My Baby's Keeper

Marley in protective mode.

When we brought our little Fern home from the birthing center, one of the things we were most excited about was introducing her to our dog Marley.

We laid Fern down on the couch and had Marley come over so she could give her a good once over with her sniffer.  But, after that initial introduction, Marley didn’t show much interest in Fern.  She didn’t seem jealous or anything and she was never mean or rough with Fern, just mostly indifferent.  In Marley’s eyes any person unwilling or unable to throw her ball isn’t worth much of a time investment.

But, recently as Fern is spending more and more time on the floor having tummy time at Marley’s level, her feelings seem to have changed.

Read more after the jump! 

The main photo for this post was from bath time this week.  It was the first time that Marley had seen us give Fern a bath and she was incredibly concerned about it.  It was almost like she thought I was maybe trying to drown her or something, but whatever the case, she barked at me and whined and paced back and forth in the bathroom during the entire bath!

Another similar situation was when we went camping with a group of people recently and it was the first time that there had been other dogs around Fern when Marley was around.  As is the usual with situations with large groups and a baby, she was passed around throughout our time there and anytime she would be in someone else’s arms Marley would go walk right by them.  And if there were any other dogs around Fern she would be on high alert.

It’s sweet to see her with “her baby”.  Unfortunately Marley never had babies of her own, but I guess she just saved up all that motherly instinct for Fern.  I can’t wait for Fern to get bigger and have wonderful adventures with Marley!

If you have pets, how have they responded to your little one(s)?


Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.

More Babbling…

Tagged as:

Babies and Pets


So You Want a Pet…

Babies, houses, pets… they seem to go together. Deep in our minds (OK, sometimes not so deep) we all have an image of family—so often that image involves a tumbling ball of kids and animals, cavorting sweetly on the green grass lawn. Is this your dream? A house filled with laughter, furry creatures, and children?

This longing for a complete family—including domestic animals (the hunting hound sleeping by the fire)—sometimes blinds us to the cruel reality that pet and babies are like oil and water, each wonderful, but not always great at blending.

Now, I’m a pet lover, a cat lover, a dog adorer—I’m not saying don’t have pets, just time them. I’ve come to this conclusion after experiences of my own (and we don’t even have a tender baby in the house!) About a year ago, my hormones finally got the best of me (“Next time I start making noises for another baby, get me a dog, will you?” I told my husband long ago). Enter Mollie, an 8-week-old Labrador shepherd also known as a mutt, a pound special, an all-American blenderization, a mixed-breed, a little six-pound sleepy wonder. Cute? You’ve never seen so cute.

Then Mollie got bigger. And bigger. And then she began to bite. We’re not talking serious damage here, but her teething was so extreme that it drove us to puppy training classes where I grimly showed my shredded arms and wondered what kind of bestial fiend I was exposing my only daughter to. Then my daughter Annie showed the class her shredded legs, and my reputation was toast. Burnt toast.

Of course, “mouthy” puppies grow out of it, if trained correctly, and the only time Mollie attacks my feet now is when I’m on a business call. Every afternoon, Annie runs into the house, flops on the floor, and the dog licks her face, both of them completely gentle and trusting. But it took a year to get here. For quite a few months, Annie’s progress around the house was impeded wherever she had to actually touch wood planks or carpet instead of hopping from chair to couch to cabinet to avoid the puppy.

While Annie spent months hiding from the puppy’s sharp teeth, I thanked my lucky stars that I hadn’t gotten a dog when Annie was a baby. And I started thinking about pets and babies in general. Both dogs and cats can be loving or ignoring of babies. But it is a risk. Think of the worst-case scenarios: cute little furry kittens with big eyes and razor sharp claws that can take out the eye of an infant. Grown dogs, who might be tolerant of a few tail pulls but might rebel and snap the nose off a curious toddler who pokes that pencil a little too far up the dog’s nose. Hamsters that nip. Birds that peck.

I know, from experience and from all those books and movies, that animals and children can be an amazing combination. Loyal, friendly, loving to each other. But that’s kids. When your baby is a baby, stay out of that pet store, don’t even walk into that animal shelter! And by all means, stay away from those cages in front of the supermarket that the local humane society haul out every weekend filled with needy, sweetie, animals. Wait, I tell you, wait! Puppies and kittens and bunnies and babies do not mix.

Tagged as: