I’m a dog mommy to Levi and Dylan. My fur babies have outfits, go out with us, snuggle on the couch, sleep in our bed, and so on. I’ve even paid hundreds of dollars over the years to fly home from trips early, because I miss them. I cried in Paris, in Paris!, because I saw a Yorkie that looked like Levi. When I was pregnant there were a lot of emotions around how our pups would adapt to our daughter. To quote Kristen Bell,
"I just don't know how I'm going to like her as much as I like the dogs,'"
..."Because I f-king love my dogs; they are my children."
Everyone reassured me I would love Henley significantly more than my dogs and that I may even want to consider giving my dogs away. Not only did I not believe them, but to me it wasn’t an option to give up our dogs. They are part of the family.
Nineteen months later we have a daughter that loves our dogs, all dogs, squirrels, fish, birds, anything living that’s not a human is called “Bubba”. So how did we get there?
- We recognized there were safety concerns. We’d seen our dogs be jealous of each other. So we observed our dogs around our niece and nephew. Levi was great until they wanted me not him. Dylan would nip at their ankles to “herd” them. We noted that Levi would need dedicated alone time with me and that Dylan needed additional training.
- We took Dylan to training as we were still trying to get pregnant. We started Levi + Mommy walks and still do!
- Once I was pregnant, we prepared them the way you would any sibling. We talked to them each day about Henley. As my stomach grew I would lay each one on top of my tummy so they could feel her kick. Dylan absolutely loved this and started to lay on my belly at will.
- We brought home two baby hats from the hospital for each dog to have in their beds before we brought Henley home.
- We introduced her to the dogs when she came home and we never left them alone with her.
- We met with Corner Vet (a holistic vet). He prescribed Dylan a green tea pill for calming and an emergency stash of puppy Xanax. This medicine helped Dylan calm down and we weaned him off after 2 months.
- We talked to Henley about the dogs. We showed her how to pet them. We would say things like “We love our sister” to the dogs and “We love our puppies” to Henley. I also credit my 12-week maternity leave + our co-sleeping arrangement for helping them feel close.
- I try to work from home a few times a month when Henley is at daycare so it’s just me and the boys!
We continue to treat Henley, Levi, and Dylan as individuals. They get individual attention as well as praise when they do good things. We also let each of them know when they are wrong. For example, if Dylan takes Henley’s breakfast from her he’s in trouble, but if Henley throws it on the floor she’s in trouble. (Trouble = A 90-second time-out behind the couch for Hen and 5-minutes for Dylan in his crate.)
Lastly, my love for Henley is different than my love for my fur babies as well as my love for my husband. It’s hard to truly compare them, but she is my #1. I have a whole new level of empathy for the families that have made the decision to remove dogs from their homes after having a child, but...
I hope this little blurb provided some helpful hints + confidence that you can make it work between your baby and your fur babies 🐶