Big Brother Casey

Casey's going to be a big brother! Like, really big. Like, it will be years and years till this kid outweighs Casey. I keep getting the question, "So, how do you think Casey's going to adjust?"

Mostly, I think he's going to be fine. I don't worry that he'll be aggressive toward the baby. I don't worry that he'll chew up the baby's stuff or any toys. Babies have climbed in his crate, pulled his ears, taken his toys, and he takes it all in stride. He's an intensely curious dog, so he'll want to investigate everything (and everyone) new, but once these things and people become fixtures, he'll go back to being his old laid-back self. For those of you who have met Casey, I doubt you'd use the words 'laid back' to describe him, but, trust me, when things are 'normal' in the house, he's very laid-back.

He's big, and most of what I worry about is that he doesn't know his own size or strength. When a baby is sitting & patting him, he may lean into him (like he leans into us) and knock the baby over. Not much harm done. When toddlers get excited and squeal and run around, he gets excited too, and runs around and may knock over a kid. He'll get used to the noise and commotion, and eventually not get as excited by it.

Something I am adamant about, though, is teaching kids proper behavior around dogs. Even kids that grow up without dogs in the home should know obvious stuff: Always ask permission before petting a strange dog. Offer the back of your hand for it to sniff before petting it. Don't run away from a dog. Don't put your face in its face. Don't pull/pinch/hit dogs. Don't mess with a dog while it is eating. I'm amazed that even elementary-aged kids I've come across don't have these basic manners.

With any dog, no matter how much I trusted it, I'd watch the baby and the dog intently when they're together. We've already got a tall baby/pet gate that will come in handy with keeping them separated when needed. Josh has been working hard to get a fence put up in the backyard, so we can throw Casey out there to run off energy if he's underfoot too much. We'll keep him on a leash indoors more to be able to quickly pull him away from any bad situation. Mostly, I think he'll be like Nana in Peter Pan- watchful and protective and gentle. I'm looking forward to this baby having a big (furry) brother to grow up around!


ashley @ twentysixcats said...

Aww Casey's going to be a good big brother!!

Having a baby and a pet is harder than I thought it would be. I think dogs take the home dynamic shift better than cats, though. I hope you don't have any issues with Casey! (My parents said their dog reverted back to her puppy ways when I was born. But, they kept her for another 4 years and through another baby so I guess she didn't stay like that. :-))

Teresa said...

I'm sure Casey will do better than Chiste! He's older and seemed like the gentle sort when we were around him. Tina's a lot more like that (at least so far) than Chiste is, though he's doing better.

Joanna said...

I've known so many people whose dogs and cats haven't adjusted well to a new baby- I hope Casey's the exception! He's going to be 4 1/2 when the baby gets here- hopefully that's old enough to get the puppy energy out of him, and young enough to be flexible to the changing household!

Heather said...

Take a blanket to the hospital with you. Wrap the baby in it to get his/her scent. Take the blanket home to Casey so the baby's scent will become a familiar one. I also recommend letting Casey see a baby swing in action before the baby is in it!

Matt said...

I think the challenge for us was that the dog sensed that the new member of the family had trumped her. So she got cranky about him being in her face all the time. We also probably didn't spend as much time focussed on the dog as before.

Playing with the dog and the child at the same time was a component of getting her to mellow out again. This meant intentionally reaching out to the dog while playing with the child, and trying to give the dog less attention while the child was asleep. In other words, we tried to communicate "while the baby is awake and playing, we're all having fun. while he's sleeping, we all do our separate things, and it's not as fun."

I hope you guys have an easier transition than we did.


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