After baby arrives, all your attention is focused on that little being who needs you so much! Especially in those first few months, it feels like there’s little time for anything other than feeding and changing and rocking and playing, and then collapsing in bed. And if you’ve got a four-legged “baby”—a cat or dog or other pet who’s used to being #1 in the house, chances are your pet has her feelings a little hurt. But you can still be a good mom to your new baby without forgetting about your old, furry baby.
Long before I became a mother, I was a devoted pet owner. One thing that always dismayed me was when I would hear women say, “After I had my baby, my dog was ‘just a dog’”. How could they say that? I’d think to myself. I couldn’t imagine loving my dogs any less because I had a baby. And, guess what? Now that I’m a mom, I love my dog, Daisy, every bit as much as I did before. Still, it’s hard to find time to spoil Daisy in the manner to which she was accustomed before Baby Naomi came along. But we try, and I hope she knows we still love her.
Daisy, my husband Paolo and I all lived in a one-room apartment while we renovated our house prior to Naomi’s arrival. Paolo and Daisy would share the couch, a beat-up hand-me-down that we had no intention of taking with us when we moved. If I wanted a spot on the couch, I’d have to ask both of them—dog and husband—to make room for me, which they’d do begrudgingly.
We moved into our new home two days after our baby was born. Poor Daisy. Her world was rocked, and not in a good way. The first order of business: no dogs on the brand new couch. She’d stare at us and whine, and make her saddest face. But a Doberman/Greyhound mix on a new, upholstered sofa is not a recipe for couch longevity.
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Then there was this baby. Naomi got all of my attention. Gone were the long walks with Daisy, and our roughhousing play sessions on the living room floor. We’d shush her if she barked while Naomi was sleeping. We let her sniff the baby so that she’d get comfortable with her, but Daisy wanted nothing to do with this interloper. Naomi had crashed Daisy’s party, and Daisy was miffed.
But slowly, we’ve all adjusted to life with baby and dog. Once Naomi started walking and eating solid foods, Daisy seemed to be more at ease with her. We taught Naomi how to pet Daisy nicely, instead of slapping her or trying to put her finger in her eye or nose, which was her first instinct. If Daisy gets annoyed with the baby, she just gets up and leaves. Plus, she’s also figured out that when it’s Naomi’s feeding time, chances are high that something tasty will fall to the floor, or that she’ll get the leftover baby food Naomi didn’t eat. Hey, she’s a dog. She’s not picky.
When the weather is nice, I take Naomi for a walk in her stroller, and Daisy happily joins us. Each evening, either Paolo or I try to take at least a few minutes to give Daisy some love and attention. Naomi joins in too; in fact, Daisy is the only one in the house Naomi will kiss!
Still, there’s no denying that Daisy is no longer top dog. But she’s adjusted to her role, and she does seem safe in the knowledge that she’s still loved, even if she doesn’t get as much of our time as she did before. And every once in awhile, we move over and let her join the three of us on the new couch.