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My wife and I were at odds about getting a dog.  We had two kids under six and we were both a little overwhelmed. Having a dog was important to both of us, we’d grown up with dogs and we wanted our kids to grow up with one however we were putting it off thinking of the effort of having another fully dependant creature in our care was too much and we couldn’t agree on what dog would be the best fit.  

I’d grown up in the country with Border Collies, as kids we had two and we lived on a 15-acre property.  The dogs had plenty of room to run, herd whatever they could and got plenty of natural exercise.  My dad took them everywhere with him on the back of his ute. They slept in the laundry and both lived to a ripe old age. My wife, an inner-city girl, had grown up with toy breeds and her memories and experiences insisted that small breeds were the only breeds we should consider.  Seeing how we lived in the inner-city suburb of Fitzroy in Melbourne in a small townhouse with a tiny backyard, she had a point. On the other hand, the gardens and parks around the area weren’t far away and there was plenty of open space for the kids and the dog to run amuck.

I must admit I wasn’t a fan of toy breeds. It seemed most folks in our area had them.  Some carried them in their handbags, others had them in a pram as if it was a human baby. Most tottered alongside their owners as if the footpath was so hot, they had to skip to avoid getting their paws burnt, even during winter. They seemed to look at me with no reverence giving me the feeling they knew I was a country hillbilly and didn’t belong in gentrified inner-city Melbourne.

I wouldn’t say the choice of a dog was creating a wedge between my wife and I, however a steely determination did reveal itself and I knew that ultimately the choice of breed would be hers. 

At some point and I can’t remember exactly when, conversation about the dog ceased.  On occasion I would bring it up only to have a diversion put in place that I hadn’t clued onto.  With work and all the comings and goings of young parent life; I parked the idea and went on with grown up stuff believing that a dog was going to be a bit all too hard. 

In mid-September 2008; I walked in the door after getting off the tram from work.  I could hear extra commotion.  Down the hallway being chased by my two kids came the most adorable looking puppy I’d ever seen.  He was a King Charles Cavalier.  I knew nothing about these dogs but knew he was just right for our family.  My daughter had named him Owen. Yep Owen and I only found out a few years later that Owen was the name of a kid she went to kinder with who was her first friend. 

Owen is now 12. Our kids are almost adults and they’ve grown up with Owen for as long as they can remember.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  I can honestly say that Owen has taught my kids how to value life, love other creatures, share, nurture, be responsible and empathetic. So, when you don’t have access to a village, a dog can fill part of that void.  When you have kids, no matter where you live, get a dog.

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