Let me introduce you to my babies: JD and Josie. Yes, they are fur-babies, but for the past four years, they have been what I have projected my motherly instincts onto. We welcomed JD (the large lab… by large, I mean 110 pounds) in September of 2009 when he was 10 weeks old and welcomed Josie (the beagle) in November of 2010 when she was six weeks old. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve babied both of these dogs – they get expensive food and fancy collars with matching leashes, they attended doggy daycare during their first year and have somehow managed to weasel their way into our beds most nights.
Oh, how their lives are about to change. Don’t get me wrong, I am not planning on pulling the rug out from under them and making them sleep in the rain. I am, however, realistic that they will no longer be my only babies. I’ve already noticed my thinking changing.
Case in point: the beagle. Beagles are notorious for being hard to potty train, and Josie is no exception. She is almost three and we have been battling her for three years to get it through her head that our carpet is not a place to pee. In the past, when my husband would threaten to make her an outside dog, I would start crying that I couldn’t do that to her. When I was about 24 weeks, we hired a pricey dog trainer. It was going well and then all of the sudden one day she just stopped telling us that she needed to go out. For a few days, we thought “Wow, she’s really caught on!” Then my husband went into the soon-to-be baby’s room and discovered that was “her spot”. Where she would pee so we wouldn’t find it right away. That night, I turned to my husband and said “She has until August 11th to figure this out or she’s going to be a mainly outside dog.” (She can’t be a fully outside dog due to the covenant in our new development.) My husband’s jaw dropped to the floor. We’ll see if I am all talk when the baby gets here. (In the meantime, our trainer has given us a new program to follow and it seems promising.)
While I know the dogs are about to get demoted in mama’s eyes, I absolutely cannot wait to see the relationship our baby boy is going to form with both of them. Neither of our dogs are dominant dogs and we’ve had them both around kids and they both do very well with them. I feel like both of them are at good dog-ages to introduce a newborn – definitely not in the puppy stage, but still playful. God-willing, each of them still have many years of companionship left to give. Bryan and I will “talk” to the dogs (yes, we know they can’t understand us) and tell them they’re going to love the baby, especially when he starts eating solids and figures out how funny it is to feed the dogs.
We also know that as the baby gets older, we need to work with him to teach him appropriate behavior around the dogs. For instance, poking the dog in the eye might not be the best thing to do to the dog. Or, if he really wants to eat the yogurt puffs, he might want to stick to higher ground (such as his highchair) if he doesn’t want the dog to “accidently lick his hand” and knock his puffs onto the floor where they’re fair game. As the baby gets even older, having pets will be a great opportunity to teach him responsibility and that we treat animals with respect.
Even though we don’t think introducing the baby to the dogs will be a problem, we will be taking the traditional steps to ensure a smooth transition for K-9s and humans alike. We have started keeping the dogs out of the baby’s room so they don’t associate not being able to be in his room with his arrival, we’re planning on bringing home a blanket with his scent on it the day before the baby and I get home and we’ve bought a huge stash of new toys and treats for the dogs for the days immediately following his homecoming. We have also set up all of the the baby gear to see if they would try to chew on it (luckily, they are both freaked out that most of his stuff moves on it’s own and thus, leave it alone). Another tactic we are trying is to put the baby’s toys on the floor with their toys to teach them which toys are OK to chew on and which ones they have to leave alone. I don’t think I’ll ever leave either of them alone with a basket full of his toys, but if we’re in the room, they seem to have picked up on the fact that the baby’s stuff is not for them.
I said to my husband the other day that sometimes I just look at the dogs, sitting on the floor, tails wagging, just so incredibly happy to be chewing on their toy of choice and I just get happy. If my dogs can make me that happy, I can’t even fathom how happy I will be just looking at our son when he gets here in about a month.
How did it go when you had to “demote” your fur-babies?