Before we had Annie, David and I were already parents. To a furry baby who, best we can tell, is a mix of German Shepherd and Border Collie. Parents to the sweetest, gentlest, best dog in the whole world, Jackson. I know everyone says their dog is the best, but for reals people, ours is. David brought Jackson to our marriage, and my love for this dog was instantaneous. I had never really been a “dog person,” and had never owned a dog before. But all that changed when I met sweet Jackson.
While I was pregnant, I had little daydreams of the fun our soon-to-be-born daughter would have with her “brother.” We talked to Jackson about the baby (this is where you might start to think we are a little crazy, but for those of you who also have a pet that you treat like a real, true member of the family, you get what I’m saying), and prepared him for the fact that he would be sharing the house with a little tiny person. He seemed okay with that idea.
|Last family picture before Annie's arrival.|
I feel this is a good place to mention that we also have two cats. But seeing as how they regard us more as people who share their home and provide them with nourishment and less as parents, we didn’t really spend much time thinking about how they would adapt to the change a baby would bring. And they have pretty much ignored Annie since we brought her home, so we were right in our assessment of how they would be affected – or, unaffected – by her presence.
Back to my daydreams…I had visions of a toddler Annie trying to ride Jackson like a horse and him good naturedly letting her do it. I visualized him lying next to her as she played on the floor and her jabbering away at him like he was a person. I thought about how she would beg us to let her hold his leash when we all went out for a family walk. Oh, the fun the two of them were going to have!
When we brought Annie home from the hospital, we were mindful of how it would affect Jackson. We put her receiving blankets around the house for him to sniff and get used to her smell. We tried to pay special attention to him, although we obviously couldn’t devote the kind of time to him we once had, with a newborn to care for. And for the most part, he adjusted just fine. He spent a couple of weeks sleeping right next to me in bed, and I mean, right next to me, as in, with his head on my pillow and his body stretched out the length of mine, as close as he could get to me. But he didn’t show any other outward signs of attachment issues or anxiety.
|Jackson and Annie meet.|
And while he seems okay with this new arrangement, I think it is going to take a little longer than I had hoped for him to see Annie as his best buddy. She hasn’t mastered the art of petting him yet and is more inclined to grab handfuls of his fur and pull it. He isn’t really a fan of this. Go figure. And once, when they were lying near each other on the floor, she reached out and grabbed the fur between his toes (which is, apparently, his biggest doggy pet peeve) and he reacted by snarling a little. He didn’t even come close to snapping or biting at her, but he let go with this kind of low, quick growl, that was enough to scare this mama (although not the baby) and I kind of yelled at him for it. Since then, he has been reluctant to be too close to Annie…since he got in trouble the last time he was…so snuggling and cuddling between dog and baby is a little out of the question right about now.
And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed with the state of affairs. I guess I had perhaps unrealistically hoped that Jackson would love Annie from the beginning. But I know that kind of thing takes time…and perhaps a little more self-control from Annie in the fur pulling department.
For her part, Annie has completely fulfilled my dreams of the relationship that would form between the two of them. She LOVES Jackson. She smiles every single time he comes in the room. She thinks he is hysterical and laughs at him every chance she gets. (She is also pretty fond of the cats, so the zoo we have going on in our house provides her with lots of entertainment). She wants to touch him and pet him and loves it when he edges closer to her blanket when she’s playing with toys on the floor.
And while Jackson may not be ready to snuggle up to her just yet, he is really protective of her. If she is in her crib and starts to cry, he runs into her room and then comes back out to either me or David as if to say, “Don’t you hear that? Could you take care of her, please?” You know, sort of like our own little Lassie.
So I guess I need to give it time. I am still hopeful that, given some time, the friendship I have been envisioning for months will form between baby girl and puppy. So long as she learns that toe fur is off limits. And really, who can blame him for having that boundary?