OLD SOUL: Dogs are not just a four-legged friend, but a bridge to parenthood

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By Maria Rodriguez

Dogs are often marketed to parents as four-legged companions who teach their kids about responsibility, dedication, and discipline. But after living life with the same adorable dog for more than 7 years, (for me) owning a dog has become a tool to understand my parents more.  

I first realized this when we were moving (to another place). Of course, it wasn’t as smooth and easy as it is depicted in the movies —a quick montage. As a child, of course, I have this seemingly never-ending desire to have fun. But as you probably know, things are a bit tense for parents (who are in that situation) so they can get a bit impatient. As someone who’s never been a parent, it’s quite difficult for me to understand my parents —-how they feel and react to things. But one night, in the process of our slow moving-in (to a new location) and out (of the old one), we got home late and I (still) had to take out Lylo (my dog) for a walk. Of course, I was tired. As Lylo stalled to stay outside a bit longer, I found myself raising my voice, getting mad at her, and feeling frustrated. I was acting like my parents! I finally understood them better. Of course, it’s not the exact, full experience of parenthood, but I got to relate to them to some degree; understanding how hard it is to pack up (all of) your belongings, having to eat (whatever is available and edible at the moment), getting gate passes (and work permits), etc —all while having to care for another small, fun-seeking human being!  

In the early years of “parenthood,” all the daily tasks seem so fun, delightful, and fulfilling (similar to caring for a newborn, perhaps?). But as time goes by, you get older, busier, and to be frank tired of it all. Everything feels like a chore:  Feeding the little wannabe “Hooman,” playing with “it,” and those twice-a-day walks no longer seem refreshing —it’s all just plain tiring. Not to mention the loud barks and whines that interrupt a possibly important, life-changing zoom call.  I don’t know, but it’s like (I feel like) I’m a failure as a “pawrent.”  I guess parents sometimes feel that way too —especially during the pandemic. According to a talk I once heard, this is the true test of love:  Loving is doing what must be done for the welfare and or happiness of your loved one.