I'm not saying rush out and buy a puppy, far from it.
Such an animal is a very serious commitment and if little one is tiny and often poorly then the extra hassle and hygiene worries would have tipped me over the edge. Wee and poo accidents on the floor near a crawling toddler would make me shudder. Finding time to train and walk and play with a new pet amidst hospital appointments and stays would have caused additional stress.
BUT, we are in a good place now (touch wood), the heart surgery is over, the appointments are few and far between. Natty knows not to eat a tail or a poo. So we took the plunge into puppydom.
I have observed the most unexpected upside to have Pippin in our house. Natty is no longer the youngest, smallest member. She can no longer grab most of the attention by means fair or foul. The dog has been a learning curve for her, at first nervous, now able to feed and pick him up, even attaching his lead today. I caught her carrying him to his toilet, saying "do poo poo here Pippin." Now she is the teacher.
Something has switched on in Nattys head. Another leap has been made. And suddenly she is conversing differently, full sentences are flowing. Tonight she used her knife and fork perfectly, bedtime was easier. It's as if she now feels more grown up because we have a new 'baby' in the house.