Welcome to The Family Dog, Fatherly’s series about dogs and how they make families better. Sure, they might tear up the sofa every once in a while but dogs have an unmistakable impact on both parents and children. Want to submit your dog and their story for inclusion — or just want to show us some great pics of your pooch? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Justin Martin, a father of four is really a father of six — if you count Minnie and Sasha, the family dogs. A blue pit bull and a husky, respectively, Minnie and Sasha joined the household after Justin’s first two kids, and the family’s only grown since then. Fortunately, they all live in the rural town of Ada, Oklahoma, with plenty of room for the whole dog and human family. In Justin’s own words, here’s the story of Minnie and Sasha.
I previously had American pit bulls and loved them. As our son was turning three, my wife and I had talked off and on about finding another dog. We had since moved to the country and had plenty of property for dogs to run and play, so the timing was perfect. One afternoon we ran into a lady in a parking lot giving away puppies that hadn’t been off of milk for very long at all. She wasn’t certain of the breed, but knew she couldn’t keep them. We picked Minnie out of the group and brought her home.
Sasha is a bit more of an adoption. She showed up at my wife’s uncle’s house in Dallas one day. He is a huge dog-lover and took her in while he tried to locate the owner. They contacted the owner and he basically said he was done with her and to not bother bringing her home. Her shedding and getting out of his very tiny yard all the time had worn on his nerves and the excitement of having a Husky puppy was gone. I told him we would love to have her. So a few days later, I made a two-hour drive to meet them halfway to get her. Our Uncle still asks about her and likes to keep up with her on Facebook.
My favorite things about each dog is their personalities. Minnie is a Blue Pit. A breed constantly stereotyped as a bad breed or fighting dog, but she wants nothing in the world more than to cuddle up in your lap and get all the scratches and hugs that she can. She lounges around on the bed or the sofa all day and has never shown an ounce of aggression towards anything. She’s the most laid-back dog ever and truly one of my best friends.
Sasha’s personality is still an adventurer. While she is older now and not as high-strung as when she first came home, she is still very energetic. She doesn’t like laying around all day and is usually running or walking around the property looking to see if anything new is going on. She’s always down to go on a hike or walk.
Shortly after Sasha had found her place in our home, I trained her on the invisible fence that we use to keep the dogs from venturing onto neighbors property and getting into trouble. Sasha picked up on the fence location and what it meant really fast and was soon able to be trusted on her own in the yard while we were at work or away from the house. Well, unknown to us, she regularly walked the perimeter of the fence, testing it like the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. This constant vibrating and beeping of her collar made the battery run down in less than half the expected time it should.
One afternoon, I come home and she was gone. After driving around a bit looking for her, I came home and put a post up on Facebook. Shortly after, someone got in contact with me and said they found her. She was a few miles away (through the woods) at a horse ranch, lounging around watching chickens in a chicken coop. The woman at the ranch said she didn’t cause any problems and just seemed interested in watching the chickens.
I think the thing most parents worry about with dogs — or big dogs anyway — is something happening and a child getting bit somehow. Just like raising a dog the right way, you have to reinforce proper habits around dogs to your kids. You obviously teach them to be nice to the dogs, don’t do anything to a dog that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you, but you also have to go further than that. Things like not teasing them with a toy, or not messing with them while they’re eating.
Being a city dog, Sasha rarely saw much wildlife. Once she moved into the country, that all changed. Not too long after her arrival, we woke up one morning to a lifeless Opossum she had left on the porch for us. I thought it was her leaving us a present as gratitude for bringing her home. Fast forward to a few nights later, and we have another gift: A mole that she had dug up out of the ground had the unfortunate luck of meeting Sasha. The few nights later. Another. And another. And….another. This went on for quite some time.
Sasha hasn’t left a gift for us in a while now, so I think she feels like she has shown her gratitude appropriately or that she has simply made a truce with the wildlife around us. My mother-in-law says that she simply ran out of things to give us. Either way, she is a great hunter.
Minnie has always liked to ride in the jeep with me. One day I decided to bring her along on a hike I was going on with my kids Brock and Dellanie. It was a nice spring day.We went to a nearby state park and hiked to our halfway point before stopping for a picnic lunch. Shortly after lunch and starting back, I realized I was a bit overzealous by bringing the kids and Minnie on that long of a hike. By the time we finished, I had Dellanie strapped to my back with my backpack and was having to stop every few hundred yards to convince Minnie that we were almost there. They were all exhausted by the end of the day. We have since gone on shorter hikes.
Something that makes me smile is that Sasha typically stays outside, due to being adventurous and always wanting to know what’s going on and thus, wanting out. Minnie likes to stay inside because she’s become pretty lazy in her age. This has led to her sleeping in my first daughter, Dellanie’s, bed a lot since it’s lower to the ground. Hearing Dellanie talk about fighting for covers with the dog is funny. She kicks her out of bed when she has enough and Minnie is usually found in our bonus room on the couch at that point.
The kids at this point basically treat Minnie and Sasha as another sibling. They don’t really see them as much as a pet as a typical kid would. They have great fun with them.