The following is a beautiful post from Pets I’ve Met user and long-time friend, Brianna. Brianna is a Midwest transplant from California. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she’s spending time with her boys: husband Ryan, son Cal, and fur son Marshall.
Aside from the litany of traditional items you’ve crossed off your To-Do list in anticipation of your baby’s arrival, you even took great lengths to prepare your beloved pup for his new role of ‘big brother.’ You let him investigate every outfit or toy, familiarized him with the smells of the nursery, played recordings of babies crying, you did everything you came across on the internet to ease the transition for your growing family. You love your dog fiercely, he’s your fur child after all. But have you emotionally prepared for the ‘dog days’ of bringing home baby?
Things started off smoothly when we introduced our newborn Cal to Marshall. We had our parents waiting at our home with Marshall before we arrived from the hospital, they had already loaded him up with love and attention. We pulled in the driveway and my husband brought Marshall outside so they could meet in a ‘neutral location’ (like I mentioned, we read up on this extensively!). Marshall was excited, but gentle. Cal was, well, a potato because he was only three days old.
While the first week was personally a bit of a blur, I do remember that with so many visitors in our home Marshall was receiving a lot of love. My husband also did a great job trying to maintain the same routine from before baby. I cherished some dog cuddles in the late hours after a feeding, and still love our middle of the night time together when walking to and from the nursery.
It was about four weeks in that we noticed Marshall acting morose. He didn’t lash out or misbehave, he just seemed generally bummed out about life. He started having accidents in the house. By then most of the visitors were gone, and Marshall was no longer going to ‘school’ with my husband because the college was out for the summer. I remember being very aware of Marshall needing more attention, but also being so overwhelmed I didn’t have much more of myself to offer.
When I look back on that period (about weeks 4-12), I now refer to them as the ‘dog days’ for our family. To get through them, we relied on our support system to help us with both our babies. We went on long family walks and let Marshall relish in all the attention he’d receive from our neighbors, my in-laws rose to the occasion and focused on Marshall whenever they’d visit and he definitely received more treats in those days. I feel guilty about not personally filling Marshall’s emotional bucket, but also give myself grace for just surviving that time in our lives.
While it’s important to prepare your dog for the arrival of your child, I think it’s equally important to become comfortable with the idea of him feeling ‘off’ for a little while.This is an incredible adjustment he needs to go through, and as the pet parent you need to acknowledge this adjustment. He’ll recover, and you’ll find yourself more available for him eventually. Just remember that he’s your baby too, and deserves a little extra love and attention during this transition (it just doesn’t need to come only from you). Before you know it, that baby will start to become more aware and active, and they’ll become better acquainted with each other. And by the time you start feeding that baby in a high chair? Well, your dog won’t even remember resenting his new best friend.
Do you have any tips for soon-to-be human parents? Let us know in the comments or send us an email!