LAKEVIEW — When Alicia Obando left political life to work at The Anti-Cruelty Society, she saw a lot of families returning adopted dogs to the shelter.
"You see families bringing in their dogs, crying because they couldn't afford it," Obando said. "Or the kids want a dog, not realizing all that it entails, and six months down the line, the family can't handle it, and the poor dog goes back to the shelter."
Seeing the broken-hearted families pushed her to create a nonprofit, Pets Are Like Family, which helps coordinate crisis foster care, a pet supplies pantry and care for people with limited resources.
But Obando, who lives in Belmont Cragin, wanted to get out in front of the problem and help families integrate the right dog into their household with better success.
So in late 2015 she opened her own business, Pitter Patter Parenting. Through the service, Obando offers help to families in selecting a new pet, safety classes for children and grief counseling for those bereaving the loss of an animal.
On Sunday, she'll host a workshop in Lakeview for expectant parents on how to make the addition to the family easier for dogs and how to help all your babies — furry and otherwise — get along.
Alicia Obando works with children on recognizing a dog's warning signs. [Provided/Alicia Obando]
"I think it's something that people think of too late and don't put much preparation into," Obando said. "Lots of times, people don't realize, especially if it's their first baby, all the changes and stress that are coming."
Dogs could have a hard time adjusting to a change in their schedule, noisy baby equipment or rearranging to make room for the new family member, Obando said. Her workshop at Dogaholics, 3608 N. Southport Ave., will include tips on how to ease dogs into the family's new patterns before bringing babies home and how to recognize when a dog is feeling uncomfortable or stressed.
In worst-case scenarios, "the bite doesn't come out of nowhere," Obando said. "There are all kinds of warning signs, but you don't always know what to look for or how to prevent those situations from happening."
Obando, 52, got her start as a licensed family and child therapist before gravitating toward politics. After working for the CTA, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, she was chief-of-staff for Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) for four years.
But in 2007, she switched paths and began her work with animals. After four years as the specialty coordinator at the Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, Obando struck out on her own.
Pitter Patter Parenting was "my way of bringing my two passions together," Obando said. "I always wanted to open my own business, and now I'm helping families and helping pets."
Her 3 p.m. class Sunday is $20 per person or $30 for a couple. Call 773-549-9000 or email email@example.com to register.
Pitter Patter Parenting also offers home visits for help in selecting the best pet for a family's lifestyle, integrating it into the family safely, pet care and safety classes.
And now, because it's Friday and we all probably need it, here are a bunch of dogs and babies getting along:
[All photos Shutterstock]