Before our baby girl Malia came along, our world revolved around our dog, Dexter (and still does, depending on which one of us you talk to). See fig. 1.
We treat him like our son, and I’m 97% sure he thinks he’s one of us. We spoil him endlessly. Treats, mountains of toys, frequent stays at a luxury dog hotel, etc. And in return, he lets us spoon him at night. Fair trade-off.
While pregnant with Malia, I tried to research what was the best way to prepare our pup for a new sibling. I was stressed knowing that Dexter disliked small kids, particularly little boys (luckily for M). To be clear, he is not aggressive. He gets nervous with all their energy and barks at them to settle down and stop the silliness. So I played YouTube videos of babies crying. I let him smell some of the lotions and creams I’d eventually use on her. He familiarized himself with her nursery that we were building. And after she was born, Darick brought home her newborn beanie for him to sniff. All we could do was just cross our fingers.
We arrived home a few days before Christmas. Slush still lingered along our streets and sidewalks. And to our pleasant surprise (sense the tone), we also came home to a large sinkhole in the front of our house. Nope. Can’t make this stuff up. In other words, we were stuck inside for a very long time.
Dexter was very cautious and confused, understandably. I think that no amount of preparation could ready him for this change. What happened to all the attention? Why can’t I sit on your lap?
Fortunately, he only minimally acted out a few times. For instance, I found one of Malia’s newborn onesies in his house. I have no idea how he got his paws on it. I then put it away in a pile in the closet to wash and then give away. The next morning I caught him taking the onesie back! I think he had plans for it. Voodoo? I’m not sure. I let him keep it. We then caught him with a pacifier. We couldn’t help but laugh. He’s also stolen a few of her toys. Can’t fault him for that; some of the toys even have squeakers. Sophie the Giraffe’s days are numbered.
These days he is more used to having the girl around. Sometimes I see him sprawled on the bed and snoring while Malia is screaming at the top of her lungs. That’s not to say that he isn’t jealous. When Dex sees me sitting down without Malia anywhere near, he will immediately climb on my lap to take advantage of the rare occasion. Also when he sees me hand feeding her some Puffs, he tries to make eye contact with me, in case I wanted to hand feed him something too.
Now that Malia is older and mobile, she is certainly more curious about her oddly shaped brother. I am teaching her to softly pet his back (in which he’s still pretty skittish with her unpredictable motions). They are also never alone together. Not that Malia would ever let me out of her sight anyway.
I am still holding out hope that Dex will one day warm up to her. Will he play with her in the backyard in the summertime? Will he walk her to her bus stop and wait by the window until she comes home? Maybe not. But I am sure they’ll make some memories. I also hope he feels that we haven’t forgotten what he means to us. He is not just any dog. He’s our Head of Security.
Any tips on fostering a friendly relationship between a curious baby and nervous high maintenance dog? Comment down below!