This morning, Rusty lay curled up between me and my husband, Wes, in bed. His head rested on my husband’s pillow and his body was under the covers, with his paws resting gently on Wes’s chest.
“I’m concerned,” I told Wes. “What if we don’t love our baby as much as we love our dog.”
“Don’t be silly,” Wes assured me. “Of course we won’t love the baby as much as we love Rusty. At least not at first. The baby will be fine.”
When I first met Wes three years ago, he wasn’t interested in ever having a dog or any children. He lived with cats. They were enough. I, however, had wanted a dog (and children) for as long as I could remember. So I had to use a few convincing tactics to get home over to my side. Spoiler alert: We now have a dog and I’m pregnant with our first child.
Follow my advice. Here are the steps I took to get Wes on board with the idea of a dog and a baby. Feel free to use these on your own boyfriend, husband, or life partner. Modify as needed.
Step 1: Break him in slowly
I decided that rather than be demanding, I would slowly break Wes in to the idea. We dated for a year before deciding to move in together. As we scoured Craigslist for a cute two-bedroom in San Francisco, I limited our search to dog-friendly apartments. We finally found a place on Divisadero with a fenced-in backyard and a Labradoodle living upstairs. The stage was set …
Step 2: “Let’s just look”
I began to take Wes on dates that happened to be near the SPCA and other rescues. “Hey, we have 30 minutes to kill before our table is ready, let’s pop in to see the puppies …”
One day we were at Family Dog Rescue, just visiting their adoptable dogs. Mutts of every size barked and lunged against the cages. Except one. A little grey Schnauzer mix sat calmly toward the back of his cage.
Wes reached his hand out near the bars, and the dog walked up and sniffed his hand. He gave it a few licks. Wes asked the woman in charge if we could hold the dog. We took him into the visiting room, where the dog proceeded to jump into Wes’s lap, curl up, and fall asleep.
“We’d like to take this dog,” he told the woman.
Step 3: Start referring to the dog as the “practice child”
As soon as Rusty came home, we became a family of three. Rusty settled into his new name and new home as if it was the only one he’d ever known. He still curls up on Wes’s lap every time Wes gets home from work.
“How did we ever live without Rusty?” Wes asks me on nearly a weekly basis.
“That’s what it feels like to be a dad,” I tell him with no personal experience whatsoever. Then I dress Rusty in human clothing.
Step 4: Point out all the ways a child would be even better than a dog
Rusty learned to sit, stay, and come at Doggie Training School. We could not have been prouder parents the day he graduated.
“What a good boy,” says Wes.
“Ah, but he’ll never learn to read,” I point out.
“Rusty is learning to roll over,” says Wes.
“Next you should teach him to play chess.”
The next thing I knew, we were married and pregnant. Once we got Rusty, our commitment steps built on one another like snow on a downhill-bound snowball. Engagement, marriage, and a baby on the way. Bam bam bam. And it all started with a dog …
(Individual results may vary.)
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