Lots of people ask me how Teapot and dog get along when they see us all together, especially since the dog was here first.
Teapot’s dad and I did some reading about how to prepare your dog for a baby’s arrival while I was still pregnant. But the most we did, really, was to have my mother-in-law bring the dog a blanket that the baby had been wrapped in and have her sniff and play with it. When we finally got home, the dog was obviously confused by the screaming, crying thing we’d brought with us. We could almost see her thinking: “Soon the real owners of that tiny fussing dog will show up. Right? Right?”
Sometimes we’d come home and Teapot would be asleep in the stroller. When we let the dog out of her crate, we could see her elation: “Oh happy day! You left the tiny fussing dog on the side of the road somewhere!” And then Teapot would wake up and the dog would be visibly disappointed.
I had read too many stories of dogs mauling babies, dogs that had never, ever shown a sign of previous aggression, to be completely comfortable with allowing our dog too close to Teapot as a newborn. Sniff, but don’t lick. But don’t sniff too long or too close. Or sniff Teapot’s face. Or hands. Or anything, for that matter. But soon, my trust in the dog started to grow after one particular incident.
Teapot’s dad had put Teapot in her bassinet on the floor and stepped away for a mere moment. Suddenly, the dog came chasing after him, wagging her tail, ears pricked. Something was amiss. What’s that? Timmy is stuck in a well? Again? The dog ran back to the bassinet with Teapot’s dad in tow and peered over the brim, and Teapot’s dad looked down. Teapot had spat up all over herself; she was a milky mess. And the dog had known that something wasn’t right, and had come to get one of us.
We also noticed that the dog wouldn’t run away when Teapot started her nightly crying spells. Rather, she would come with us to Teapot’s room and lie under the chair while we tried to soothe Teapot, helping in her own way. When Teapot is crying in her crib, the dog will run with us into Teapot’s room. She will stand up on her hind legs with her front paws between the crib bars and push her snout between the bars, sniffing and licking.
Nowadays, Teapot notices the dog. I think it’s love. She smiles when the dog vocalizes her special greeting of “arrrooooooo!” and likes to pet and grab her fur. The dog takes it all in stride, licking Teapot’s hands and ears and feet and head and face and mouth and then scuttling away when she’s had enough of Teapot’s flailing antics.
Teapot’s dad and I hope that they’ll grow up happy together. We envision sending them off to play in the park and having both return all dirty and smiles. And then we’ll throw them into the bath together, only to have them do it all again tomorrow.
What about all you dog and baby owners out there? Which came first? How does your dog get along with your baby, and what did you do to help your dog adjust?