While Shiva and I are enjoy a long-anticipated vacation, some of our fellow bloggers kindly agreed to pinch-write for us. Heather Kalinowski is the proud mom to two fur-kids, an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson, and her baby boy, born in August. Heather spends her days writing about pets for Trupanion pet insurance and her nights playing fetch and cleaning spit up.
I considered myself a mom long before I had my baby boy. I was a mom to two fantastic dogs and they really were my ‘kids’. I took them everywhere, fed them well, bought them presents, took care of them when they were sick – you know, everything you do for your kids.
You would not believe how many people just expected, or encouraged, me to give up my dogs when I found out I was pregnant. Of course the idea to me was ludicrous, but to them it felt like I was endangering my baby by exposing him to my dogs. I received so many un-supportive comments and heard so many horror stories, that I retreated to the internet to try to find families who had positive experiences.
Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I found so many other new parents who felt the same way I did about my dogs and who made the transition seamlessly. I took any advice they could give to heart. We made sure to allow my dogs to sniff me during each stage of my pregnancy so they could understand the changes in their own way. We encouraged them to explore the baby’s room and all the new furniture when we got it set up. And we invited friends who had children over to expose the dogs to the new smells and sounds.
But what was most interesting to me was how the dogs started training themselves for the new arrival. My little dog, Ava, is my sweet lap dog. She was constantly attached to my hip. But as I got more and more
pregnant, she realized that things were changing and she started hanging out more with my husband, something she never did before. She would choose to cuddle up next to him on the couch since my lap was disappearing and there wasn’t as much room for her anymore. She would sleep on my husband’s side of the bed because my hormones were causing my body to overheat and I was too hot to cuddle next to anymore. It made me sad but I also knew it was best for our new situation.
When we brought our baby home I walked in first with a blanket the baby had been swaddled in at the hospital. I made sure to give them some attention and let them smell the blanket. Later, my husband walked in with the car seat. The dogs immediately ran up to the car seat to sniff it. My husband sat the car seat on the floor and we sat down with the dogs. We allowed them to sniff at the baby, but not touch him. And they did just that. They were curious, but with a few quick sniffs, they were satisfied and just wanted to celebrate the fact that we were home.
Since then, the dogs have continued to have interest in the baby, but never in an aggressive way. We always allow them to sniff him when we have him on our lap or are changing him on the floor. Because we have never made that big of deal out of their interactions with him, they have learned that it’s not a big deal and nothing to get worked up over. We know we’ll have to do another round of close supervision once the baby becomes mobile and starts being able to grab handfuls of fur… but we’ll take each new stage as it comes and continue toward our goal of a happy, well-adjusted family of five.