‘So, when are you going to get rid of them?’. This is something I heard a lot during my pregnancy.
When I first found out I was pregnant and the excitement of it all had died down. I was asked, ‘so, when are you going to get rid of them then?’. I own two Siberian Huskies named Ruby and Demon (Demon wasn’t my choice as I wasn’t around to allow him to name him that) but I also own two cats named Cookie and Gizmo. This used to really upset me but also made me very angry. Why? Because my pets are my family. I have had family stay over with their children in the past and not once did my fur-babies ever react or even care. They hadn’t ever done anything and nor would I allow them, before or after the baby arrives.
I found myself constantly defending my poor dogs who had no idea what people were expecting me to do with them. Every day when I came home from a long shift, I was greeted by who big fluffy dogs and two cats who would whinge until they were fed, then proceeded to nest themselves near my bump for cuddles. Every time I saw members from both sides of our family, I was quizzed on my parenting and criticised for refusing them to bully me into selling my babies.
These are dogs who have never done any harm to a human being, they love me more than I can explain.
Demon and Ruby
When I realised I was sat looking at outdoor kennels, I stopped myself and thought ‘do I really need to do this?’ and from that point on I decided I should wait and see how the situation panned out, because I kept getting myself into a heap of emotions as I knew it wouldn’t be fair on them. If they had to go when my daughter came then I wouldn’t hesitate but I couldn’t judge them on a situation that they were yet to be put in.
So when the time finally came to introduce them, I was scared. ‘Have I left it too long?’ ‘Is this the right idea?’ ‘Am I a good mum?’. As per usual I opened the front door to two dogs who hadn’t seen me in two weeks, they ran out to greet me and instantly knew something was different. My husband then carried in our daughter from the car and I sat on the sofa for Ruby to do her usual ‘jump for snuggles’. My husband then sat down with our daughter and because she had a new smell, they were very interested. This panicked me and so I felt it best if I took her upstairs until I felt comfortable in my ability to parent and control the dogs.
My husband, daughter and Ruby
Throughout all this, the cats couldn’t have cared less. I had read horror stories about cats smothering babies and how cat litter could harm her. Even before she was born they’d sleep in her cot, which added to my worries. But once they knew a tiny screaming machine was in there, they wanted nothing to do with my bedroom or the house in general.
Ruby is a rescue dog who gets anxious like I do, we have a set routine in the day and night. When it came to bedtime before Phoebe was born she would sleep on my bed but we knew at some point it would be time train her not to climb into our bed, this is something in which I felt bad for. I had nine months to teach her that the floor was now her bed instead of our comfy foam bed, this is nine months I had wasted because I felt sorry for her. I bed-share with my daughter, this is something I thought was going to be hard due to the dogs and I thought how awful of a person I was but over time, this didn’t become an issue.
Time went on and the excitement of a newborn worn off on the dogs. I was able to put her on the floor without worrying that one of them would sit on her or eat her. We are now almost 6 months old and my dogs are perfect. They’ve been like this since she was three to four weeks old, occasionally I have to tell the dogs not to near her face but that is only because they want to lick whatever she has eaten.
Demon, Phoebe and Ruby
I am so glad I waited, but most of all, trusted my instincts and my dogs.
A quick guide to introducing your pets that I did:
- Before having the baby, wash all the clothes in the same stuff you wash your clothing with. This may mean changing your usual detergent to something sensitive or non bio.
- When the baby is born and your husband leaves for your first night in hospital alone, ask him to take somethings home that the baby has worn. This usually means it’s covered in puke or poop, but if you’re lucky to get a clean item home then you’re winning.
- When arriving home, go in first. Feed your animals if they haven’t had their dinner yet and give them a fuss, they will know something is different.
- After this, bring in your partner with the baby. Make sure that she is high up so nothing can tip the car seat or hurt her.
- When bringing her out do not be afraid of your pets going in for a sniff, after all this is new to them too as well as you. But be SURE to read your animals body language and expressions. If you feel they may get over boisterous or possibly aggressive then simply stand up and walk away, each day let them see the baby and the more and more so you can build a tolerance then a friendship.
- Do not allow any of your pets to sleep in your room for the first week or so, until you are confident they will not jump or knock over the baby in the Moses basket. Make it aware to them that they jump up or play around the baby’s sleeping area. If you are happy that your fur-baby is not interested then do what you feel comfortable for you and the baby.
- Remind your partner to help out by walking them to burn any energy or just letting them out once in a while for some fresh air and a minute or two away from the screaming.
- Finally, remember they love you. They are every bit as scared and new to this as you are, you know your animals better than anyone.