Pets Vs. Babies

Bringing home a new puppy will probably upset your dog. Bringing home a new baby will probably turn your pets’ entire world upside down.

My husband and I decided that we were going to cross both of these life altering events just over a year apart… our poor dogs never saw it coming.

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We brought Bean home at the end of February of 2016. She came from a reputable breeder, where her parents lived happily at a beautiful and large farmhouse(we can get into adoption vs. ethical breeding practices later, but this is just a little FYI). This did not amuse our then 2 1/2 year old Brittany, Buddha.

Bean was adorable, and this made it easy to forgive her many monstrosities(speaking for myself, not my husband or Buddha). She chewed on every kind of cord, and quite frankly I’m amazed she never electrocuted herself. The other thing she preferred to chew on was Buddha’s tail, being that hers was docked, therefore she didn’t have one of her own. When she chewed through my husband’s Bose headphones, I’m amazed that she lived to grow into an adult dog.

Buddha endured Bean’s menacing presence, as well as no longer being an only dog-child, and as Bean got older, found himself a new best friend to play with all the time. He learned to share his space on the bed with Bean, and she quickly bit and burrowed her way into a permanent place into all of our hearts as one of the family.

Then in late summer of 2016, we found out that we would be adding another pup to our pack, except that pup would be a human.

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Not a whole lot changed when we found out that I was pregnant… at first. The first sign of it was the increased nausea and sensitivity to smell, that lasted from week 6 of the pregnancy, all the way through the fifth month. I had about four weeks of reprieve from this, until entering the third trimester, in which my nausea was back full blast, accompanied by back pain, overactive bladder, fatigue, etc.

This changed my relationship with our pets only in that I was slightly less active around them, and that I was not the one cleaning up their messes or dealing with their poops on walks due to the sensitivity to smell. Bean and I continued to snuggle together, but Buddha and I developed a semi-adverse relationship.

Buddha lacked the spatial awareness it took to be a little more sensitive to the life growing in my belly. Where Bean is a smaller dog, and she seemed acutely aware of our baby’s presence, Buddha is much bigger, and had a problem with stepping or jumping right onto my abdomen.

Now, I have to say that all research seems to show that it would take a great deal of impact for any damage to occur to the baby, but Buddha’s weight on his legs and paws pressing down onto my belly was still very painful, and worrying, regardless. He was relegated to sleeping on the couch or in the living room, and was not allowed to lay by me or in any place where he might be tempted to jump or walk over me.

Looking back, now it seems as if this was perhaps the beginning of the end…

We got through Christmas with the pups, January, then February. Life was pretty normal, except for Buddha’s exile from the bedroom. At least he still had a couch and a place in the house’s common areas. Then in the early morning of February 27th, 2017, that all changed.

I went into labor, and my mother in law grabbed Buddha, while my mom took care of Bean. When we came home with baby two days later, the dogs had both been moved into the garage. This new arrangement was only meant to be temporary, until I was recovered enough to deal with the dogs, and baby wasn’t as fragile.

It has been almost 18 weeks, and our dogs still basically live in our garage.

In the beginning, the intent was for the dogs to rejoin us in the first few weeks of baby’s life, once we were sure that there could be little damage done by our excited dogs. Then, in the weeks when our baby was what we considered large enough, he developed both his startle(moro) reflex, and a heightened sensitivity to sound.

Our house, with its paper thin walls and its relatively small distance from room to room, made it nearly impossible for our baby to sleep with the dogs inside. Our son is a baby who not only requires his 16 hours of sleep a day, but loves it. He does not function without this sleep, or rather… he functions very poorly, very angrily, without it.

Of course, our dogs lives have changed not only in their new accommodations, but their lifestyles as well.

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Our dogs were very spoiled in every aspect of their lives, from the food and treats they got(all dog stuff, but the best we could find for them), to the bed space they shared with us, to riding shotgun with us on our many travels.

Now, because of baby, they obviously cannot be left to jump, bark, and run around freely in our vehicles as we travel. We learned very quickly that they had no problem jumping on and into our son’s car seat with abandon. So, when they are able to travel with us, they are on short leashes, where they cannot reach the baby’s car seat.

Friends, who also just happened to welcome their first child into the world this past year, commented about how much pets, especially dogs, must hate babies. To some degree, I think they’re right.

It’s a slow process, but we are finally transitioning our dogs back into our lives, with our son.

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My hope is that our son will grow up with these dogs as his guardians and companions, his first friends so to speak. We’ve been letting them in for a few times a day to just be around the baby, but with a few new rules in place:

  1. They are not allowed on the furniture anymore, as the fur and dander is especially difficult to clean up and we’re not sure yet how that will impact our son in the case of any allergies
  2. They are never left unattended with the baby(no-brainer) so are always supervised
  3. They are no longer allowed in the separate bedrooms, where they cannot be seen, regardless if baby is in that room or not
  4. As soon as baby is ready for a nap, they are back in the garage as not to wake him with their barking or fighting

So far, Buddha has sniffed the baby, but doesn’t seem overly fond of him. I was hoping he would be more excited about having a tiny human to play with, but thus far seems to want to keep his distance. He had this problem with Bean, adjusting to not being the center of attention any longer that is. In time, he will get over it, but jealousy is a real trait with this one.

Bean on the other hand quite likes the baby, and will lay with him, lick him, and poke at him with her nose. I think she’s excited about the prospect of a new friend, but she does get a little bored with him, as there’s a limited range of interaction that he is able to provide for her. What’s interesting is that as he was growing in my belly, she seemed to be able to sense him, often licking my stomach, and snuggling her head against it. I’m interested to see how their bond grows as both of them get a little older.

Our pets used to be the apples of our eyes, but our world has found a new center now. My hope is that he becomes a new center for them as well.

This baby shook up our lives quite a bit, and it took awhile for even us as his human parents to adjust. We know that it’s been a whirlwind for our dogs as well.

Still it seems like there’s hope for everyone to be happy at the end of the day, with some time. Our friends were probably right in their observation that dogs must hate babies, at least at first. We’re hoping that at the end of it all, we can have our pets with baby, more so than having them feel as if it’s a “versus baby” situation.

With Love,

Millenial Mother

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