Before Scarlett there was another little lady in my life. Her name is Zoë. She’s six pounds of love. (Actually, one and a half pounds of that is extra love, but that’s my fault. I maybe gave her one too many treats and took her on one too few walks.)
Pound for pound, Zoë may be the world’s most loving dog. With adult humans. Only. She doesn’t like other dogs or kids. In fact, she kind of hates them. Understandably, when I found out I was pregnant, I was concerned that my baby dog was going to eat my baby human. I had heard many, many stories about families who gave up their dogs after their baby arrived because the puppy just couldn’t accept the new pack member. This was not an option for me. For better or for worse, Zoë and I are together for the long haul; we will all have to work it out, no matter how long or how difficult the process.
During my pregnancy, I read books, did Internet research and watched The Dog Whisperer, all with the hope of uncovering the secret of making my dog love my baby. The tip that kept coming up over and over was to allow the dog to be in the room with the baby and be part of the family, rather than banishing her to another room because then the dog learns to associate the baby with being left out. When we brought Scarlett home, I let Zoë sit next to us and sniff her, and she has never once growled at Scarlett; she mostly just ignores her. Actually, she has been surprisingly good with her. Every once in a while, Zoë will come over and sniff Scarlett’s head, like she’s just checking to see if it’s the same baby. Yep, Zo, it’s the same baby.
And now, after months of being ignored by Zoë, Scarlett has finally noticed her. Scarlett’s face lit up today when Zoë came over for a belly rub and maybe even giggled a little. Scarlett has started reaching for things, and I know that the reach for Zoë is in the near future. I hope to get through this with neither baby nor dog getting hurt. We are entering a new chapter in the relationship between dog and baby, but I’m feeling optimistic. I like to assume the best in people and the best in dogs as well.
(Photo of Zoë by Louisa Muller)