Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dogs and Babies

We have two big dogs, Chewie & Bridget. They are great dogs and have their quirks.

We have been working with them to get ready for our new babies to come home. We brought home from the NICU blankets and hats, even a dirty diaper, for the dogs to smell. We were hoping they'd get used to the baby smell. They sniffed then walked away like it was nothing of interest. We were worried that Bridget, the excessively hyper and not so gentle dog, would be trouble. I secretly think she's part kangaroo, so much so we almost changed her name to Kanga but she wouldn't come when we called her by that name. We assumed that Chewie would be curious but he was his normally aloof self and paid no attention to the items presented for inspection.

Then one night we brought home Cameron. As expected the dogs were curious. They were sniffing furiously at the baby in the car seat and all his tubes and wires. You could almost hear them talking between themselves, "What could this thing be? It smells funny, can I eat it? Does it want to play? Why don't you want me to lick it Dad?" You know, the typical dog questions when you bring new stuff home.

Then Cameron let out a few grunts and squeaks and the dogs went nuts. "OMG! OMG! It's moving! Oh Cool! I want it! I want it! Best toy ever!" They wanted to know what this new critter was and what could they do with it? Then the baby let out a loud wail and fearless Bridget bolted out the back door!

What a shock! The bold, dominant, typically fearless Catahoula dog was terrified of a six pound baby!!

But what was even more shocking and troublesome was that calm, centered, lovable Chewie was even more vexed and curious about his smelly, squirmy thing. He would not leave this baby alone. Every move, every peep, every baby related item was of paramount interest to him. It was because of Chewie and our nervousness as new first time parents that our first night home with our son was terrible. The baby was fine, we were anxious and stressed, and Chewie was obsessed!

He would hover near the crib, cramming his nose between the slats. When we put the baby in the portable crib in our bedroom for the night Chewie would hang his head over the side and sniff and stare. If the baby was crying Chewie had to be right there, staring and cocking his head from one angle to the next, eyes darting from Mom to Baby to Dad to Baby. Why does it make these sounds!!!? What does it want?? (Mom and Dad were trying to figure this out too.)

Then the very next night we brought home yet another baby!!! Bridget put herself to bed in her crate with her ears hanging low. The willful, carefree puppy days are over in her mind. Chewie was very, very confused. "Two? How many were in this litter anyway? Where are the others?" I really think he expected more babies to come home each day for the next week. Eventually over the last three weeks Chewie has calmed down, and now he doesn't obsess as much about the babies.

But the most interesting thing about all of this is that Chewie is infatuated with Cameron. It's very clear. Evan can let out a furious wail and Chewie looks are him with one eye and lets out a big sigh. Cameron can let out a furious wail and it's "OMG! What it doing? Does it want to play? I should go check it out. Maybe it needs licking." Something about Cameron gets Chewie's attention. He comes running when he hears even a peep out of Cameron, but totally ignores Evan. He wants to sit next to whomever is holding Cameron at the time. He goes to the crib to check on Cameron periodically throughout the day. Something about this Cameron kid is intriguing to him, but we don't know what it is.

It could be that he senses that Cameron is "sick". All the tubes and monitor wires, machine beeps and oxygen compressor noise associated with this kid might be the reason he's unsettled. But it's got to be more than that. If I could just put my finger on what it is. Even now, Chewie is laying in the hallway struggling to stay awake, watching me hold Cameron as I type this post. He's keeping a close eye on this one. You never know when a six pound baby might wreck havoc and someone's got to be there to help! Chewie is your man. I mean dog....


heather said...

We thought our German Shepherd mix felt sorry for this "furless puppy" we brought home.