When Jake and I went public with our pregnancy, nothing went quite like we expected. One of the most shocking issues was the number of people who asked when we were going to get rid of our dogs. Some offered to take them for us (thanks I guess…?) but many felt we should just drop them off at any shelter and acted like it was a foregone conclusion.
Anyone who knows us knows that was never on the table. I have -very- strong feelings about animal abandonment and would never even consider throwing aside our puppies. Bender has been with us since he was 8 weeks old, River was somewhere between six and twelve (her litter was so malnourished that no one was sure). They are great, well trained dogs who love us unconditionally and have complete trust in us. Anyone who could look into those big, happy eyes and decide to send them to a shelter just isn’t human in my opinion.
There was an adjustment period. Before the baby was ever born, we started researching ways to introduce them to the concept of the baby and found a website called Love and a Six Foot Leash. It’s an amazing website for Pit Bull parents and while it’s not currently being updated, it’s still well archived. The author chronicled her experiences in prepping her dogs for a baby, and it was amazingly helpful. The first big part for us was allowing the dogs in the room but only in a designated area. I put a puppy bed in there, and that became “their spot”. If they wanted to be in the room, it had to be on the bed. Forbidding the room would have just made it tantalizing and I’d have constantly been dealing with them sneaking in or whining at the door. By making it alright with boundaries in place, everyone is happy. Bender loves to lay down and take a nap when the baby does, River tends to pop in at night and sleep for a few hours (I suspect because we use a space heater in there so it’s much warmer than any other room in the house).
We always knew we wanted the dogs off the furniture when the baby came but we’d been allowing them on the couches we had since we’d bought them. That, in combination with buying inexpensive couches from American Furniture Warehouse, broke the couches down pretty quickly so we decided the best thing to do would be just replace them and not allow them on the new furniture. They both seem scared of the leather couch, and we replaced the other with recliners (it’s awesome to have my own chair and not be fighting Jake for it). To make up for it, we’ve covered any out of the way area we have in soft pillows and beds, so they’re still very comfortable and we haven’t really had any issues.
I realized that people would be put off that we have a Pit Bull and a German Shepherd and a baby. I did a lot of reading, a lot of discussion with friends who were trainers, etc, and decided to give them a “trial run” using my friends kids. It was pretty simple: Friends with kids would come over and I’d hold them in my lap, then wait to see what the dogs did.
The dogs were on leashes, no one was being set up as a possible chew toy.
Invariably, River would give them a quick lick, then go off to her corner to not be near children and Bender would try to LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Licks, snuggles, tail wags that could bruise your shins, ah, the excitement. After about 15 minutes he’d settle down and move on to what he was doing… and that was the end of it.
When we brought Seth home, the dogs were calm, gentle, and well behaved. There was no posturing of any kind and they slept in his room under the crib that night.
Sometimes it is exhausting to basically have three kids who want attention and have alternating late night pee schedules but overall, it’s been pretty painless. And I’m dealing with about 190 pounds of dog between the two of them. I can’t help but roll my eyes at people who “tearfully” have to re-home their dogs because they just can’t give the animal enough attention.
Yes. You can. You just don’t want to. I get it. Taking care of a baby is exhausting and the last damn thing I want to do most days is throw a ball or take these beasts on a walk, but it’s the promise I made when I got them. I didn’t say, “I’ll love you until we have a kid at which point you’re going to be a burden” and I didn’t say, “I’ll dote on you until it’s not convenient for me anymore”. I promised to bring them home and make them members of my family. Do they get a little less attention than they did before? Absolutely. Am I less patient than I was when they were younger? Probably. But we find a way and we make time and we make room.
Believe me, watching my dogs and my son become best friends have been some of the most beautiful moments of my life. To know he’s going to grow up loving and respecting animals the way we do makes me incredibly happy.