I thought for sure my dog and my son would be instant BFF’s. Like something out of a children’s picture book, “The Adventures of Bruce and Luke” would be a friendship fairy-tale that would last a (dog’s) lifetime. In reality, it’s been more family drama than fairy-tale. While its apparent that our dog understands that Lucas is a precious part of the family, it’s even clearer that he could do without him. Bruce was (and arguably still is) a pampered pooch, eating the best raw food Toronto has to offer and going on adventurous nature walks with his dog pack. But his perfect world came crumbling down when Lucas burst onto the scene. All the visitors were here to “pet the baby” and Bruce wasn’t used to being cast aside. People were afraid that he would hurt Lucas, so they would push him off the couch. He (sadly) was getting yelled at a lot more frequently, and because I am on mat leave, the pack walks started to reduce in frequency. He was visibly distraught.
Before Lucas’ arrival, we read a ton on the subject of preparing dog for baby. We put out the baby’s stuff early, like his swing and his pack and play. We pre-washed his clothes and then let Bruce smell them, and we even sent a onesie home from the hospital so that Bruce could get used to the baby’s scent. But none of it actually worked. He was still a ball of anxiety when we finally brought Lucas through the door. We figured that over time, Bruce would become less jealous/anxious and more protective/friendly, but it’s been almost three months and Bruce will still spend most of his day trying to steal the attention away from the newest family member.
So, what’s a dog mom to do when she becomes a mom to the real deal? I’m working on deciphering my dogs needs as well as I can decode my sons cries. I’m doing my best to pet him with one hand while I feed Lucas with the other, to throw his ball for him during tummy time, to more gently redirect him away from Luke’s toys and towards his own, to be forward enough to tell my guests to stop pushing him away from the baby, and to spend real quality time with him once my son has gone to sleep for the evening. He’s still moping around a bit, and sleeping a lot, but I do catch him checking on the baby more frequently, and even gently licking his feet, so there’s hope yet.
When I posted about this on a mom forum, I was met with “get rid of the dog” replies, which both shocked and saddened me. Pet’s are not disposable, and it’s a pet owners responsibility to ease the dog into the transition. There are tons of great resources out there to help guide parent/pet owners as they help their dogs adjust to the changing environment. I hope that someday very soon the two of them will develop an irreplaceable relationship, but I have to be patient and understanding with Bruce while he takes it at his own pace. And for now, we’ll have to put a pin in the publishing rights to their fairy-tale friendship.