Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How do you manage 3 dogs and an infant?

We have worked in rescue long enough to know that dogs are put in shelters for the same reasons over and over again:

1. We’re having a baby/ We had a baby and we don’t have TIME for the dog anymore
2. We’re moving and CAN’T bring the dog with us
3. We’re jerks… (okay, not a real reason, but that is how I interpret all the reasons).

I was a little worried about what our dogs would do once Eliza was born because they’re so used to being our focus and getting lots of walks. We decided to be proactive about the animals and start the baby preparation early. We didn’t have to do much because our girls are pretty well behaved, but we did take some pretty important steps

1. We waited until the dogs were a little older to have kids. Pokey is 5 ½ and Slappy will be 8 in August. Sassy is 13, going on 14, and very docile. Puppies are a lot of work, we know this. We worked hard with our two puppies to get them to become the dogs they are today, and they’re wonderful, sweet, mindful and happy.

2. We started the baby transition before the baby arrived. We started sleeping with no dogs in the bed with us, they weren’t thrilled, but by the time Eliza came around, the dogs were so used to having their own bedroom, that they didn’t even bother trying to steal my pillow.

3. We changed their walk routine. Before, the dogs were often taken to the park with long flexi-leads that gave them a lot of freedom to run and misbehave. We also took them to off-leash parks where they were allowed to go a little crazy. We knew that the dogs were not going to be able to do the things they had done previously, so we shortened their leashes and started making them trot next to us. This took a lot of work, but I did it while I was pregnant, and it helped me get my daily walk in. Slappy is very headstrong, and was very resistant to change, but eventually got the hang of it, and we started to enjoy our walks again. We also started walking them in areas with lots of dogs and people. Our dogs are generally good with other dogs and people, but the occasional freaky greyhound (we have a pack in our neighborhood) can freak a leashed dog out, so we got them around other dogs and people and started making it fun. This way, they won’t react when we encounter dogs while the baby is strapped to my chest. First walk

4. SOFT NEW BEDS… enough said!

5. Lots of toys, chewies and treats that don’t resemble baby toys. I did catch Pokey with one of Eliza’s little toys, and she knew she was in trouble. So far, they have been wonderful. I am still worried about Sophie the giraffe though… that thing has “dog toy” written all over it!

6. Once the baby arrived, I make sure to get up every single morning and walk into the dogs room and give them each a good cuddle. They also get to cuddle with me while Mark holds Eliza and one more good cuddle before bed. I also pet them often. I don’t worry about dog hair getting on Eliza.

7. Don’t be freaky parents… let your dog interact with your baby. Slappy LOVES Eliza. Every once in a while Ill catch Pokey give E a little smooch on the leg. Even when Slappy gets a little overzealous with her kissing, we tell her “enough, good girl” and pet her. No scolding around the baby. All of their interactions with E have been positive.DSC00528

8. In your bed! Best thing we ever taught Slappy. I can say “get in your bed” and she will run to her bed and sit down. It’s good for times when I need to walk out of the room for a minute and E is in her swing, or if we’re eating and Eliza is on the couch next to us. This takes a lot of work, but dear god, it’s worth it!

9. Dog days- My dogs get dog days. Slappy Saturday, Weasel Wednesdays… When we have time, or we reserve a weekend day or weeknight, we treat the dogs. This past weekend we took our first family road trip to the lake for some dog swimming! Don’t let the idea of having two dogs and a baby overwhelm you, or it will! We always include them in walks, or if we go get ice cream. Sheesh, sometime they get to go in the car just to drop something off. IMG_0026 IMG_0037

Like Mark and I like to say- we all had to give up something to bring Eliza home. The dogs are no exception. They gave up walks, attention and sleeping in our bed. We gave up sleep, money and sleeping alone in our bed. Eliza gave up a lot too, and we’re all proud to be happy little family. Being a family is hard work, but it’s not hard enough to warrant giving up part of the family. My assumption is that if you give up your dog because you think it will make your life easier… you’re sorely mistaken. You need to make some changes within you, and then your life will improve. Until then, you can get rid of everything you want, but you will still be overwhelmed.

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