There is no shortage of love for the phrase, “dog is man’s best friend” or memes of a dog with baby. But what about the women? What about the moms, specifically? While I don’t think he’s quite ready to be a primary caretaker, I’m finding my dog to be a huge help with the baby. Let me start with the backstory.
Dog’s Life Before Baby
Our dog Loki has always been an integral part of our family, even when it was just the three of us. We would go hiking–he would run ahead, stop, look back, and wait for us to catch up. We would play fetch at the dog park–he would never stop returning the dirt and slobber-covered tennis ball (if we hid it he would search the park until he found another one). We would cuddle up on the couch together, his head on his “dad’s” lap, his big, warm body a heater for my curled up feet. He was our big, gentle baby before we had a tiny, fragile baby.
Dog With Baby
I know it was a little hard for him when our human baby was born. In the beginning, he was no longer allowed on the couch–for fear his fur would be an allergy issue to her fresh, new skin. He could no longer play fetch in the house–for fear he would accidentally catch her with one of his big paws. But we still loved him and tried to show it as often as possible in the little ways–walks, pets, and treats. Still, I think he didn’t have much interest in this new family member. The one who often cried, smelled like poop, and pulled on his hair (we do practice “gentle” touch).
It wasn’t until recently, when she began to have more dexterity, when she could sit and stand, that he started to see her value. One day, when we were all making over her latest accomplishment and Loki was lounging in the midst of a pile of toys–his new usual–she picked up a ball. His ears perked up as he noticed the round shape of the object in her hand. She looked at the ball. He raised his head. She looked at him. His eyes shimmered in hope. She threw the ball, as far as babies throw, and it hit her foot, then rolled towards him. Without moving any other muscle, he shifted his head and snatched it. She lit up, laughing immediately. It was game on. He stood up and brought it back to her, waiting, head down, eyes on the ball. She caught on and suddenly they were kindred spirits, playing fetch for a good half our, laughter echoing throughout our home.
This gave Mommy an idea. I grabbed my laptop and got a good 30 minutes of work in while she was occupied with him. The next day, when I put her in the exersaucer as I prepared for my shower, she began her usual “Mommy, go behind that curtain and abandon me” cry (separation anxiety has kicked in) and I called Loki into the bathroom. She immediately stopped crying and they hung out for the remainder of my shower.
So even though he and I don’t have the same relationship we had when he was my one and only baby, he’s finding new ways to help me and I’m helping teach my daughter to be a friend for him. Win-win.
My Dog With Baby Duties
- Companion: Him being a buddy for baby while I shower helps with her separation anxiety.
- Fetcher: Tossing his ball builds her fine and gross motor skills and keeps them both entertained.
- Climbing Gym: This is only recommended if your dog is extremely mild-mannered and loves touch. Ours seems to consider it equivalent to a Swedish massage.
- Garbage Disposal: He catches the food she drops during BLW or baby-led weaning (she’s pretty strategic about feeding him instead of herself, lol).
- Teddy Bear: Generally she uses him as a giant pillow (again, this depends on your dog’s temperament).
Most of all, it’s been a joy watching the two of them finally bond. Up until this point, he has tolerated her, but now he seems to really look forward to sharing meals with her (much to my chagrin) and convincing her to throw his ball. His new interest in her and hers in him has helped me grab a few much needed moments for myself–even if I spend them accomplishing basic necessities like showering, loading this dishwasher, folding laundry,and checking email. Hey, I’ll take it!
How does your dog help around your house?