The mothers in my life agree that this dog is very good practice for parenthood.

Gillian Sisley
Jul 9 · 5 min read
Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

About nine months ago my partner and I rescued a purebred shih tzu.

This wasn’t necessarily a decision we made willingly — rather a family member was planning to sell her dog on a generic buy-and-sell website, and we couldn’t stomach the idea of seeing the little guy go to a family who wouldn’t care for him.

So now we have a dog… far earlier than planned.

But I also make it clear that this timeline is subject to change. We, as the intended parents, get to modify the timeline as we wish, and she’s not allowed to be upset with us.

Little did I know I’m already basically a mom, because shih tzus are not your typical dog, and mine is just an extra special case of complicated which I have no doubt is a great intro to motherhood.


This dog is extremely high maintenance.

Shih Tzus can be described as a breed that is defensive and stubborn. This is a definition that can also be used to describe a two or three-year-old who was just coming into their own and testing their boundaries in the world around them.

Shih tzus aren’t all that different from the three-year-olds I’ve babysat and spent time with in my life.

They like what they like, they don’t like doing something they don’t want to do, and they like to throw the occasional temper tantrum at the most inconvenient moment possible.

Our shih tzu is also a little tedious in the sense that he has a lot of dietary issues.

Much like a child who is Gluten-Sensitive or allergic to peanuts, our dog is not able to eat certain grains and we have to buy extremely expensive dog food to suit his preferences so that he doesn’t have an allergic reaction and break out in hives.

Better the expensive dog food than the $80/month allergy medication our vet tried to get us to buy into.


This dog is extremely messy.

If you had told me last year that my part-time job would be cleaning up after my shih tzu’s mess of destruction, between his blanket and the explosive diarrhea which was stuck in his fur earlier today, I would have laughed at you.

But here we are, on a sunny Tuesday afternoon, my arms elbow-deep in the tub attempting to clean off the yellow stained fur on my shih tzu’s rear end. What a lovely way to spend one’s lunch break.

My mother has mentioned to me that when one a child, they can expect for the baby’s poop for the first year to be yellow slush... sorry if that was too much information but it’s true.

As I looked at my dog’s rear end, cringing my nose at the foul smell of this yellow mush which was staining his pure white fur, I couldn’t help but think:

“Wow… this must be what parenthood is like… only every single day. ”


This dog is my baby.

He is over emotional, he likes to throw tantrums, he’s basically the biggest attention seeker I’ve ever met, and there are just some days he makes me want to pull out my hair.

And that doesn’t include the behavioural issues, which trust me there were a plenty, when he first came to us.

His original owner didn’t give him enough training and discipline and boundaries to ensure that he would grow up to be a well-tempered dog.

And so here we are, trying our best to reverse his behaviour, so that he can be a socially acceptable dog who can exist well in society without completely losing his sh*t and biting someone out of self-defense, because he’s basically afraid of everything under the sun.

The first time I dropped him at the dog border I expected to be extremely relieved and excited to leave him behind.

The prospect of leaving my baby behind with a stranger for 2 weeks became a very sad reality.

I’ve heard parents say the same thing before.

That they love their kids to death but they just need a break from them npw and again — and then the moment they actually get a break from their kids they miss them immensely and can’t remember why they are wanted a break to begin with.

Now, I might be making a whole lot of assumptions, but from my friends who have kids and from stories from my parents, I’m feeling like I’m already getting a lot of really great preparation for motherhood through this tiny little white rescued pain in my a**.


Final word.

Does he drive me crazy? Absolutely.

Are there days I wish I could have some peace and quiet from him? 100%.

Because despite my best efforts, this little sh*t-disturber has slowly but surely wriggled his way into my heart.

And while I may have not been as fond of him in the beginning, these days I can’t imagine life without him.

And quite frankly, I imagine parenthood is just about the same.

I’m not the type to fantasize about having a mini-me with the best behaviour from good parenting who does what they’re told and who is always a joy.

I envisioned that Parenthood is going to be a lot like raising this shih tzu, only about a hundred times more intense.

Which, to be honest, is a slightly terrifying idea...

But at the same time, looking at the reward of what this dog has done in my life, and what he’s given me in the short 9 months, I’m absolutely ecstatic and excited for that day.

I’m excited to venture into the world of parenthood with my tiny little trouble-making tater tots to see what amazing things they will accomplish in their lives and the fulfillment they will bring into mine.


The Clever Quill

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Gillian Sisley

Written by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. Lover of GIFs. I write about womanhood, writing & entrepreneurship, & craft dainty little poetic ditties ✌

The Clever Quill

A creative space for the insatiably curious.

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