Gus two years ago when our youngest was in 9th grade and our other dog was four. We have a wonderful person to watch them when we go out of town which is really important! Good luck and take lots of pics. name?

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