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Dogs and AC

(11 Posts)
tldr Sun 22-Nov-15 15:03:08

We're two years post placement, with 2 DC ages 6 and 4 and we're mostly doing okay. DD needs lots of physical attention - she can't be in the same room as us without being on or next to us. If we're unavailable she'll make DS sit with her. Quite often all of us will be in one seat. She can also be really anxious though she's not been formally diagnosed with anything. She also doesn't really play. She'll read and colour for a bit, or she'd watch TV all day if she was allowed to.

I'm not going to lie, I'm finding the constant touching really hard going. I make excuses to be elsewhere/doing chores/needing my hands free.

Then a friend with dog visited. And DD stroked dog for hours. And was visibly relaxed. And sat stroking dog and chuckling away to herself.

And I thought, we should get a dog. It's so obvious.

Is it obvious? Am I trying to outsource parenting to a dog? Or am I enhancing parenting because I'll be able to do it better if I do it less? Or am I making it worse for myself because the dog will want stroking too? Might the dog make her happy/less anxious?

I'm not asking about the general stuff about having a dog, only specifically about how it would relate to DD really. Anyone have any thoughts?

anxious123 Sun 22-Nov-15 15:51:23

Not adoption specific here but I know first hand how much the love of a furry friend helped me as a child going through trauma. I now work with horses, and by default kids, and they all get something out of it - including adopted children and children with LAC status.

I grew up the victim of abuse, and by default, also the issues that came with it, anxiety, depression, self loathing etc, and nothing calmed me down quite like an animal cuddle, any animal within my sight/reach was (and still is opps!) Likely to get strokes and "silly" voices.

MrsH1989 Sun 22-Nov-15 18:19:33

I have heard pets can help children alot. My cousin got her DS a cat when she split from his father. My husband was given a dog when he was small after suffering meningitis and having been kept inside alone for weeks with no friends due to poor immune system. I also read something about it recently on first4adoption. I think it said that it helps some children but just make sure the child respects the animal and doesnt smother them - my dog couldnt possibly be smothered with too much attention!

Haffdonga Sun 22-Nov-15 18:51:11

It could be great and provide your dd with a new focus and attachment but alternatively the novelty could wear off for your dd and you find yourself lumbered with a new responsibility that you can't leave her alone with. Your dd could even express jealousy or resentment towards the dog if it takes your attention from her. And at the end of the day, do you really really want a dog too, as well as hoping it will be positive for dd?

I know an adopted dc who sounds similar in ways to your dd in terms of the need for physical comfort and proximity. A tolerant and patient dog was temporarily added to the mix and it didn't work at all. The dog couldn't tolerate the constant cuddles and hugs and got snappy. The dc decided they didn't like the dog. The dog was miserable and had to go.

Would there be a way of 'borrowing' a friendly dog as a trial run for a week or two before committing to taking on one of your own to see how your dd and the dog copes?

Stampingduck Sun 22-Nov-15 22:15:36

Does it have to be a dog? What about a long haired Guinea pig/rabbit she could hold and groom. Unless you also want a dog I wouldn't get one. I have friends with asd kids who have got dogs with great results, but they do the hard work and the kids benefit.

Italiangreyhound Mon 23-Nov-15 00:14:03

I agree with Haffdonga, was just going to say can you dog sit and see how it goes? And agree with Stampingduck to explore other pets.

We have a cat, it is a lot easier than a dog, he has a cat flap to the garden and can come and go when he pleases but the cat flap can be shut when we want to keep him in (at night), he is quite affectionate and friendly but does not require long walks (any walks)! My friend has a child with ASD and they got a dog as they thought it would help get the kids out in the fresh air but the dogs barking really bothered her daughter.

Whatever pet you get I would see if it is possible to do a trial, for this reason I would just see what different rescue centre or breeders could offer you. I normally say to get from a rescue centre, as we did with our cat, but in this case I think you need a pet with no issues or previous experiences you don't know about, so I would be tempted to get a youngish pet and see if anyone would do a trial. Be very careful how you phrase the trial, by this I mean if you say the pet will come forever and then decide to send it back this could chime badly with your kids, for obvious reasons (my son is adopted and we had to be very careful when looking at rescue rabbits that had had a bad start in life!!). So it may be easier to say you are dog sitting for a week/month or cat sitting and if it goes well ask the kids if they want to keep the pet once you feel sure you do want to keep it! Best to speak to kids separately in case you get two different answers!

By the way, are you getting post adoption support and if not, please do ask for it in your area. You may find theraplay or something could help with your daughter's issues with being left. please do get some help and don't rely on the pet for it, although the pet may help, there may be more help out there.

Good luck.

BarbarianMum Mon 23-Nov-15 14:47:33

The thing is, pets aren't toys or therapeutic aids (although they can be very therapeutic). Dog, cat, hamster, rabbit - they'll all need care and they will all have their own personalities. Some pets like lots of contact, others won't. All will have times when they need/want to be left alone.

Have you got experience of having a dog/other pet?

Kr1stina Tue 24-Nov-15 12:02:20

I think it's an idea worth exploring and you should do a bit of reading / research first . Perhaps is you google something like pets as therapy or therapeutic animals ?

I think there are charities that use pets and other animals in a therapeutic context , there must be information out there .

tldr Tue 24-Nov-15 14:39:21

Thanks everyone, there's some good ideas here.

We thought a lot about having dogs pre-DC but realised that we were talking about baby substitute so didn't. I haven't really felt like I want one myself since the DC came home, but I've only really just quite recently started feeling like I'm on top of the parenting thing. (I wonder if I just want dog so I can revisit absolute chaos of last couple of years... wink )

After I posted this, I went and hung out on the dog house board for a bit - totally off putting! Not sure I have the brain space to deal with dog psychology as well as child psychology x2 at the moment.

Might look into possibilities for being near dogs without actually owning them.

Small pets would be unlikely to stand the attentions of 4yo (and possibly 6yo) so they're ruled out for the time being.

Thanks all!

ThePartyArtist Thu 26-Nov-15 19:08:17

Why not try borrowing a dog? All the benefits without the hassle!

catsrus Sat 28-Nov-15 11:21:32

Why don't you contact the charity "pets as therapy"

Their dogs are all tested for temperament - they are used in the read2dogs scheme being run in some schools.

This is something they might be interested in supporting - allowing your dd to interact with a calm dog on a regular basis. Having the dog's owner there will mean you only have responsibility for your DC not the dog.

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