Now that I – and the other human in this equation (hi, husband!) have had a few months to process what’s going on and anticipate what awaits us as I approach 20 weeks pregnant, I can’t help but think about how this big change is going to impact our other family member.
For those of you who know my sweet Mikey, you know the amount of love he has to give, but also the amount of love he *insists* on receiving from everyone around him. He will scoop your hand with his nose to get you to pet him, and mope when you’re focused on something other than him. I take full responsibility for this charming-yet-annoying trait of his, and it is what, for better or worse, has kept us a one-dog household. Even though I have wanted a second furry friend for a while now, and assumed we’d get one as soon as we bought our house, I’m always left wondering how my spoiled little guy would do when forced to share the attention all the time. He does well with other dogs, just not when they’re in his space. And even then, he isn’t mean or aggressive, but grows concerned about his toys and doesn’t seem interested in sharing them or the attention.
That brings me, obviously, to our current situation, and how our lives will be so very different by the springtime. I worry about Mikey – not because I think he will do anything dangerous (though we will take the necessary precautions in introducing him to the baby), but because of how he’ll adjust. You can’t warn a dog that change is coming; unlike us, they can’t prepare, they can’t take time to wrap their brain around it, they can’t do research, and they can’t plan accordingly. One day, things will just be different for him and that will be that.
All I can do now, and what we’ve started doing, is actively including him in things and telling him that he’s “helping.” Again, if you’ve met Mikey, you know how smart he is – he has a very real understanding of what it means to “help” and he loves knowing he’s involved. We do it primarily with taking the trash out, telling him it’s time to help, and letting him come outside with us. It’s a routine. My plan is to do this with more mundane household tasks over the next few months and then with baby-related things, letting him come in the nursery with me and making him feel a part of it all.
Let me wrap up by saying: I know there are more important issues at hand in our world than whether or not my dog will feel neglected when I have a baby, but for now, this is my reality and it’s something that’s been on my mind. Parents with babies and pets: how did this process go for you, and what tips do you have for us?