Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Dog's Best Friend

My "baby" for 7 years was my beloved mutt. She was my hiking and jogging companion. My motivation to get outside. We would take her camping, swimming, hiking, canoeing, boating, biking. We drove over 20 hours with her, camping and site seeing along the way, and she was a wonderful companion. She has attended a few weddings and many get togethers. She has always been a fairly smart and obedient dog. I had some concerns, though, when I was preparing to have a baby.

My dog is my little body guard. And this was exemplified when I became pregnant. She went from protectively barking at large trucks and animals when we were in the car to barking at everything. Cute children, harmless little ladies, friendly bike riders. She also had a bit of a problem with some men. She had attended many all day events with us, but after snapping at three men that I was talking to at a cancer fundraiser, I reluctantly had to take her home. I was a little apprehensive. I wanted my beloved buddy to continue being part of the family. Not left neglected because she was getting grumpy and old. She was certainly healthy and playful, and surprisingly still is at 9 years old.

She also wasn't that interested in rambunctious children any more. She had gone from being completely tolerant to avoiding them when one had hurt her a few years ago. I really hoped her sentiment would change when she realised this one would be here to keep.

When I had my precious munchkin it didn't seem to bother the hound, other than confusion when I would use my "little" voice. So many times she thought I was talking to her when I wasn't, so eventually she started ignoring me altogether. I would have to call her name a few times for her to believe my affection was for her.

Thankfully, the crying baby never bothered the mongrel. I babysat a dog once who howled when I sang and I was hoping that my infant's cries would not get a stressful reaction from my four legged friend. (Take note that my own dog quite likes my singing. I think.) My dog was just content that I was home so much, instead of leaving her for 9 boring hours.

As our baby grew it was obvious that her canine knew they were sisters. The dog remained protective but quickly learned to be quiet while the baby napped (usually). Once the little noise maker progressed to eating solids, the babbler was admired even more because she dropped food on the floor. I quickly taught the dog not to go near the food until the baby left the room. They could sit side by side and not share food. The mutt knew not to take food from the baby or lick her.

I wish I had the same understanding with toys. The dog learned to leave the children's toys alone. Except for rubber duckies. They have such an appealing squeak. I had to encourage the rugrat to keep them with the tub toys or the dog would steal them. My tot would try to share other toys but quickly caught on that her canine couldn't have certain items. She would tease by throwing her own ball and shaking her head "no".

I was less successful the other way around. Tears are shed sometimes because my daughter wants a ball or stick that the dog has in her mouth. She is always collecting dog toys and playing with them. She'll throw the dogs ball and be confused the times that her furry friend isn't interested.

Her infatuation with the dog toys used to bother me. Just like her love for playing with shoes. Dirty. Yuck. But instead of creating a battle, I let it go. I vacuum the hairy dog bed every few days and throw the slobbery dog toys in the washing machine once in a while. Other than that, my youngster's little immune system is developing. I just try to remember to wash busy fingers before eating.

My girl loves her dog. And her dog is amazing with her. I'll watch as the four legged one sits there submissively and allows papers, blankets, or clothing to be piled on top of her. The tail-wagger will let her mini owner examine her collar or even poke her in the eye. One time I was cutting the dog's abundantly furry paw hair and she let the baby use her as a jungle gym. I think she has only growled a few times when she was startled by being stepped on. I am so very pleased that they get along well. Baby loves Dog. And dog loves baby. It doesn't matter if she is being bothered, the dog still follows her munchkin around.

As a result, my daughter loves all dogs. I think "woof" was one of her first words. It has gotten to the point that she can't sleep in the stroller by the river anymore because there are too many dogs to see and get ecstatic about. She relishes her walk with daddy in the morning. She won't let anyone forget that she has to walk her dog. Her best friend.

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