WICHITA, Kan. — Two years ago, my husband and I adopted our first baby — a little girl we named Abby. She weighed 8 pounds and was covered in black and white fur. Abby, a border collie, immediately became the center of attention at our house. We taught her tricks, took her with us nearly everywhere and played ball and Frisbee with her every day. I took her to obedience classes, and my husband took her to agility classes. She had a good life.
Three months ago, our baby Kyle arrived. He also weighed about 8 pounds but without the fur.
Abby’s lifestyle had slowed down a bit before he arrived, and she had been sniffing my belly for several months. She knew something was up.
People kept asking me, “How do you think Abby will be with the baby?” I had no idea. I was worried that she might be jealous or that she might get too excited and be rough with him.
When we brought Kyle home, Abby was mostly just happy to see us. When I held Kyle down to show her, she just sniffed him a little, wagged her tail and started begging to play.
At first she kept her distance, unsure of the new little being. Within a few days she was venturing close enough to sniff his head, which always resulted in tail wagging. As she got braver, she added a little lick on the head.
It can take months for a pet to adjust to a new baby in the house, said Jennifer Campbell, director of communications for the Kansas Humane Society.
But preparing a pet in advance for the baby’s arrival can help make that adjustment easier.
“The best preparation is to start making adjustments ahead of time,” Campbell said. “It won’t be as traumatic for them if the routine has changed before this new little creature becomes part of the family.”
That change in routine has been the hardest adjustment for Abby. She was accustomed to waiting patiently for me each morning as I got dressed and brushed my teeth before we went outside to play.
That’s not our routine anymore. First the baby gets fed and changed, then maybe I get dressed and brush my teeth. And it’s been too cool to take the baby outside. Abby can’t seem to understand and has spent a lot of mornings sitting by the back door with sad eyes.
Campbell suggests changing your pet’s routine two months before the baby is due.
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