Amy Kirk Ranchwife's Slant

These days it seems like the channel for an older couple to have any grandchildren involves having to go through a training period where you first become dog grandparents. Seeing how you fare at grandparenting your children’s dogs has become somewhat of a prerequisite to having grandchildren.

Our son recently got a 2 year old red healer for companionship and to help with ranch work. It was adoption at first sight for Angus and Myles. You could say Angus is a special needs dog. He is deaf and had been raised in an animal shelter as a puppy until our son adopted him.

The first time I met Angus I was asked to babysit. We had introductions to get acquainted before he was left with me and our dog child Walter. Myles had a lot of hesitation before he left, and he discussed what I should do once he walked out the door. He had several suggestions for me in handling the dog as though I’d never experienced this as a parent. Angus had become so attached to Myles in just a few weeks that he never leaves his master’s side, let alone allows him out of his sight. It had been reported on a different occasion by another babysitter to Myles that his Angus dog boy freaks out for a little bit when left behind. I couldn’t help but chuckle over the separation anxiety issues I witnessed my son and his dog both going through. The parting was a familiar parenting moment.

Watching my son struggle with leaving his dog was the same feeling I felt about leaving him with a sitter when he was little. When I became a mother for the first time and had to leave our son with someone else I had the exact same uncertainties about leaving.

With the dog, I found the whole situation comical. Watching my son worry was seeing a new side of him and something I didn’t expect. He gave me specific instructions to call him if there were any problems and to also call in a little while to let him know how it went after he left.

When he finally departed – just like what happens with many babies, tots and kids – Angus had a brief moment of panic over where Myles was going without him. It lasted until he was out of sight. Then Angus settled down with Walter, his dog buddy who was having him stay for a sleep over. Like a typical parent, after an hour when Myles didn’t hear from me he called to check in.

Everyone did just fine, got along alright and had a good time once I was finally left in charge. The only time I got nervous was letting them out at night. Angus couldn’t hear me calling them back to the house, and since it was dark, I couldn’t see him either. It took several tries of getting Walter to bring Angus back with him, then a little more convincing get Angus to follow his friend back in the house. To prove to my son I’m not an incompetent dog grandparent, I just do what my kids used to do to me: not tell them.

Amy Kirk and her husband run a fourth-generation cow-calf

operation near Pringle, S.D. Email her at amy@amykirk.com, or visit her website at www.amykirk.com.

Columnist

Amy Kirk and her husband run a fourth-generation cow-calf operation near Pringle, S.D.