Are you one of those parents-to-be who reads pretty much every article and book you can get your hands on? I think it’s fair to say I fall into that category…I look at this time as my training: I’m a student of parenting before this baby comes home in my arms. So needless to say, as a dog owner, I’ve read at least half a dozen articles about helping one’s pet adjust to a new family member.
These articles all make similar suggestions to help ease the transition: set things up so your pet can see the new stuff for the baby, let your pet smell an article of the baby’s clothing before bringing him or her home from the hospital, even pay a little less attention to your animal who may be accustomed to getting lots of your uninterrupted affection. But some changes have already started taking place in our home that we could not expect, so I thought I’d share a few shifts that have raised our eyebrows in wonder or made us laugh. Perhaps you can relate.
THE PROTECTOR ROLE HAS SHIFTED
Our dog has always made it clear she is my protector, but a recent change has become apparent in the protective order in our home. When thunder or fireworks filled our neighborhood, I used to be the go-to person our pup sought for consolation. Even during the month of July as the celebrations seemed incessant in our neck of Colorado, she would turn to me first, and if another went off, she may duck into my husband’s chair. In recent weeks however, I have been generally abandoned in this regard. The line of safety seems to now be: dog protects me, my husband protects the dog. With any startling, she runs to the non-pregnant person in our household. Perhaps she knows I have someone new to protect who is now filling out my mid-section generously.
EATING MEALS TOGETHER
Do you have one of those dogs who devours food the moment you lay it out or the kind who dabbles in it through out the day? Our canine has taken turns doing both, but a new tradition has recently begun. By the time she gets up in the morning, breakfast is usually already in her bowl. Rather than eat though, she rests in the kitchen as I prepare breakfast, watches me sit down at the table, moves to her bowl, looks back up, and only once I start eating, like a polite guest at a dinner party, does she start consuming her meal. It is not as consistent at dinner, but she still does this often in the evenings as well. Is she just making sure we both get to eat?
WALKING IS GETTING HARDER
So as third trimester is well upon us, my energy level no longer leaves me enjoying a 2-3 mile walk in the heat of the sunny summer day (big shocker I know). I try to get in about a mile with my dog, but was feeling guilty, and confessed this to my husband one night. Seeing my concern, he said: “All you need to do is ask and I’m happy to help with these types of things.” Sure enough, starting the next morning, he shortened his gym work out by 15 minutes and immediately came home to take our dog out. I rescued her about 14 months before meeting my husband, so her loyalty has remained pretty clear, but in the past, she jumped at the chance to go for a walk, even with just him. On this morning, she was not about to leave my side though. Despite his calls, she stayed on her bed beside me (also still in bed) until she was leashed and harnessed.
The walk lasted about a whopping 5 minutes as she was apparently pulling to come back home the entire way. So my husband brought her back and tried the next day. Same thing happened. By day 3, she ran in his direction when she heard her leash come out, but they only made it to the front of our next-door-neighbor’s house. That trajectory continued for about another week until another shift came.
For the past couple of days, when my husband grabbed the leash, our dog walked to the edge of our bedroom, peered down the hall at my husband, then leaped up onto our bed and snuggled up beside me. Her tail was wagging like she was looking forward to going out, but body language clearly indicated, this is who I need to be with right now. She’s a Shepherd mix, so protective instincts are innate and manifesting in funny new ways. On days when they did walk- they never made it beyond the house next door.
I have read that dogs can smell a difference in pregnant women (changing hormone production) and that clues them in to a change. Perhaps pets notice that movement changes or they see and wonder about the rapid weight gain. All the new furniture and items in the house probably clue them in, not to mention mom’s fluctuation of moods and often tears too. Our pets tend to be very intuitive creatures. For my fellow expectant parents out there, have you observed any funny changes in your pets’ behavior? If so, I hope you’ll share, or at least remember to laugh at the funny shifts in life. Happy day!