Meet Chloe – adopted from K-9 Lifesavers – my beloved 4-year-old Shepherd-Hound mix (although in a previous blog post, I revealed that her DNA test had mixed results) and inspiration for joining the Petfinder team. Picked up from the side of the road as a puppy, she is now living the good life: three walks a day, trips to the dog park, playtime at doggie daycare, and food and treats galore. And she ends every day curled up in bed with my husband and me. She truly is the luckiest pet.
When I was pregnant with my first child last year, I received a lot of unsolicited advice from family, friends and even strangers. One comment I heard over and over again was that Chloe would become “just a dog” once the baby arrived. I couldn’t fathom how this was a possibility – no matter how much I knew I would love my baby boy, it didn’t make any sense to me that Chloe would become any less of a family member.
My husband and I took all the recommended steps to prepare Chloe for the baby’s arrival: playing sounds of crying babies, walking her with a stroller, and letting her smell the baby’s blanket from the hospital before we brought him home. When it finally came time for the two of them to meet in person, Chloe, although apprehensive at first, developed a protective instinct for baby Stephen – even making the extra effort to come over to nudge me with her nose when my “puppy” was crying and in need of attention.
So – is Chloe now “just a dog” to me? I can’t deny that my relationship with her has changed, because adding a newborn to the family certainly hasn’t increased my free time. However every day I’m so thankful for Chloe’s soothing presence – whether it’s curling up by my feet during 2am feedings, or simply keeping me company on the floor during playtime – that I can’t help but look at her as “big sister Chloe” rather than “Chloe the just a dog.” We try hard to make sure she is still receiving the same level of enrichment as when she was an only “child” – it just means now my husband has stepped up to take over extra walk shifts or time at the dog park while I nurse baby Stephen. And we find ways to incorporate both of the “kids” in our daily activities, like taking them both on a hike, or trick-or-treating together on Halloween. While Chloe is not happy that Stephen won’t share his Sophie the Giraffe squeaky rubber teething toy with her, I know they will become fast friends when he is old enough to drop food on the floor under his high chair.
I’m glad I didn’t listen to all the advice I received about Chloe’s future family member status. It’s clear to me now that there is room in my heart for both kinds of “children”. Now I just have to be careful not to try to get squirmy 5-month-old Stephen to sit and stay with a firm command and hand signal.
Below is my favorite photo of my two “kids”. Has the addition of a baby impacted your relationship with your pets? Let me know that I’m not alone in the comments!