My dogs were my babies before Eloise. I might have been a bit crazy, but that’s just between us. I had a hoodie sweatshirt for my first-born, a 15-pound Pomeranian mix. Many of our family vacations revolved around pet-friendly accommodations at the beach. You get the picture. However, as soon as my baby bump started to show, fellow dog-lovers-turned-parents began with the warnings.
Your dogs won’t be your babies anymore, they’ll be dogs. You won’t have time for them. They won’t matter like they used to.
My husband and I were convinced others were wrong, but we tried to prepare ourselves anyway. We kicked them out of our bed, (yes, not only do I sleep with babies, I also sleep with dogs…). We got them used to their crates again. We changed their pain-in-the-butt raw food diet to one that included bags and cans.
Then Eloise came along and people were right, for a few months. When we first got home from the hospital I was a seething beast ready to break their necks if they harmed her. The intensity of my emotions even scared me. I didn’t trust them, which was the correct approach, but still, break their necks? In those first months, the poor creatures were reduced to minimal attention and only the occasional walk.
Despite my lack of trust, I still loved them, but I could hardly take care of myself and this new human we brought home with us. It didn’t help that Odin took it upon himself to protect me and the baby by growling at company and that Simon would not even come near me, (he must have known I was a little unstable…). Fortunately, it all got better.
As Eloise became sturdier, I let them get a little closer, guard still up. It helped that she has loved them from the moment she could process their existence. Now, they are a consistent source of smiles, babble, and giggles in our household. Every morning starts with a sit on the floor and a wagging greeting from her furry friends. When grandma babysits, Odin is often a way to stop the fussing. We let her pet the dogs with her feet and an occasional well-guarded hand. They often lie next to her on the floor.
I know you can’t ever fully trust an animal with a child, but we are to the point where I don’t think about harming my beloved doggies anymore. We keep a close eye when they are near the baby and remove them if their body language is less than relaxed. I have a feeling as more children are added to the family, dogs get forgotten more and more, but the good news is our family pack is tighter than I expected.
The dogs may get a little less attention and a skipped walk here and there, but we still love them and they’re coming around to loving our growing family just as much. The best part, the part I did not think about before baby was born, is how much joy Eloise takes from their existence. I have a feeling the three of them are going to be great friends. Thank goodness.