Co-Parenting Joey: A Canine Story

“Can you watch Joey next week?” my brother asked about his new Maltipoo. “We’re going on vacation but we can’t really bring a dog along. We thought you’d be perfect, but I understand if you don’t want to with Daisy gone.”

We had lost our beloved Goldendoodle of 13 years in March at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was heartbroken over her unexpected death and wrote about it on my blog. Daisy was like a family member and I told myself I wouldn’t get another dog for a long time, if ever.

Now, five months later, here was a chance to have a cute little puppy around but not have all the responsibility. I thought it was a great idea, and my daughter who was going to college online from home was thrilled to have a furry friend. My husband also welcomed the change since he’s been working from his home office since March. He grew up with dogs and loved them. We agreed to dog sit.

For the next eight days, this tiny eight pound, three month-old Maltipoo turned our COVID blues upside down. Joey kept us smiling and laughing while he lapped our faces with wet kisses, climbed on our heads as we sat on the couch to watch TV and danced with us on his hind legs. He snuggled up next to me while I worked on my book, just as Daisy used to do. I took him for walks around the neighborhood with his short little legs sprinting and leading the way. We shared funny pictures and videos with my brother’s family, who live an hour away. Joey entertained us all day long and we went to bed tired but happy. We hated to see him go so much that we arranged for another visit, this time at our request.


Joey came back a couple of weeks later around Labor Day. He already seemed bigger and had different habits. He was teething so he was biting more and had “accidents” in the house. My brother’s family called them “dookies,” so we adopted the playful term. We followed Joey’s regular schedule and took him out at 6:30 am, fed him twice a day, and played fetch in the backyard for exercise.

I was reminded how much caring for a dog is like caring for a child. When Joey lets out a deep breath before settling down for a nap, I remember our children doing the same thing when they were babies around Joey’s size. In fact, when I hold Joey over my shoulder and rub his back, I recall soothing my own kids. If Joey starts eating rocks or chewing on slippers, he gets a scolding. After losing a tooth, I put it in a ziplock bag and write his name and date on it. It brings back fond memories of being a parent of young children again.

Saying goodbye to Joey again after ten days was hard, especially because we didn’t make definite plans for the next visit.

A few days later, I got another call from my brother.

“You know, Joey seems to do well at both of our houses. We are open to the idea of sharing him. We can be the primary parent and take care of his vet appointments and food. How do you feel about that?” my brother said in a cheery voice.


“Well, I was actually just going to call you and say the same thing. We adore Joey. Let’s try it and see how it goes.” My husband and I still wanted to go on vacations spontaneously and we didn’t want the commitment of raising a dog full-time. Co-parenting seemed like a good compromise.

“We’re putting our house on the market in a few weeks so it would actually help us a lot if you could take him again soon.” My brother’s family was moving locally and had to get their house ready for sale.

So Joey is here with us for the third time in two months and we are loving it. As co-parents, my brother’s family and mine now chat about Joey like he’s “ours.”

Oh Joey

“What do you think of his new haircut?” “Is he barking too much?” “How are his dookies?”  “He needs his flea medicine today.” My brother, sister-in-law and I talk almost every day and see each other more than ever because of Joey. We have grown closer together as families.

Dog-sharing can be a pure joy and I would recommend trying it. It’s a relatively new idea, but I could see it growing for good reason. There are many benefits and few drawbacks. Our co-parenting arrangement has evolved and will continue to change to meet Joey’s needs as he grows. It’s been good for the dog, and good for us.

These have been trying times, but our college-age daughter being home and the arrival of Joey have been pleasant surprises. Co-parenting Joey has filled a void in my life that has been present since we lost Daisy. It’s like the unexpected joy of having your young adult child back home again, even after being an empty nester. You learn that if you open your heart to new possibilities, anything is possible.

Joey and Rosa

What do you think about canine co-parenting? Can you see yourself doing it?  Leave a comment below.



  1. Ann Lee October 14, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I’m so glad you and Ken got to an arrangement where you get to see him more. ♡ And I loved reading Circe. She’s a great writer. Here other one on Achilles (titles slipping me) is really good too!

    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 7:13 am

      So true! Sometimes it takes a dog to bring families together. The book you’re thinking of is Song of Achilles, which I haven’t read yet but I will. Madeline Miller is a beautiful writer and a wonderful speaker too. So inspirational!

  2. Jennifer Townsend October 14, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    What a sweet story that opened my mind about possibly co-parenting a dog. So helpful and nice to hear stories of joy in this pandemic. Thank you Rosa, and that picture of Joey in the dishwasher is just too cute.

    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 7:11 am

      I’m glad this story has opened your eyes to the idea of co-parenting a dog. As you read, it’s great!

  3. Nikki October 15, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Rosa, I am so happy for you! We connected when you wrote your story about how hard it was for you to lose Daisy. Now, you have Joey! Dogs have so much love and to have two families love them rather than just one is priceless! Recently, we had to leave our girl with our dog-sitter when we took our son to college, as we knew that she would enjoy Carolyn’s house, hikes and doggie socials. When my son tried to FaceTime with her, she barked at hearing his voice, but didn’t recognize his picture on the screen. This prompted me to ask Carolyn if she thought that Stella missed her human brother. She told me that since she has me and my husband to care for her, she doesn’t miss him as a human would, although she would be excited to see him when he comes home. She did say that dogs who only have one owner who died might miss that person, but she commented that Stella has lots of people who love her and it’s true! In addition to us, she has many of our friends and neighbors in our community who love her. All that she or any dog wants and needs is love! Sounds like Joey has a lot of love! Congratulations!!!

    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 7:09 am

      Nikki I love that story. Dogs have an infinite capacity to love. The more people your dog Stella loves, the less sad she will feel if she loses one of them. I never thought of it that way but it makes sense. Joey has been so great for our family, my brother’s family, our friends, neighbors, and even my neighbor’s dogs, so why not spread the love? I still miss Daisy but I know she would love Joey as a younger brother. Thanks for your good wishes!

  4. Teri October 15, 2020 at 11:18 am


    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 6:53 am

      Hi Teri, Being an author of a book written from a dog’s point of view, In the Doghouse, I appreciate your heart emojis. Thanks for reading this and your unwavering support of my writing!

  5. Debbie October 15, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Hi Rosa!
    I’m so happy to read this and understand your perspective on co-parenting our Joey. I was calling it “dog-share” but I like co-parenting much better! When Joey first arrived, I felt so overwhelmed. I didn’t know if I could handle another “baby” in the house. Thank you for all your support and advice. We loved seeing Daisy grow up and it was so sad that she passed in March, right before quarantine. So many of my friends were adopting dogs while you were saying goodbye to Daisy. I read your blog about her again and made me tear. I know people who wouldn’t adopt a dog again because saying good-bye was too hard, like losing a child.
    But here we are. I’m excited that we can share the parenting duties since you have so much more experience. I’m so glad that we have been seeing each other much more often because of Joey. We will be empty nesters soon too. Maybe we can all go on vacation with Joey in the future!

    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 6:48 am

      Hi Deb,

      Thank you so much for the chance to love Joey. He has been such a blessing and an absolute joy. If you hadn’t been so open to co-parenting, I wouldn’t have written this story. Dog sharing is really a fabulous new concept that works well in the right situation. As one of my readers said, Joey gets double the love!

      See you at pick up/drop off! And yes, let’s all vacation with Joey together. He would love all the attention. BTW, who keeps his baby teeth?

  6. Peggy winterrowd October 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Hi, Our 2 year old Goldendoodle “Ruffles”
    loves having Joey as a neighbor and playmate.
    We’re delighted Joey has arrived. It’s a hoot
    watching them jump, run and play. I’m so happy Rosa and her brother have decided to co-parent.
    We’re all having fun.
    Great idea! 👌🐶

    • Rosa October 16, 2020 at 10:41 pm

      It’s great that Joey and Ruffles are neighbors and playmates. It was so funny to see Joey escape our yard and dig his way into yours this morning. He must really like you guys, as do we!

  7. Anne Severns October 16, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Rosa,
    It was so fun to hear about Joey and the advantages of co-parenting a dog. I laughed as I visualized him eating rocks…does he really do that? So cute! We have a dog, but I will definitely keep canine co-parenting in mind for the future. Thank you for sharing!

    • Rosa October 17, 2020 at 3:31 am

      Yes Joey chews on little pebbles but since I find them around maybe he doesn’t actually swallow them! I never thought about the advantages of co-parenting either until this just kind of happened. I think it’s more common when there’s a breakup in a relationship but sharing the responsibilities as well as the joys from the get go could be a good option! Good to hear from you!

  8. Deb R. October 16, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    I love it! I had never thought of co-parenting a poochie (although I guess we used to do that when we raised guide dog puppies ‘back in the day’). Joey is such a cutie, I can see why he inspired this great idea. We may have to set up a play date with my not-quite-as-cute but pretty sweet old man poo-chon.


    • Rosa October 17, 2020 at 3:35 am

      Joey would love a play date or a walk with your sweet old man. Let’s plan one soon. I didn’t know about canine co-parenting before either so I’m making it up as I go. A friend says she knows four families that are doing it!

  9. Bettina October 17, 2020 at 12:36 am

    Rosa, thank you for sharing another great story. “Dog sharing” is such a great idea especially as empty nesters. It’s the best of both worlds.
    I always enjoy reading your blog 😊

    • Rosa October 17, 2020 at 3:39 am

      Thanks Bettina! We must have dogs on the brain per our recent texts. I would highly recommend “dog sharing.” It’s been a wonderful gift!

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