Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our 'first' baby

15 months

It's no secret that our dog Oscar isn't the friendliest dog in the world. He's a little black chihuahua who we completely spoiled rotten his whole life. He was my dog when I lived on my own and Nick fell head over heels for him the day I brought him home. He was our baby. Slept in our bed, ate off Nick's cheeseburgers (yes, seriously), went everywhere with us. He's now 8 years old and a little grumpier than he used to be, but still our little snuggle dog.

He's very territorial and protective.Of us, of his food, his toys, his bed, his spot on the couch, anything he thinks is his, which is pretty much everything in our house. He tries to make up for his small size by being the 'alpha' in every situation. He's not overly aggressive and his bark (or snarl) is worse than his bite (most of the time). However, he has bitten a few people in situations that he felt threatened or felt like I was in danger. He's not a huge fan of new people, dogs he doesn't know and small children.

Enter my state of total panic while pregnant. How is he going to deal with the baby? Is he going to eat his face off if we aren't looking? Are we going to have to get rid of him? All these questions ran through my head on a quiet, yet constant cycle. I was even a little nervous to leave the hospital and go home with Brock. Not just because of the dog, but the overall fear of how we were going to mingle this perfect new angel that had taken over our world in a matter of days, into the life we already had and loved. A big part of that life being Oscar.

We read all the tips on how to introduce your old dog to a new baby. We had family take blankets from the hospital that smelled like the baby to the dog so he would recognize the scent. We left all the baby items out for the dog to get used too, etc.

Our first day home, Nick set Brock on the floor in his car seat and Oscar went over and licked his baby hand. I literally cried - tears of joy, relief and probably hormones. The next few weeks are still kind of a blur, but I do remember Oscar being just completely out of sorts. You could tell he was frustrated that his sleep schedule was being constantly interrupted and that he was no longer the center of attention. Usually, when people come over, he demands to be paid attention to immediately. Now, people didn't even know he was there - they just wanted to see the baby.

Oscar was definitely nervous and cautious around the baby. What was this thing? Why did it move and make such awful noises? He kept his distance as much as possible. And then I started to notice that if I would walk out of the room and Brock was sleeping on the floor or couch, Oscar would go up and lay next to him. Almost like he was protecting him while I was gone. Of course he'd get up and run as soon as I got back - God forbid I catch him warming up to that thing!

As Brock has grown, he has only gotten more and more interested in Oscar. In fact, one of his first 'real' words was 'dog'! Oscar likes to be near him, but not touching him. If Brock gets too close, Oscar will usually head for the hills. I was nervous with each new milestone - crawling, walking, exploring - that Oscar would feel territorial toward something Brock was getting too close to and then growl at him or even nip at him. We've had a few incidents where Oscar showed his teeth, but he knows to just remove himself from the situation (and we obviously keep a close eye at all times).

Now, Brock will throw the ball for Oscar and Oscar will bring it back to him. And Brock's new favorite activity is to walk the dog. He likes to hold the leash when we go on walks. Given that Oscar is only 12 pounds and pretty chill, he can't pull Brock over. Last night we went to the park and just let Brock hold the leash and wander around with Oscar. It was so amazing to see how far we've come and made me so proud of Oscar. I know it wasn't easy to adjust to all the newness of a baby and while he's not this super kid-friendly, ready to play dog, he's done better than I thought he would.

Everyone warned me before I had Brock that the dog would lose his place a little bit. He wouldn't be our 'baby' anymore. I swore up and down that would never happen. But, of course they were right. He's still our first 'baby', but the amount of attention he gets is far less than it used to be. Nick has been so much better than I have about giving him love, treats and affection. And as we've settled into our parent roles, I feel like I'm getting better about making sure he still feels loved from his mama. I know I probably didn't do right by him during the first few months, but hopefully he knows he'll always be my first baby!

I do want to get another dog when we have a bigger house. One that is a little more 'kid friendly' and will let Brock pull on his ears and lay on him with no issues. There is no doubt that Oscar is our dog so I feel like Brock should have one that is all his. But until then, it's fun watching their relationship grow and learn from each other.

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