Some lesbians are ‘cat’ people, some lesbians are ‘dog’ people. Candice and I are the latter. We adore our pups and before Oscar was born, they were pretty much our fur babies. Yoshi is a 4 year old Chocolate labrador and Luna is a 3 year old Golden Retriever, so they are both still very young and energetic. They are indoor dogs, they slept on the end of our bed, they were given too many treats, regular new toys, allowed on the couch with us (often stretched out, taking up more room that we did) and more than anything else they had our constant attention.
Therefore, when I was pregnant with Oscar, we were naturally concerned as to how they would cope with his arrival. We asked around for advice and read up on as much as we could but we were still nervous about it.
Probably the most useful advice we read was to make sure that we implemented any new house rules BEFORE Oscar came home. The reason for this is that you don’t want your dog to associate the new baby with all the new changes, forming jealousy or a resentment.
So we sat down, made a plan and decided to implement it gradually.
A few months before his due date, we put the steps of our plan into motion.
Step 1: Getting them sleeping off our bed – We moved some dog beds into our bedroom and made Yoshi and Luna sleep on them instead of the bed. It was hard at first because they were so used to snuggling up at our feet but after a week or so of redirecting them back to their beds, they got the picture. Luna took a little longer as she’s a bit of a sook but eventually they knew to just walk straight to their beds on the floor.
Step 2: Get them sleeping out of our bedroom – We moved both of their dog beds into the hallway just outside our bedroom. Then after a few days we moved the dog beds even further, into the lounge room. It was really important for us to get them out of our bedroom at night. The last thing we wanted to deal with on top of a frequently waking newborn, was frequently waking dogs. We could just foresee a constant cycle of both the dogs and Oscar waking at alternate times.
Step 3. We had a doggy door installed in our back door so that they could let themselves outside if they needed to go to the toilet, rather than waking us.
Step 4. We sectioned off a 3 x 2.5 metre area in our garage, accessible via another doggy door. This was for the days when they would need to be outside and it would provide warmth, shelter from wind and rain, beds and water. Hell, it even had a rug!
Step 4: We put up a retractable baby gate to block off the hallway which had both our bedroom and Oscar’s bedroom coming off it. This was so that in the middle of the night, when we needed to move between rooms for nappy changes, we could do so without the dogs getting in the way or getting excited and making noise.
Step 5. We let them explore Oscar’s room (lay on his rug, smell things, etc) but were very strict with them if they tried to pick anything up. This was so hard because so many baby toys just look like dog toys! It was important though, as they needed to learn that Oscar was the boss and that his things weren’t for them to take.
Step 6. A few days after Oscar was born, while we were still staying at the hospital, Candice took a blanket that had Oscar’s scent on it and let them both suss it out.
Step 7. We introduced them one at a time, in his nursery. I sat on a stool with a firm grip on Oscar and Luna came in first. She was super gentle and had a good smell before resting her head on his legs. Next came in Yoshi and while she was less calm, she was still really good. I should mention that we had been in hospital for 5 days so they were also just really excited to see US.
Over the next couple of weeks they both became used to him being around. We never left Oscar in a room alone with them, even for a minute. I’m positive they wouldn’t have harmed him but of course neither of us were prepared to take that gamble, no matter the odds.
Having them indoors was actually a lot easier when he was a newborn. It’s only now that he is on the floor a lot playing that our dogs spend a lot more time outside during the day. Particularly now that Oscar is on the move, pulling himself up on everything and spreading his toys all over the place. Some days I feel bad that they aren’t inside but then I remember that’s it’s only temporary. Once Oscar has found his feet, thing will go back to normal and they will be allowed inside all the time again.
It’s incredibly cute to watch Oscar interact with Yoshi and Luna. He is honestly in love with them! He smiles and squeals when he spots them through the window and giggles when we spend time outside with them. Seriously adorable.