Parenting Guru: A daddy's Thanksgiving message to the family dogs

An open letter of thanks to a couple of hairy superheros

Dear Max and Milo,

You guys might be surprised to be getting this little letter from me this Thanksgiving, but let's be honest: it's long overdue.

Man oh man, I still remember the afternoon that Mama and me brought Violet home from the hospital like it was yesterday, and not almost four years ago.

Do you fellas recall it?

For two black labs each pushing 80 pounds, I was ecstatic at how well you handled her arrival in our small house. To be honest, I knew you were both gentle giants and all, but still. I knew that you were both a couple of easy-to-please 'bizarre foodies' who rarely retreated from any chance to take a curious nibble of anything from dead birds to thorny lizards to other dog's poo.

So I admit that I was just a wee bit concerned that a soft baby foot might appear a bit too delectable to resist for at least one of you birds.

But man was I wrong.

Withing nanoseconds of me placing her car seat on the ground in front of you that first day, Teeny Violet opened her eyes to take you in and you guys sniffed her gently but thoroughly, imbibing her sweet baby smell, drinking in this living breathing mystery unlike anything you had ever seen before.

I was nervous, jittery, trying to calm you both with easy-does-it talk.

And then.... you dingbats covered her with a tidal wave of sloppy kisses. It was amazing; we were delighted and relieved. You both made it so easy for Mama and me.

Life with Violet was pretty good for all of us. We still managed to hike and stuff; you both got all of the exercise you needed. But then, before long, young Henry arrived in our lives.

That's when stuff started to get tough, huh?

I mean, you both shared the same kind of simple loving welcome with our son as you did with our daughter, so there was no problems from your end; I want you to know that I know that. But, almost immediately, Mama and me found ourselves in deep with two kids. Two was a lot different than one. We learned that pretty fast, and unfortunately, so did you guys.

Our days of hiking together were pretty much shot in the foot. It was just too hard for whichever adult was watching the kiddos to manage two very young children and two super-charged labs at the same time. Your days of massive exercise waned. You were relegated to some light Frisbee action in the yard.

I knew it wasn't enough, really, but what could I do?

I felt so bad. But you never complained. Never ever ever.

Instead, you two knuckleheads kept me company on the days when I was trying to navigate the crazy waters of managing a screaming bambino and a crying toddler. So many times I'd notice one of you looking up at me when the house was full of the sound of kids breaking down, and in your sparkling eyes I read the message loud and clear.

"Be cool, dude," you were telling me. "Don't forget that you're doing your best. And just don't lose your wits."

It meant a lot to me.

More than you will ever know, to have you around.

And even to this day, as our human lives have continued to become busier and more complicated with the kid's constant needs and all, I still catch you out of the corner of my eye sometimes and realize that you are asking me to let you out for a pee in your subtle dignified way.

You don't really wanna bother me, but, well, nature is calling.



I just want you to know that I love you both. We all do. Your gentle ways and your willingness to suck it up and let Violet and Henry come first will never ever be lost on me or your mama. So, this Thanksgiving, and from here on out, I will try my damndest be here for you, my brothers, a little more than I have been this last year or two.

More walks. More Frisbee. More hugs and rubdowns.

And more dark meat from the turkey, starting this year, starting this Thanksgiving.



Serge Bielanko is proud to be a Shine Parenting Guru. He can also be found writing all about the ups/downs/joys/and blues of being a dad at