Not satisfied with adopting two kids, not satisfied with moving to Paris, now we have adopted a dog.
It’s taken me 18 years to finally get a dog. The stickler was King of the Mountains, who vetoed every request. Even after I had corralled the support of my troops: Wonder Boy and Super Girl.
But having moved his family to Paris, he has bowed to pressure and we have Lucius who has done wonders for our family.
Our lives are calmer
The biggest change has been the calm that has descended on our home. I can sense the kids’ cortisol levels starting to regulate. Breakfast is far less explosive these days.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that boys with an insecure or disorganized attachment, cortisol levels dropped significantly faster and to lower levels after a exposure to a stressor when supported by a real dog rather than other forms of support, such as a friendly adult or a soft toy dog.
The study suggests that the interaction with a dog, such as stroking, produces oxytocin, this inhibits the production of cortisol, and so the child starts to feel relaxed and experiences less stress. There’s hard science supporting the dog theory!
Getting attached to your pet
There is some really interesting work going on looking at animals as attachment figures.
Coram BAAF, an adoption and fostering professional membership organisation has produced a good practice the guide: Dogs and pets in fostering and adoption. The guide is aimed at parents, carers and professionals.
Making the switch
This is the really interesting bit how an animal can really help a child to form an attachment. The child forms a relationship with the pet, when they see that the pet trusts their carer, they feel able to trust their carer too.
A pet can help a child start to experience their home in a more positive light. We are definitely starting to see this. The first six-month in Paris hasn’t been easy, but with Lucius in our lives, the kids are waking up with a smile on their faces.
We are starting to experience the benefit a pet can bring to the life of an adopted child, helping the attachment process and make a new home feel like a real home.
Added benefits of having a dog
The dynamics of our family have changed. Lucius isn’t just a play-thing, he needs to be looked after and taken care of. The kids are having to:
- Be more independent
Both kids have had to become more independent. Now I am potty training Lucius, the kids are having to do more themselves – Want more milk? You know where the fridge is!
- Be more responsible
Having a pet is a good lesson in responsibility. We have another life in the household, one who relies on us for his safety, wellbeing and happiness. The kids have to clear away their plates and cutlery after meals, clear up after themselves after playing, pick up their things off the floor, and put away their laundry if they don’t want their socks chewed.
A few facts about Lucius
- He’s just over three months old, born on New Year’s day 2016.
- He’s a mixed breed, a golden Labrador and something else, if you think you can guess – let me know
- He came from Reunion, where if he stayed, we think we would have been a street dog.
- We adopted him through Les Petits Innocents, a dog and cat adoption charity based in France.
Do you have a pet in your house? How has your pet helped your kids? Please let me know, and send pictures.