Podcast

Raising Healthy Puppies; Raising Healthy Babies

Listen to our first podcast in partnership with Yanir Dekel of DaddySquare.com, talking about how to run a happy household for both our two-legged and four-legged children.

Dog and cat lovers! This one is for you: babies and puppies are a winning combination for cuteness, but it's a hell of a combination to keep them all happy and healthy. This week we talked to Mark Hiebert, Medical Director at VCA TLC Animal Hospital in West Hollywood, about our pet-babies, about introducing a new baby into a house with pets, and – of course – about health and safety of our babies and puppies.



Chocolate is not as toxic as you might have thought!

Veterinarian Mark Hiebert blows up the chocolate-myth and says that it's dangerous relatively to the dog's weight and would require a whole lot more than you might think to do harm!

"Chocolate is not toxic in itself much more for your pet than even for you," the veterinarian confirms. "The problem is – and the type of chocolate is very important, so let's pick milk chocolate – the toxic dose is about an ounce per pound. This means that you have to eat a certain amount before it affects you. If I ate 164 ounces of milk chocolate I would be really ill. So if you dropped a chocolate chip on the floor – don't panic. But don't wrap your solid dark chocolate bar and put it under your Christmas Tree because the dog will smell it, they'll eat the wrapper and the chocolate and they will need to come see me in the ER."

What is more concerning to veterinarians is consumption of raisins and grapes.

"Raisins and grapes were banned from my house when we had dogs," Dr. Hiebert says. "They can potentially be fatal. Even a tiny box of them for a medium-sized dog can potentially cause kidney failure. The same with grapes. Another thing that people don't know about is the sweetener Xylitol. It's in many sugarless gums; it's in a lot of sugar-free gummy bear type things. It's very safe for people and in diabetics it's a very common sweetener. Very little [for dogs] can potentially cause liver failure, low blood sugar and so forth."

The Pet Food Industry is Insane

"You've probably seen the 'grain free' symbols on dog food. It's not nutritionally driven. it's not under AFCO which is an organization that looks at nutritional quality for pets," Dr. Hiebert reveals. "It started out as an advertising gimmick by one company. They put a grain-free logo on their bag and it soon took off and now the general population believes that 'grain free' has come from somewhere [because dogs are supposedly wolves and wolves eat meat]."

"[Dogs] are no more wolves than we are our predecessors thousands of years ago. So genetically through selection, what wolves eat and what our pets eat is a little different. But there's a whole marketing ploy, I mean, the pet food industry is insane. What you feed your dog is as controversial as what religion you are."

Protecting your Kids by Protecting Your Pet

"For parents who have young children I really swear them away from [dogs'] raw diets," Dr. Hiebert says, "because of the risks to human health. The Center for Disease Control has information on it's website about feeding raw food diets to your pets because of the type of pathogens that are in the raw foods. Salmonella would be an example."

"Everybody washes their food and vegetables before they give them to the kids but they are not worried about the child going over and petting the dog. So if the pet has Salmonella in the stool and they're going in the back yard, in the grass, the environment may have Salmonella organisms. That's just one example. There are also other types of parasites that dogs and cats can get that can effect children so those would be things that I talk about with people with children. I try to address routine intestinal parasite control, flea control, things like that."

About Mark Hiebert

Dr. Hiebert's family had a menagerie of pets and farm animals in northern Canada. After the first time their veterinarian came to their farm to examine one of the cows, Dr. Hiebert decided that he wanted to become a veterinarian too. He studied veterinary medicine at Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada and has been practicing since 1990. In 2001, Dr. Hiebert joined the medical team at our hospital and shortly afterward became a partner. VCA TLC Animal Hospital has since become his home away from home.

Early in his career Dr. Hiebert started a branch of the SPCA in his hometown in northern Canada. He became involved in the BC Veterinary Association and eventually served as president for a term. He is currently licensed to practice in California.

Episode Credits:

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen

Guest: Dr. Mark Hiebert, Medical Director at VCA TLC Animal Hospital

Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here

Articles referred to in this episode:

My Son Has Two Dads. This Is What Happened When He Started Calling Every Woman He Met 'Mommy' (Fatherly)

ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

For any questions, comments or advise, please do not hesitate to contact us at hello@daddysqr.com or on Twitter @yanirdekel

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Podcast

Traveling With Kids

If you feel that after a vacation with the kids YOU need a vacation (or a short stay in a mental institution) – you're not alone!

Traveling with kids is not always easy, sometimes we want them to have so much fun that we forget to have fun ourselves. We brought on Instagram-celebrity traveler and blogger Devon Gibby to share his experience and give us some tips on traveling with kids (and also without!)

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Understanding the Legal Process of Surrogacy for Gay Men

Next up on the Daddy Squared podcast! Yan and Alex talk with a fertility lawyer, Richard Vaughn, about the legal elements of the IVF process

When thinking about having kids via surrogacy, the legal part is just as important as the IVF process itself. Making sure that the agreements with the surrogate and the egg donor are set up properly is a solid base for the whole process itself. And then there are issues like legal guardianship and birth certificates that are also crucial for finishing the process with babies that are completely, legally yours. We turned to Fertility Lawyer and gay dad Richard Vaughn of International Fertility Law Group, to set the record straight about the legal steps that must be taken when having babies through IVF.

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Podcast

The Daddy Square Guys Talk with Men Having Babies Founders

In Daddy Square's latest podcast, they shed a light on the history and work of Men Having Babies, on the conference and on the Canadian surrogacy option.

In this special episode, we flew to New York City to experience the annual Men Having Babies Conference. MHB provides unbiased surrogacy parenting advice and support for gay men worldwide. The Conference featured parenting options in the USA and Canada, in-depth panels — including on insurance, budgeting, and teen surrogacy children, and an Expo of surrogacy parenting info. In this episode we shed a light on the history and work of Men Having Babies, on the conference and on the Canadian surrogacy option.

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Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Do We Have a Biological Right to Fatherhood? Absolutely, Says This Gay Dad

Jay Bostick, a gay foster dad, responds to Kevin Saunders' controversial essay "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children"

Editor's Note: Below is an essay by Jay Bostick who eloquently lays out many of the reasons why he and many other readers were upset by a post we ran yesterday by Kevin Saunders titled, "Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children." This post clearly touched a nerve! (Check out the ongoing discussion on our Facebook page.) While some of our readers appreciated Saunders' viewpoint, many others felt slighted by his reasoning for not having children, calling him everything from "self-involved," "selfish," and an "insufferable narcissist." Many other readers rightly questioned why Gays With Kids would even run an essay from a man who does not want children on (of all place) a parenting website.

The former point is a matter of opinion, but I'll offer some clarification on the latter. We agreed to run this post for two reasons. First, Saunders' perspective is unique among many adopted gay men. We have run countless essays on this site featuring adopted gay men who, inspired by their own upbringing, decided to give back by opening up their homes to children who need them. Saunders' experience, however, led him to conscience decision not to have children, a perspective worthy of discussion particularly by anyone who has been touched by adoption in some way. Secondly, as a 52-year-old gay man, Saunders is starting to find himself alienated from many in his LGBTQ peer group for his decision not to have kids. Again, we are so much more familiar with the opposite perspective on our page: when they become parents, many gay men find themselves ostracized from the broader, childless LGBTQ community. That the inverse is also starting to become true is a testament to the increase in LGBTQ parents in the United States, and an interesting dichotomy we believed warranted further exploration.

All that said, Saunders' essay is a matter of opinion, and one our readers (nor we) certainly don't have to agree with. This is why we were thrilled to receive this "counterpoint" to Saunders's essay from Bostick. We, at least, are enjoying the respectful exchange of ideas, and hope you are as well. Give Bostick's essay a read, as well as the original, and then let us know what you think in the comments or at dads@gayswithkids.com.

--David Dodge, Managing Editor

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Adults

Why This Adopted Gay Man Will Never Have Children

Do we have a biological right to parenthood? Kevin Saunders, a childless 52-year-old gay man, says no.

Guest post written by Kevin Saunders.

Two dear friends of mine, each partnered, capable gay men of relatively sound mind and body, have recently decided to become fathers, and I could not be more unnerved. The expense, the risk, the potential for disappointment, the logistical complexity that they must navigate leave me baffled and at times enraged with the lingering question that I have, out of respect, refrained from asking, "WHY, WHY, WHY do you want to do this?!" These feelings toward what most would consider a happy occasion beg a reciprocal enquiry: "Why do you care?" The answer is rooted in a disposition and a history that has left me skeptical of the innate right to biological parenthood that many, gay or straight, seem to feel entitled to.

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Gay Dad Life

Gays WITHOUT Kids (If Just For a Day...)

Andrew Kohn explains why he decided to leave his kids at home this Pride

I'm not a monster. Yes, I saw the wagons carrying lovely toddler children waiving their flags and eating their graham crackers. The children were plentiful wearing their Pride family shirts, bejeweled in rainbow. The weather was perfect and the crowds were as prideful as ever. But my husband and I had a day where we didn't have to worry about someone else, not on the constant lookout for the next available bathroom or calming emotions because we could buy one unicorn costume and not every unicorn costume. We had a day without kids.

Yes, Pride has become commercialized. Some companies want my gay money, but others march and have a presence because one gay voice spoke up and asked why the company hasn't marched. I marched in the parade with my employer – who marched for the first time this year – because I started the conversation about why we hadn't marched before. My husband and I were present. We honored Stonewall. And praised Nina West. And we did it without carrying a bag with extra panties and a couple sippy cups.

Believe me, I get sharing the day with your children. With your family. But in my house, we live Pride every day. Two white dads caring for two black kids makes us walking billboards for equality, love, and acceptance. I don't need a day to celebrate my family with my children. We do it in the grocery store. We do it at preschool. We recognize our uniqueness and celebrate it. My children don't need a meltdown and a long walk to tell them about their history and their fathers' connection to the past.

Instead of worrying about where we would find lunch and, again, where the closest bathroom was, I saw beauty that took me by surprise – and I was able to be in the moment with it. Trans men waking boldly and bravely around only wearing only their bindings. Watching high school kids sitting in the grass, wearing crop tops and eating french fries, literally carefree looking up at the clouds. We experienced a community that was free and uninhibited, if just for one afternoon, where who you are isn't odd or something to be hidden. But rather something that is a definition of you and should be your reality 365 days a year.

I know that being gay and having kids can be overwhelming at times. We ask ourselves if we're representing our community adequately (or have we become too heteronormative?). If we have children of a different race, are we giving them the experiences they need to know who they are, as well as navigate that world with gay parents? Are we so embraced at school functions because of our contributions to community or are we a token family? And yes, I'll ask it, are we good enough for acceptance by all gay families, who as if we're single again, judge each other on wealth, looks, and status? No family is better than any other, and gay parents certainly have opportunities to be better towards one another.

Our Pride ended in a small fight while walking to the car, like all good Pride's should. But it wasn't about kids bickering, or kids getting upset they didn't get the right treat. It was about us centering ourselves in a community that isn't exactly welcoming in certain spaces to gay families other times of the year. It was about us catching up with our past while also seeing our collective future.

And the kids didn't seem to mind. They had fun with a babysitter and lived their Pride out loud when they shopped for daddy and papa gifts for Father's Day. That's our Pride. Maybe when the kids are older, and really get the meaning of Pride, we'll start marching together in solidarity. But for right now, daddies needed a little time alone to reconnect with their LGBT family. And while there may be too many beer ads and not enough voter registration tables, we celebrate visibility and love. And my husband and I had time together, reminding us of who we are, who our original family was, and how we will connect who we are now, and our children, with that family as it grows.

At the end of the day, we're all in it together. And my children will be enriched by the experience. Just not this year. This year, we fertilized our roots so that our branches can grow.

Antwon and Nate became dads through the foster care system. Nine months after becoming licensed, they received a call on a Tuesday, and two days later, their daughter moved in. "It was very quick," said Nate. "Honestly, it was more just shock and nervousness for me."

As new parents, Nate took unpaid leave for two weeks, before going back to work part-time. Antwon didn't receive any leave.

"It's definitely important to have time off to bond, but it's also important to be financially stable when you do it," said Antwon. "I don't think you should have to choose between staying financially afloat or showing your kid love... and I don't think anyone should have to make that choice."

Only 15% of dads in the U.S. have access to paid paternity leave. We want to change this.

Watch Nate and Antwon's video to find out how:

Sign the pledge: www.dovemencare.com/pledge

Like Antwon and Nate, we're helping Dove Men+Care advocate for paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads! Over the next three months, we will be sharing stories of gay dad families and their paternity leave experience. Our goal is to get 100,000 folks to sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Dove Men+Care has collected over 30,000 signatures on the Pledge for Paternity Leave in three short months, in a mission to champion and support new legislation for federally mandated paid leave laws in the U.S. With the conversation growing on Capitol Hill, Dove Men+Care will target key legislators to drive urgency behind paid paternity leave policy and provide a social proof in the form of real dad testimonials, expert research and signature support from families across the country.

Our goal is to help Dove Men+Care bring 100,000 signatures to key policymakers in Washington, D.C. for their Day of Action on the Hill, and drive urgency behind this issue.

If you believe *ALL* dads should receive paid paternity leave, sign the Paternity Leave Pledge.

Fatherhood, the gay way

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