Napoleon, our 10-year-old pembroke Welsh corgi, is as much of a son to us as our one-year-old son, T. Before T was born, Nap was the center of our universe. He co-slept with us for nine years, we had weeknight cuddle time on our living room floor, weekends were filled with beach adventures, and we brought him everywhere with us. And when we found out we were pregnant with T, we knew that this precious time with Nap would have to change, but we were determined to show our first baby as much love as we did the first day we brought him home.
But sleepless nights, unpredicatable days, and learning to care for this tiny human kept our attention hyper focused on T. And just like that, gone were the days of co-sleeping, weeknight cuddling, and weekend beach adventuring with our beloved corgi, Napoleon. Walks were short laps by our house, cuddles turned into some pats and scratches behind the ears, and beach playtime duties were passed off to our new daily dogwalker. Nap was another neglected pet due to new parenthood, and wasn’t feeling the love like before.
And then, we found this incredible, cry-your-eyes-out article, “20 Essential Facts Dog Lovers Must Always Remember.” Heartstrings were yanked, and our committment as pet parents was renewed. Nap doesn’t need big gestures to feel loved—it’s the little moments that matter the most. So we promised ourselves and Nap that we’d show our love no matter how zany the day, and everyone has been happier since. So for all of us who have furry family members, here are 4 easy ways to make our dogs feel loved every day.
1. Make Them a Part of Every Milestone.
When T was first born, the idea of pushing a stroller and walking our dog Nap (solo) seemed next to impossible. It was less stressful to head out on walks and errands without our furry guy, but we knew he wanted to be part of our T’s new experiences out in the world. So we took baby steps. We let Nap lounge by our feet while T practiced tummy time. I practiced solo walks with T and Nap around the block of our house. Soon, Nap was part of our daily routine and was there for every milestone—T laughed and clapped at Nap for the first time, one of is first words was “Da,” which we realized wasn’t for “dada”—it was for “dog”—and, as seen in this photo, Nap was T’s partner during his first trip to Beignet Sundays at our neighborhood bakery. Letting our dog be a part of the small parts of our day made all the difference for Nap.
2. Plan Pet Friendly Family Adventures.
T loves the zoo, Academy of Sciences, and the Children’s Playground at Golden Gate Park. But Nap isn’t allowed in these toddler utopias. So when we plan our weekend family advventures, we try and strike a balance with enough pet friendly places. This photo is from one of our weekend road trips to Tomales Bay—a special place for our family that also happens to be super pet friendly!
3. Schedule in One-on-One Fun.
As challenging at it can be, we know Nap deserves one-on-one love as much as he did before T was born. So when T goes down for the night, we’ll cuddle with him on our living room floor and watch TV. And on weekend mornings, the hubs will take Nap out on an extra long beach walk while T and I play in the house. Investing even just a few minutes of special time with our furry friends will make their hearts feel full again.
4. Make Their Day with a Special Surprise.
Pets love surprises as much as humans do. Whenever I’m picking up Nap’s dog food at the neighborhood pet store, I pick up a few of his favorite special treats to surprise him with when the hubs and I are having a particularly crazy week and don’t have enough minutes in the day to shower Nap with kisses and hugs. An extra long bully stick, some peanut butter dog cookies, “frosty paws” doggie ice cream for a hot day, or a bag of his beloved frozen marrow bones—Nap’s eyes light up the second he discovers these treats in his bowl, and he’s beaming all day long.
These are just the first steps we’re taking to make our dog feel loved every day. Even after a few days and weeks, these little ways feel like a part of our routine instad of extra stuff we have to do. And we’ve realized that it’s the small, everyday moments of affection and time that make Nap the happiest dog on the block. A little love goes a very long way for our furry family members—let’s add a little more each day.
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