If you recall, when I was pregnant with Pud just over 2 years ago, both of our dogs changed. Callie became increasingly wary of people she didn’t know approaching me too quickly, inserting her body between the approaching stranger and my belly, and sometimes with a very soft, low growl. She refused to leave my side to play and run with other dogs at the park. Bandit very quietly muscled his way between me and anyone he felt was standing too close to my belly, and gave a goofy grin to get attention diverted towards him (it worked, of course!). I endured daily belly checks and kisses from before we knew we were pregnant from both of them.
What’s different with Dayenu?
• A little bit of experience, for one thing. They know for sure that the new smell is not illness but another baby, so while they do still check me out daily, it’s not ten thousand times a day like before.
• They are certainly aware of others, but are also busy keeping an eye on Pud, so the intensity is definitely less on protectiveness of me.
• I have changed! I am much more energetic and active with Dayenu because of Pud, so everyone is getting more walks and more training sessions, which helps tremendously. The furballs get more exercise & mental stimulation, which eliminates their need to create more jobs for themselves than I want them to have (like being overly protective- no thank you, sweeties!), and gives them the okay to focus on the actually work I want them to do (listen for sounds, alert on B’s issues, stop and/or tell on the kid when he gets into something he’s not supposed to be into).
I figured out that we have “poisoned” our recall cue, so I changed it to a different word and made it a great and wonderful cue to increase the automaticity of running my way without hesitation when they hear it. I also figured out that we all love to take walks at the woodsy parks nearby- so we built that into our weekly routine. We have puzzles and are doing some return to the basics training sessions with some twists to help keep up skills, adjust some expectations, and eventually, add in some new tasks and skills.
Learning to balance the needs of a high-needs baby and the two very intelligent dogs has been an adjustment and a struggle over the past two years. Throw in Callie’s knee injury and surgery last year, and there’s been some rough roads. I would love it if I could say I did it all perfectly and no dog ever suffered neglect of attention, but that’s not true. It is not without a little anxiety and trepidation that I look forward at life with a baby, a toddler, and two dogs to keep up with. Please, please, please pray that Dayenu is a little easier than Pud was as an infant. I don’t care about activity levels, but I need a more sane feed/sleep/repeat routine. Pud’s need to be vertical from day one and that darn acid reflux that didn’t let up until he was nearly 1 contributed heavily to being an exhausted, somewhat bummed (okay- I’ll admit it- depressed) new mom. I can’t afford to be a bummed-out new mom this time around; Pud and those 2 furballs are depending on me to keep things “normal” as we adjust to having Dayenu around. B will certainly help, but even having him at home after Day-Day comes is gonna be a huge change for everyone, much as we love our “daddy’s home” days.