I am a mother of two. One is an adorable 3 month old who loves to smile and squeal.The other is a 5 year old terrier, who loves to chase squirrels and cuddle. One is our baby Vir and the other is our “fur baby” Rio !
Hell yes my dog is my baby!! I feed him, bathe him, walk him, play with him, take him to his vet appointments, buy him treats and toys, dress him up for Halloween, protect him from danger (stray cats in our neighborhood are vicious!), worry about him all night if he is ill, comfort him when he is scared, take family pictures with him, miss him when I am traveling, scold him when he is naughty and most importantly, love him with all my heart as I am his MOM. No wonder I didn’t refrain from celebrating Motherhood as a Dog Mom for the past 5 years. Oprah’s quote – “Biology is the least of what makes… someone a mother” has stuck with me all this time.
The feeling of maternal love and the sensibilities of a mother first came to me when we adopted Rio from a local shelter here in Houston, when he was just 4 weeks, back in 2011. He just didn’t walk into our house with his tiny paws; he walked straight into our hearts.
We knew we were ready for this commitment of loving and caring for him for the rest of his life. His dark brown eyes and constant need for cuddle and kisses filled my heart with immeasurable love and an immediate need to protect and treasure him! For us Rio isn’t a domesticated animal but our first child. And I don’t mind saying that Rio trained me to be a better mom, since I made those classic first born child mistakes with him.
I believe it is the little things that shape our relationships in life, and my relationship with Rio is no different. Everything I do for him results in love and gratitude. His unconditional love, boundless energy, unrestrained affection and loyalty make us smile even in the worst of days! The mere mention of “Let’s go” makes him jump with joy. Watching him stick his head out of the car window just cracks me up every time. And the best part of the day is coming home to a wagging tail.
When we found out that we were pregnant we were excited that our pack was going to grow! From flooding hormones to slight differences in routine, it is more than likely that Rio picked up on changes even before I started sporting a bump. He would sit and stare at me and follow me everywhere in the house, especially when I was suffering from nausea. (He would always be standing outside the bathroom). Rio also started camping at my feet in the bed and liked laying his head next to my belly when we watched TV. Things would sometimes get weird when he would chew up my underwear while I was gone. Now that I think about it, maybe he was acting out or feeling neglected. But he was definitely picking up something. They say a dog can tell that you are pregnant “Although it hasn’t been scientifically explored, it’s within the realm of reason,” Jennie K. Willis, an applied animal behaviorist, told Animal Planet.
Some people believe that it can be dangerous to bring a baby into a home with a dog. However, according to all the dog parents and owners between our family and friends; ‘Dogs have been loyal, loving and protective family members for them’. We were quite confident that Rio would be a good dog around Vir. As he prefers the company of human friends over dogs and is most excited when our friends come over (I think he is convinced that they are his buddies and are there to visit him). Yet, we often wondered how Rio would react when he would see Vir for the first time. Would he be scared, friendly, excited, indifferent or jealous? We researched online on how to introduce your baby for the first time to your dog, read online forums and checked out the cute videos recorded by awesome dog parents. Please look up dog adoption and training guide for more information and tips on dog and baby relationship.
As newborn baby Vir entered his house for the first time, Rio waited anxiously at the door the entire day. I walked in first, hugged him and let him know that I missed him too. Once his initial excitement had died down a bit, we moved to the living room to introduce Vir to Rio. I remember he was excited, anxious, nervous all at same time and started to whimper as we walked into the house carrying Vir. We sat down on the couch and Rio immediately jumped next to me (still whimpering) and was bewildered to see Vir for the first time. He kept licking me and Deep and then very slowly, came close to Vir and sniffed him. Their introduction was priceless. Rio was extremely curious, but above all he was gentle towards his baby brother. It was a very emotional moment for all of us; I wasn’t prepared to see Rio whimpering like that for almost five to ten minutes after we got in the house. I was in tearsLet me tell you, Rio has grown extremely needy since the baby has got here and is comp
eting for our attention by acting cute. Sometimes it seems he is trying too hard as he tries to play on his back or rub his face on the carpet or just constantly wag his tail while staring at us. He is slowly getting used to the fact that this new human is here to stay.I wished the two would have hit it off as BFFs right from the start, but it seems we will have to wait a bit longer. Rio still maintains his distance from Vir and avoids getting too close to him unless I call him to sit or sleep next to him. He does not show much affection towards Vir, but at the same time thankfully he isn’t jealous of him. (I think, he thinks of him as a mischievous tiny human, who has not only taken his spot on the sofa but is constantly pooping, and peeing all day!!) ( You can follow their journey on my Instagram account)
We are working on creating that special bond between them. We make sure to include Rio in all our daily activities and keep the same routine as earlier. Rio knows that the baby comes above him in the pack order as he is aware of his boundaries of where he is allowed in the house and that the baby’s stuff is not his to chew or play. (Rio avoids everything but chews on his diapers when we are gone, I don’t know why he does it, but we are dealing with this phase right now). We call Rio every day to come and sniff the baby and also give him treats when he licks Vir’s feet to associate with space and respect. Its now a rule in the house to play with Rio first and then hold the baby, especially when our guests come over, as he would jump in between to get all the attention first. (jealous one)
My relationship with Rio made me realize dogs are nothing like humans; they can go through hell, yet forgive easily. This kind of love is one of the best things in life to experience as he filled a space in my heart that I never knew existed. It is an amazing feeling to be licked on your face when you are stressed or rubbed by a wet nose when you are lonely. No matter how crappy your day is, there is always a happy face waiting for you to get home.
I am thankful for my Dog for all the paw prints on my floor, for all the slobbery kisses on my face and for the fur on my clothes… for there will come a day when there is too much room in my bed.
“Parenthood requires Love not DNA”- unknown