Bringing home a newborn can be overwhelming. You are suddenly entrusted with keeping this baby alive. I almost wanted to look around as if to say are you sure I am qualified to do this? At 3 AM, you feel incredibly unqualified to handle anything. And then you add in the dogs.
How do you maintain your routine with the baby and dogs?
The dogs that are used to being the center of attention and constantly snuggled on.
You are faced with questions: should you wash your hands after petting the dog?
How do you introduce the baby to the dogs? Should you let your dog lick the baby? Are the dogs going to get jealous?
The dogs knew something was different about this "dog" we brought home. I've never seen them act as they did, pawing and jumping at the windows with howls of anticipation. They looked to us for any noise the baby made for reassurance that it was okay. I'll never forget them checking on the crying baby and whimpering with her. After a bit of research before bringing home the dog without fur, we had a plan for introducing the fur babies to their newest sibling. We started with a receiving blanket that she had been wrapped in, allowing each of them time to smell the new baby smells. I am not sure what it is about babies, but dogs sure do go just as crazy over that particular smell. Next, we leashed each of them and slowly and calmly introduced her sisters one by one, allowing them the opportunity to sniff the newborn. We did not allow for kisses at this point from a hygienic standpoint. After each of them was steadily introduced, we let them inside while the baby remained in the high enough bassinet that they could not give her kisses.
One of my fondest memories was Chili whining when the baby cried in the bassinet and Athena wanting to sit as close as possible to us the first night we brought her home. While I would never leave them unsupervised with the baby, it warmed my heart to see how protective they already were with their baby sister.
The few several weeks were a daze. To add to the difficulties of having a newborn, our middle "child" has problems seeing. This posed a challenge when leaving the nursery late at night. Avoiding as much light as possible to correct the newborn day/night confusion; I initially would not have any lights. This led to Chili barking at me when I would leave the nursery. A terrific solution to this was a lamp near the kennel; it wasn't bright enough to disturb the baby and gave our silly Chili willy reassurance that it was just us.
Teamwork always makes the dream work. While my job was feeding the baby since we were exclusively breastfeeding, my husband took on the extra work for the dogs. He ensured they had food and water. However, when we arrived home, it was a goal of mine to spend time with the dogs to reduce their feeling neglected. 9/10 if a dog lacks attention, much like children, they will find a way, i.e., usually something destructive. Because the activity is limited, one of my favorite light workouts and bonding was family walks with the husband, baby, and dogs. We started off light and short and built up to longer walks. This is a fun family bonding experience. Once Rose hit a month, we felt confident enough in our ability to harangue both the dogs and the infant, and we started revisiting the lake. This was an excellent way to spend time with the dogs and family.
Since we have already worked with the dogs to remain outside the spare bedrooms, we continued this with the nursery. If they entered the nursery, we corrected their behavior promptly. This helped maintain less hair and ensure the baby's toys remained separate from the dogs, providing a separate safe space for the baby.
I am sure as the pack ages, new challenges will always arise. As for now, life with the baby and the dogs has become an incredible adventure.
Looking forward to more adventures,
The Pawsitive Writer