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Raising kids and dogs

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Emily Davis, Ella Davis, Evelyn Davis

NEW FUR BROTHER The Davis sisters, (from left) Emily, Ella and Evelyn, recently welcomed Bernedoodle puppy Winston P. Davis to their home.  

Buzz Baby is a column about life with babies. Writer Annie McQueen is a mother of four children under the age of 6.

I have watched my tagline for this column grow over the years.

“Annie McQueen is a mother of twins.”

“Annie McQueen is a mother of three children under 2.”

“Annie McQueen is a mother of four children under the age of 6.” 

I want to petition for one last addition: “…and three dogs and two foster puppies.”

Being a dog mom while also a mom of young children can present challenges, but it is a worthy adventure. We adopted our newest dog, Ollie, a Great Pyrenees from the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society, back in March 2018. (We already had two smaller poodle mixes, Toby, and Birdie.) I was a little worried about bringing home an extra-large dog when we already spent so much time caring for our kids, but it worked out beautifully.

I find his presence in our family helps me. The kids play with him all day, and they tire each other out. He is their comfort after a sad moment. He is their pillow while watching Peppa Pig. He is their show-and-tell (well, my daughter brought a picture of him to school).

A neighbor, Ashleigh Davis, who runs the non-profit Little Lights Houston, has three girls, Ella, 6; Emily, 4; and Evelyn, 2. They have a 15-week-old Bernedoodle, a Bernese Mountain Dog and poodle mix. They named him Winston P. Davis, and the middle initial just perfectly captures his little man-looking face. (P stands for Pickles.) 

Ashleigh has shoulder-length blonde hair and a kind smile. She epitomizes a patient parent. She often takes her girls out on their bikes with Winston, and even though it is hectic walking a puppy with children, you can tell she enjoys it. 

Ashleigh says her favorite part of getting a cute puppy has been stopping to talk to neighbors who want to meet adorable Winston. With his little brown and black badger face, he draws people in she had not met before. 

But it is not always easy. “One minute you think to yourself, ‘This was a good idea. We should have done this sooner,’” she said, laughing. “But before you know, everything falls apart.”

On one recent day, Winston was dragging Ella around by the tail of her shirt while Ella was having a meltdown after an exhausting day at school, and Evelyn, who was potty trained one week before the puppy arrived, had a potty accident.

I am inspired by Ashleigh and other Buzz moms, like Rosie Murphy (who has fostered more than 30 dogs over the years, including some from the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society), mother-daughter duo Natalie and Emily Baker (who fostered for K-9 Angels), and Patty Bowen (who fosters for Mile High Labrador Retriever Mission). I met them for a Buzz article a year ago.

I was toast the minute I laid eyes on cute Ollie on the Great Pyrenees Rescue Society website under adoptable dogs.  

Ollie was a giant fluff when we picked him up from his foster home. He would lay across my kids, in their tousled hair and pajamas, in the mornings to watch cartoons. He was around 13 weeks old at the time, but he was already huge. He had these giant round paws. He is now 110 pounds.

Raising small children with dogs is time-consuming but worth it. It is rewarding to see our children playing with the dogs, but everyone must be fed – everyone has to potty. Do not feed those dogs together... oh wait, the little one only likes a dollop of wet food to the left of her dry food on white paper plates only. So many little creatures who cannot feed themselves. I feel I am anchored from leaving town until I come up with a serious boarding or dog-sitter plan. But let’s get real. We have four kids. It is not like I am hopping a flight to Paris tomorrow.

To add some propane to the fire, we picked up foster puppies last month after my husband reluctantly agreed to foster not one but two puppies for two weeks. They look like baby polar bears waddling around the house. They are so cute. 

Having two cute puppies felt like a reward after a doozy of a year with the pandemic. When I went outside that evening to let them have potty breaks, I saw a large full moon peering through broken clouds. A global pandemic, a full moon and quarantining with kids. A dog lover could totally be forgiven to saying yes, for two weeks at least, to adorable giant fluffs.

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