Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#40)

Happy first Wednesday of the month!

This week, I officially went on maternity leave.  (A big THANK YOU to all my clients who have been understanding and flexible about this change!)  Only a few days in and I’m feeling a wide arrange of emotions.  At the beginning of the week, I was feeling just plain sad.  The dogs I hang out with every day truly feel like my friends.   Not only am I sad that I’m not seeing them every day – the thought of not seeing them for 3 or 4 more months is heartbreaking.

Today, the word I would most use to describe my emotional state is frustrated.  I don’t know if I decided to take a leave of absence at the perfect time – or if my body was just holding on until I gave it a break…but this week even the slightest task feels like a major chore.  Bending down to fill the dogs’ bowls for their dinner leaves me breathless and sore.  Walking laundry from the dryer to the bed for folding feels like running a marathon with 20 lb dumbbells.  With a to do list as long as my arm…frustrated about sums it up.  I’m use to walking miles and miles through the elements with energetic dogs!  How can a quick trip to Walmart exhaust me??

The one thing I’m doing a lot of is reading…reading every baby book I can get my hands on!  Surprisingly, many of these books center on the same principles as the dog training books I’ve read.  More on that later…  (In the meantime, check out my own new parent advice here!)

…now it’s time for cute dog pics!  These shots definitely cheered me up…hope they put a smile on your face today and help you get through the rest of your week!

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I wish everyone who had an irrational hatred of pit bulls could meet this sweetie pie!

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…and you said dogs don’t smile!

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When you look up “puppy dog eyes” in the dictionary…

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Just found out you’re pregnant? Step #1: Get another dog…

…while it might sound crazy, that is exactly what my husband and I did.  Days after that positive pregnancy test, it was off to the Houston SPCA to pick up our four-legged bundle of joy, Amigo.

Sound crazy??  Well, just wait and listen to my logic –

Our first pup Buffy has never been an overly needy pet, but she had been an only child her entire life.  Inevitably, she got use to being the center of attention.  We weren’t constantly entertaining her by any means, but much of our time was spent playing with, talking too, loving on our sweet girl.

What is the first thing all the articles/books/literature tell you to do when you are trying to prepare your pets for a new baby?  Give them less attention.  Get them use to not being the center of your world.  Let them become more independent.  I can tell you right now, folks….this just wasn’t ever going to happen.  (And not just for Buffy’s sake either…I got a dog for selfish reasons.  I need that canine affection!)  So instead of attempting to ween Buffy off play and love….why not find someone else to play and love with her?  GENIUS!

Enter Amigo!  (Now do you see where we got his name?  We adopted him to be Buffy’s friend!)

We hurried to find Buffy’s companion before any drastic baby changes (nursery prep, changes in my schedule, etc) in an attempt to make his adjustmentIMG_1388 our top priority.   (Let me also state here – Pablo and I always knew we would be a multi-dog family.  Getting a second dog was something we had been considering for a long time – and was not a rushed decision.  Getting a pet – whether your first or your fifth – should NEVER be a decision you rush into or take lightly.)  Now, with our Baby Boy’s arrival almost exactly a month away, nothing makes me happier to see Buffy & Amigo off in their own little world.  Open the blinds – and they will sit side by side watching the neighborhood.  Let them out in the backyard – they will bark at birds or play chase until they drop.  Always interested in the same toy (typical siblings!) – they won’t fight over it, but instead will watch the other chew on it…and then switch.  I find such comfort in knowing that if I’m off taking care of Baby Boy in the other room…Buffy will not feel abandoned or neglected.

While Buffy has never been the kind of pup to get jealous (I think a lot of this has to do with me taking her to work with me.  She sees me loving on and playing with other dogs all the time, and never becomes possessive), I think Amigo has also helped her adjust to my husband and I being affectionate towards another living thing.  She has seen that we can introduce a new child to the house…and our love for her will not diminish.  She will still get tummy rubs and treats – she just doesn’t get ALL the tummy rubs and treats!

As I constantly mention in this blog and to my clients – Buffy is so go-with-the-flow, I’m not sure why I ever worried about her adjusting in the first place.

Now I just have to worry about how to prepare myself for the change!

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Amigo is quite taken with my GIANT belly!

Book Review: Child-Proofing Your Dog by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson

I am a firm believer in books.  What can’t be learned from a trip to a bookstore or library?!  While there are a multitude of pregnancy/baby books out there… and probably almost as many dog books…I was surprised to find very little published on preparing dogs for babies.  And when I say “very little”, I mean literally one book.

Childproofing Your DogSome Googling and a few searches on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble’s website led me to Child-Proofing your Dog: A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Child in Your Life by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson.  The title sounded perfect!  This had to be exactly what I was looking for!

Overall, though, this book was a disappointment.  That’s not to say that I would recommend expectant parents to read it (only a short 88 pages, so you wouldn’t be wasting much of your time); it’s just that most of the information was more common sense than the expert advice I was expecting.  There were, however, a few very insightful hints and suggestions sprinkled in…along with a few points that I completely disagree with.

The underlying theme of the book was spot on – most of the problems that you have with your dog (baby or not) are simply a result of misunderstanding and miscommunication.   Kilcommons and Wilson do a wonderful job of explaining a growl.  “A growl is due largely to confusion…”  and does not mean your dog wants to harm your child.  It probably means that crazy kid is doing something that your dog hasn’t seen you do and can’t quite make sense of it.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a Cujo on your hands.

Another point that they repeat over and over, throughout the book, in almost every chapter (which I think is a point worth repeating!) is you should Dog and BabyNEVER leave a dog along with a baby/child.  It doesn’t matter how wonderfully fabulous your dog is or how angelic your perfect child is…things happen.  (Not necessarily bites!) Do not…even for 5 seconds…go in the other room and leave a baby and a dog alone.  Just don’t do it!  Just don’t!

Now, the biggest issue I have with this book is how it discusses getting rid of your dog (this topic is actually brought up multiple times) and euthanizing your dog if he or she is not getting along with your bundle of joy.  Do I believe that in the HISTORY of ALL dogs and babies there has NEVER been a dog so aggressive that they cannot live around children?  Of course I don’t!  But I DO believe that these instances are so unbelievably rare it is not worth mentioning (again, MULTIPLE TIMES) in an 88 page book for the general public.  The fact that putting a dog down is even touched upon is ludicrous.

That being said…there were some “Wow!  I never even though of that!” moments that I had while reading the book.  Once I read them, they seemed like such common sense, but I honestly hadn’t thought of them before.  Expectant parents too busy to read this whole book – consider this the Cliff’s Notes:

  • Never play aggressive games – Luckily, this has always been a rule in my house!  Never ever EVER play tug-of-war or wrestling games with a dog.  (In general, you never want them to think they can challenge you physically.)  When you need to take something out of a dog’s mouth, you don’t want them to pull at it and think you are trying to have fun.  (Anyone who has tried to retrieve a favorite sock out of their dog’s mouth can attest to that!)  You never want a dog to mistake a child’s hug or rough handling is an attempt to start a wrestling match.
  • Do not call the baby a nickname you have assigned your dog – I had honestly never thought of this one!  My husband and I have taken to calling Amigo “baby boy.”  “Oh, our little baby boy!” we will coo when he is doing something especially adorable.  Well, the book warns, don’t be surprised if you are cooing “My little baby boy!” over your new son and your dog jumps right in.  The pup thought you were calling him!
  • Watch the toys you buy – My husband and I recently cracked up when registering at Target – they had a baby toy that looks EXACTLY like the “Buffy ball”.  We of course realized that we wouldn’t be putting that toy on our wish list.  Kilcommons and Wilson also suggest a “which toy is yours?” game where you place dog and baby toys side by side on the floor…and give praise and treats when your pups brings you the correct toy when asked.  So simple…but genius!
  • Be a baby yourself – From what I hear, kids and babies are pretty loud and unpredictable.  I’m pretty sure they don’t even know the proper way to pet a dog!  Of course, teaching your toddler to be respectful and gentle with animals will be your responsibility, but until they understand all that your poor pooch (just like you!) is going to have to learn to live with some unpleasant feelings and sounds.  So, go ahead and practice pokes, ear pulls, hugs, loud noises, etc.  (of course without hurting the dog!  Remember, baby isn’t going to have much muscle behind all those motions.)  Always let your dog retreat (whether practicing or when baby is home.)  Never force interaction between 2-legged and 4-legged child…you don’t want your dog to ever feel trapped.

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Overall, Childproofing You Dog reminds us our dogs have the instincts of an animal…but the personalities of one of us crazy humans.  You’ve had 9 months to mentally prepare yourself, but their world is going to be turned upside down when you walk in with your new child.  Maybe Kilcommons and Wilson have the right idea about oversimplifying things and relying on common sense – all you really need to do is put yourself in their shoes paws.

If you have any other suggested reading on the subject of preparing dogs for the arrival of a new baby…please share!