Raising Feisty Girls

When we got our puppy, we had a beautiful vision of our life as a family of three. Hikes, dog parks, frolicking along the trail by our house. We would take her to puppy school and train her to be The Best Dog – so friendly and welcoming!!

17868_286290712937_7754337_nThe first six months of Daisy’s life were almost that. She was inquisitive, friendly, fluffy and adorable. She loved puppy school and made new friends on her thrice-daily walks.

And then something happened and she remained deeply loyal and snuggly with us. But, us only. Her pack narrowed significantly to Frank and I, my parents, and friends she saw frequently.

Her bark became deep and she became suspicious of strangers in the park. We continued with the classes and she passed all but the barking portion.

554251_10151262307262938_1703121966_nWhen I was pregnant with Bea, Daisy became even more protective, giving a preemptive growl as we walked. When Bea was born, she wasn’tย as protective but definitely had a new mission. Her skepticism toward others increased with Elle’s arrival.

My initial response when Daisy barks at the doorbell is to apologize profusely. I want her to be friendly and loving toward everyone. But I’m realizing (especially after she made some salespeople uncomfortable enough to leave with a shortened pitch) that having a protective dog isn’t a bad thing. (Especially during tax season!)

If a dog is your first (or only) child, then the parenting lesson I’ve learned from Daisy is that I can offer lessons and skills to be socially acceptable. I can guide and discipline and parent to the best of my ability. But I also need to recognize Daisy’s innate nature. She is a dog and she is wired to protect her family. That’s what she was made to do.

I’ve grappled with how to raise strong, independent, inquisitive daughters. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far. But I’m also learning to recognize and encourage the things they love without me – the princesses and warriors and books and running. I’m learning that whatever my girls are interested in, whatever innate skills they have, my job is to encourage and cultivate and help them do it in a socially appropriate manner.

And maybe, the biggest lesson I’m learning is that we were given three feisty girls to raise. As challenging as that can be, it’s also a pretty cool adventure.

Are you a dog owner? Are your dogs your kids? How does your dog parenting style line up with your human parenting style?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to writeย without editing. Today’s prompt is “protect.”


Published by

Annie Rim

Welcome! I live in Colorado with my family and have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I reflect about life, faith, and books here on my blog.

12 thoughts on “Raising Feisty Girls”

  1. As a mom of 2 feisty girls I can relate to that. No dogs in our home because of frequent changes right now but oh do they love everyone that they come in contact with. I love your advice to pet first parents.

    1. Love moms raising feisty girls! ๐Ÿ˜‰ And, if we didn’t have Daisy before having kids, I’m not sure we’d jump on board at this stage… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I LOVE how intentional you are with your daughters, Annie. I also love that you had a certain picture in mind of how it would be with Daisy, and how you’ve learned to let her be who she’s wired to be. Not always easy to do, especially with our human kids, but oh, so important. We’re learning to do that with our boys, and to encourage them when they find a passion for something . . . even if it’s not something I wish they were passionate about. ๐Ÿ™‚

    We are not dog owners. We may be one day, we’ll see. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Letting go of what I want them to be interested in is already hard – I imagine as scope increases and opinions get stronger, it’s more and more letting go…. Your boys are about the right age for getting a dog, right? I remember my brother being about 5th grade or so when we got a dog. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. You’re a great mom friend! This is a great post. Sad we missed each other but I totally understand, over in the 54 spot this week.

  4. I don’t have a dog right now, but I have had dogs and cats in the past.
    Letting our children blossom as God has designed them to be is both challenging and a blessing. I have four children–all very different. Each one is parented a little differently as each one has different struggles, passions, and approach to life. It certainly is an adventure.

    Visiting from fmf

    1. I think that’s the biggest challenge for me – recognizing that they need different parenting. I had hopes that we figured things out the first time, surely they’d work the next time around. Or not…. I guess that’s the coolest part of the adventure, right? Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Love the analogy! We have a ‘barky’ dog and I often don’t give him much grace, though it is funny that when I explain why he barks to the kids it is always that truth that he just wants to protect his family. Great insights about learning to let go but cultivate the good and propel our kids along their own paths…

  6. You gave me a smile, Annie. I had a Daisy…Daisy the Hyena (she looked like one), otherwise known as CMOL (pronounced sea-moal, ‘Charles Manson On Leash’).

    Of indeterminate breeds, she was ultra watchful and protective, and got herself kicked out of puppy kindergarten for that. She was great with other dogs, and with family…but if she had the merest idea that someone could be a threat she’d go ape.

    Late in life she became the ‘mama dog’ to puppies who’d come to us after being abused, and was the sweetest, most caring friend they could have.

    1. I totally thought of you when I wrote this post!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Daisy has definitely mellowed as she’s gotten older (she’s 7) but is still protective. She’ll even lay between Elle and someone on the floor trying to play with her. It’s annoying but endearing.

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