Madison has seen the face of the enemy, and it is pink.
Our five-year-old Yellow Labrador was freaked out when Sue began talking to her belly a few months ago, and she started sulking when she saw us loading Sue’s overnight bag into the Cherokee in anticipation of her impending labor (Mad Dog knows that when the bag comes out, we’re going away … and she hates that).
Knowing that Maddie was going to have trouble adjusting, we decided to take the advice of our midwife and start adjusting her to the idea of having a baby around the house. Last night we got out one of Sue’s life-sized dolls and started treating it like the baby. We wiped it down with baby wipes and put a diaper on it, so she’d get used to the smell, and started carrying it around with us, treating it all the while like the baby.
Mad Dog was initially curious. She came over and sniffed the doll’s feet while we held it. We muttered “easy, easy” which is the command we use when we want her to calm down. It worked. She backed off slightly and watched intently as we talked to the doll, praising it, cuddling it, and finally letting it sit on our laps.
Throughout the night, as we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding on DVD, Sue or I would talk to it, and Madison would cock an ear. If we continued, she’d come over, and sniff it again, still not quite sure what was going on.
When it came time to go to sleep, we carried the doll upstairs and laid it down in the baby’s bassinet, next to our bed. Once again, Madison’s curiosity drove her to check out this weird little pink thing. She started to stick her nose into the bassinet until we quietly told her “easy”, after which she backed off slightly.
This morning it was more of the same – me picking up the baby and carrying it around, Madison following me skeptically. So far, it seems to be working. Madison’s intrigued by the doll, and she’s paying attention to us and it, which bodes well for when the real baby comes home. I’m planning on bringing home a baby blanket from the hospital for her to smell, which is another tactic that experts recommend for introducing pets to new babies. Hopefully this will all help to soften the impact on Madison, who still seas herself as the center of our pack, right behind the two alpha “dogs’ (my wife and I).
And what of our other dog, Saint? The German Shepherd Dog sniffed the doll once or twice and then walked away. We adopted him when he was three, from a family that had kids, so for him this is old hat. Once the baby comes, I fully expect that he’ll dutifully keep an eye on it, and will probably try to “herd” the baby once it starts crawling, but for him, this is no big deal. For Madison though, it’s the end of the world – at least until she figures out that she can get food from the baby.