Seattle's Child

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small dogs and kids

Zia, Amon and Pax with their pets. (Not pictured: Lilyani.) (Photo by Joshua Huston)

Family Pet Contest finalist: Cuddling through COVID

Two little dogs help these little kids get through long pandemic days.

Emily Christie was washing dishes when she noticed her West Seattle house, normally buzzing with the sounds of four young children, had become just a little too quiet. 

She looked around and realized she didn’t have eyes on her youngest, 23-month-old Lilyani, so she started to search.

She eventually found her inside the storage room, in a position that in recent months had become all too familiar – cuddling with their one-and-a-half-year-old dog, Daisy. In this case, they were scrunched together in a small plastic container on top of a collection of Rice Krispies Treats.

“I think they’re kind of like two peas in a pod. That’s what it seems like,” says Christie. “They seem to have some sort of connection.”

The family adopted Daisy, along with her sister, Rosie – both Chihuahua, pug and miniature pinscher mixes – back in October 2019.

Christie said her husband had long wanted to bring a dog into the family, but she wasn’t convinced it was a good plan. Growing up, her experience with pets only extended as far as owning a goldfish, and now that she had children of her own, the furthest the couple had delved into the pet arena was having a pair of hermit crabs.

But then she heard that her sister-in-law’s dog was pregnant, so the family decided now was the time. Christie said they opted to adopt two dogs because she didn’t want them to be lonely.

It seems they couldn’t have made the decision at a better time.

Less than six months later, the COVID-19 pandemic had hit. As a result, the family has had to remain largely homebound, with Zia, 7, and Amon, 5, learning remotely since March. 

In the midst of all of this upheaval, Christie says, the dogs have provided a nice, consistent outlet for the children. 

“I was so happy that we got the dogs because it’s just an extra, you know, playmate for the kids when they’re tired of each other,” she says. “And dogs, as most people know, don’t offend you as much as maybe your sibling might. So it’s always a positive experience.”

Amon explains that he likes to give belly rubs to both dogs, while Pax, 4, says he enjoys playing fetch with them “because they like sticks.”

The dogs have very distinct personalities, according to Zia. While Rosie is “cuddly,” she says, Daisy is “playful, not much of a stay-in-one-place dog unless it’s her crate.”

As the oldest, Zia helps take care of the dogs by letting them out in the morning, feeding them, and even bathing them and cutting their nails. When she goes upstairs for virtual second grade, she brings Rosie along, holding the little dog in her lap as she listens to her teacher. 

Christie said the dog seems to make Zia feel more confident and secure, especially when she’s sharing during class.

“I think she feels kind of proud, too,” says Christie. “You can tell she has this pride that she has this thing that she’s taking care of. And it’s, like, sort of her thing. And she’s doing a good job.”

Asked how the dogs make her feel, Zia pauses for a half-second, then beams as she says a single word: “Happy!”

Editor’s note: Congratulations to the winner, finalists and honorable mentions of our second Family Pet Contest! We put out a call for family pet photos and stories early in 2021, and are delighted to see such a lively mix of canines, felines, lizards and birds out there among our readers! 

More pet news

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Family Pet Contest winner: An Everett mother and son raise two caiques while fostering other birds in need

About the Author

Hallie Golden

Hallie Golden is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. When she's not writing, she's out running with her German Shepherd puppy named Wally.