2 parents. 1 dog. 1 baby on the way.
In approximately 7 weeks, our first born child will arrive into our lives and will be showered with love in the process. I say that he’s our first child – but in fact we’re technically already parents to our one and only dog. He’s our baby and is used to being an only child. We treat him like an only child! His name is Milka, a chocolate sprocker spaniel and is a little over 2 years old... full of energy and inquisitive, but completely loveable. I’m no different to the next human, and naturally fell in love with his big puppy eyes from day one. He is part of our little family, and we nurture and feel protective of him. The bond between dog and human is always cemented when they show attachment and affection of their own and Milka displays that in abundance! But it’s because of that, that I’m a little worried as to how he is going to react to being replaced as our baby, by... well, a real baby.
(Milka as a puppy in 2010, displaying a look of false innocence)
He has never shown signs of aggression towards other dogs, or to humans and is as friendly a dog as you can expect to come across. Having said that; he is often jealous, he does crave attention, he is needy and he is regularly over-boisterous. I feel in my heart of hearts that there isn’t a chance that he would ever intentionally hurt someone or something... but his excitement could definitely lead to an accident if not correctly supervised. It’s with that thought in my mind, that I am quietly worried about how he will respond to our impending arrival.
(Milka more recently. Still like butter wouldn't melt!)
I intend to be cautious and tactful when it comes to introducing Milka to his new baby brother. More importantly though, I intend on ensuring that he understands that he has found himself demoted to the bottom of our pack, and that there are multiple pack members that will now out rank him. That’s not to say that he will be loved any less of course, but pack culture is perhaps the best way to get a dog to understand. My exact plan of action isn’t yet finalised but I’ve come across plenty of tips to ensure the introduction of a new baby to your dog is a smooth transition. I came across this fantastic fact sheet that provides information on introducing a new baby to your family pet, which has helped a great deal...
Despite being a little worried (simply because it’s unknown territory), I don’t want this blog post to come across as a negative one. It makes me smile to think of where our family could be in the coming years, and Milka is always a part of that vision. At the moment, Milka is our dog, but in the future he can be so much more than that. Imagine the mischief that an inquisitive toddler could get up to, with a clumsy spaniel at his side? My dream is that the 2 of them become the best of friends. I believe that dogs can be great social facilitators for children. I’m not an animal behaviour expert, or a world famous sociologist, but I do believe that dogs can help develop kids socially, physically and emotionally.
A dog’s love is unconditional, genuine and judgement free. A dog can make a house feel warm and safe. I don’t think a house is truly a home without a canine. Our family couldn’t do without him... It’s just our job to make sure the bond he has with us is formed just as strong with our new member.