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Guest Post: Family Pets

I know that introducing Claire to Comang and his adjustment to no longer being the “baby” of the house will be difficult, but I am determined to make it work. So when Heather first contacted me about possibly writing a guest post on the addition of babies to households with pets, I jumped at the chance. It also didn’t hurt that she works for Trupanion, which is the pet insurance company that my vet recommends over all the rest.

I hope that all fellow pet owners will enjoy this post as much as I did! And if you have any additional family pet success stories, do share! 

I’ve been following Jenny for a while now and among all her fun finds and interesting commentary, I have been really engrossed in her experience with combining her new motherhood with her existing motherhood of Comang.

You know Comang, right? He is the adorable Shih-tzu depicted in her blog header. It’s been fun to read Jenny’s musings on the similarities between caring for a dog and becoming a mom, as well as how Comang was preparing her for future motherhood.

Currently, Comang is residing with Jenny’s parents until they are organized enough to introduce him to the new family dynamic. Which got me to thinking: How difficult is it to blend babies and pets? With all the good intentions pet parents have with keeping things as normal as possible for their beloved fur babies, is it really possible?

Success stories are actually difficult to find, I’ve found. I’ve unfortunately read many more instances of families giving away their pets when a baby arrives. And while all situations are different, I am desperate to find those with happy endings. There ARE success stories out there, and that is what I want to focus on today.

Amber at Ambergontrail wrote a post back in August about how her dog Woofie and her daughter Piper were just starting to get past the adjustment period to become best friends. She wrote about how she was observing the two and it dawned on her that Woofie was actually playing with Piper — teasing her with a rope toy, then snatching it out of her reach when she lunged for it, then once again tempting her with the toy. Piper was laughing and everyone was having a great time. She called this the start of the “Piper and Woofie —Best Friends Forever” era. It took nine months to get there, but it did work out.

Kali at Evidently… had the task of introducing her new baby Sidney to her beloved cat Oliver and at first, Oliver was none too happy about the new ‘rules.’ He was no longer allowed in certain rooms of the house. He no longer had the rapt attention of his humans any time he wanted it. The basement was no longer entirely his to run to whenever he pleased. Kali said it took three months to establish enough of a routine with Sidney where they had free time to devote to Oliver. And once the whole family — Oliver included — adjusted to the new way of life, Kali found that Oliver became quite loyal and interested in Sidney, and vice versa.

Erin at Blue-Eyed Bride talks a lot about how her son Hudson absolutely adores her two dogs to the point where the dogs’ names were two of Hudson’s first words. Hudson is especially fond of Boudreaux, the family’s Golden Retriever. Boudreaux allows Hudson to crawl all over him and Hudson loves getting kisses in return. But at the beginning, she did acknowledge an adjustment period. Before the baby was born, the two dogs were re-trained to sleep on the floor instead of the bed. Then, when the baby arrived, big Boudreaux no longer fit on the couch with mom and baby, so he didn’t get as much snuggle time. Plus, while recovering from birth, the daily walks the dogs were used to were stopped and the dogs were cooped up inside a lot. But they made it through it and now enjoy being part of a bigger family.

What I take away from these stories is simple — things will change. And I’m guessing that realizing that is half the battle. Currently I’m babyless, and while it’s hard for me to imagine right now, I need to realize that when I have a baby I will be spending significantly less time with my fur-babies and 99.9% of my love and attention will be directed to the new addition, at least in the beginning.

Adjustments will have to be made and routines will have to be established in a different way. But I hope to learn from Jenny, Amber, Kali and Erin, and be able to make the switch from solely a pet parent to a parent of babies and pets.

Does anyone out there have other experiences with this? Any other tips or tricks to share?

About the Author:

Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and internet journalist at Trupanion, a pet insurance company. Feel free to contact her with any questions related to pet insurance at heather.reynolds@trupanion.com.