This is a post I’ve held while debating on whether or not to let it go “live.”, the day it happened, I knew we’d have to tell the story, but each time I thought about it, my stomach wound into knots. What if it we aren’t able to articulate it as a positive? What if the words are regurgitated in a negative way? I even considered editing a bit, but in the end, it is what it is and too many people I talk to don’t understand that a growl is a good thing. What if, what if, what if…
But the bottom line is, it happened, we recognized it and can even be that much better to have had the experience and since Asia was there, she has decided to tell the story.
It all happened so quickly that afterwards I almost thought it was a dream. My heart was pounding as I held my daughter close. I’m an overprotective Mom. Even my own mom teases me about it being a wonder that I made it to the age I am since I sometimes give her “suggestions” when she is watching Baby, but I can’t help it.
I think all dog owners with small children worry about an incident happening and we did a lot of work with a trainer in anticipation of Baby’s arrival. When I was pregnant I had no idea how Ray would react to a baby and because he was such a high maintenance puppy, I prepared myself for the worst, but in my heart I knew our loving Ray-Ray would be gentle with her. He might be confused with her arrival, since HE was the baby of the house but I knew he would learn and grow to love her, after all, we were prepared.
Ray mostly hangs out in the kitchen and living room area, but Baby and I have been spending more and more time with him in there as well as him roaming the house freely. Baby was sitting on the floor while I was sitting above her on the couch and Ray was lying on the floor near us. Any time Baby starts to crawl towards Ray; I pick her up and redirect her. He gets nervous easily and I don’t want to push their relationship too fast. This time I wasn’t quick enough. I looked away for a second, and Baby had crawled over to Ray who was licking a sore spot on his back leg. I stood up to get the baby, and in that same moment she grabbed his leg and Ray jumped up and made a sound; a growl and bared his teeth. I picked Baby up and we were both shaken. I smacked Ray’s butt and yelled “bad!” (I know, I know!) Then I left the room as he slinked under the kitchen table, his safe spot.
Ray did not touch her and he would not have even if I didn’t pick her up. He had been startled and I knew that he was just giving her a warning, “My legs are sensitive and you pushed my limit” but it scared me, obviously. Afterwards I called my mom and she explained that it was a good sign that he showed this warning. By him doing that it helps us know what his boundaries are. He was not trying to hurt the baby; he just wanted to ask her not to do that. I went back in the kitchen with the baby and saw Ray lying on his mat under the table looking sad. I felt horrible. I shouldn’t have yelled at him, because really what he did wasn’t bad at all. I got a treat and coaxed him out of his safe zone; pet him and let him give the baby a kiss. I’m thankful that my mom has done a tremendous job training Ray and that he is so loving and patient with the baby. Our cats are extremely patient with her as well; I couldn’t ask for more from them.
Yes, what happened shocked and scared me, but after the fact it was a great Learning Experience.
I’m glad Ray shows us signs and that he didn’t bite or hurt her in any way. Some dogs would skip the warning and do harm first and I know that we want him to continue to show us his limits and I know to allow him his space.
As a new mom and new part-dog owner, I encourage people that are introducing a baby to a pet to take it slow and be patient. You can’t expect the animal to understand right away what you want. And you also can’t expect the baby or small child to know how to treat a dog. As my daughter grows up I look forward to teaching her how to treat all animals the right way; with care, caution, and respect. Animals are not toys and they deserve to be treated like a human being, in my opinion.