Gentle Pets




While I was pregnant, Steve and I were asked a couple of times whether we were going to "thin the herd" of our animals now that a baby was on the way. We thought this was absolutely absurd. We didn't get our furry companions as child-substitutes. They were and are part of our family to whom we have made a commitment for life. And besides, how would we choose who to get rid of and who to keep? Unthinkable. I'm so glad that we stood our ground because an unexpected joy of having a child has been watching him interact with our pets.

Sometimes I nurse on the couch with Silas propped up on a pillow in the football hold. Nikita, our dog, is my constant companion so she can usually be found sitting on the couch with us (It's pretty adorable - she gets up with me for every night nursing and keeps me company). When Silas has had his fill, he'll roll over so that he's lying on his tummy on the pillow with his head turned towards Nikita. He looks at her and looks at her. Studying and drinking in. Stretching his fingers out until the tips are just touching the softness of her white fur. His eyes light up and he smiles with a joy that is so absolutely pure. It brings tears to my eyes every single time.

We make sure that all of his interactions with them are well-supervised, of course. We trust them, but also know that they're animals and aren't too keen on grabby baby hands in their face. We do lots of guiding with his hands trying to teach him "gentle pets." Saying "good morning" to the kitties is a happy part of our daily routine and kitty pets are a pretty surefire way to bring a smile to a fussy baby's face in much the same way that the ceiling fan used to be. But, all they really have to do is enter the room and he's delighted. Such pure love is really a sight that I feel so blessed to behold.

16 comments:

  1. I have been asked the same question. I only have one cat and one dog, but for some reason people sometimes equate being pregnant with getting rid of pets. I just can. not. imagine. They are part of our family and I very much look forward to those "gentle pets" teaching moments! Great post - thank you!

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  2. Our animals have really made the lives of our children richer, always gentle and loving towards them. I was raised with dogs in the family and wouldn´t have it any other way than with these furry family members among us. Love the pics! :-)

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  3. I cannot imagine my home without a pet to love! Our children love having pets and miss them when they are away at school.

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  4. I love the life we have with our pets and children. Wait until Silas is a bit bigger and running around with that dog! Such a joy to watch.

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  5. We have three cats and two dogs and our 15 month old adores them. She's very good with them most of the time. Our chocolate lab is so wonderful with her. She could do anything to him and he doesn't care. The cockapoo, on the other hand, is not happy with little fingers poking in his face or trying to take his toys. I think having animals is very important for children. It teaches them about responsibility and also about death. Many children deal with death for the first time when a beloved pet passes away. It's a part of life, unfortunately. Love the photos of Silas!! : )

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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  6. I could not imagine having to "thin the herd" because of a baby! I love all of my fuzzies dearly and could not imagine not having them. When I was expecting Chase I had one cat and he was there by my side nonstop. And of course Chase's cat (he's had her for six years) is fiercely protective of him. Pets and babes go together!

    Oh Silas, your joyful smile and bright eyes bring me such happiness today.

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  7. Thinning the herd? Wow, that is something I never would have thought of doing either. We have always had pets, they are part of our family too and my children adore them!

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  8. Our daughter has a bassett who is frightened by kids but when they had their daughter, that dog became the best nanny ever! She writes about the two of them frequently on her blog. You may want to check it out... http://maria-rose.blogspot.com/

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  9. We have a herd as well.. We are now down to 2 dogs and 3 cats (well, and 3 ducks, of course), but when Finn was born we had 4 dogs and 3 cats. People always warned us how dangerous those dogs could be with babies....as, just as I expected, all 4 of them were completely gentle, dealing with his hair-pulling and tail-tugging, and even became a bit protective over him. And, as you said, it teaches children so much to have other beings in the house to care for.

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  10. We currently have four dogs, two cats, a rabbit, an iguana, several smaller lizards, a half dozen snakes, two parrots, four turtles, about 3,000 gallons' worth of freshwater fish, our chicks, and all our farm animals. There's a reason our blog is called the Wyatt Zoo! And we've had lots more than that with the kids underfoot. At one point we've had seven adult dogs (three fosters) plus a litter of 10 puppies, PLUS a litter of six kittens. And Trinity and Gabe have shared our home with raccoons, big brown bats, squirrels, and other wild critters, too. There's something special about letting kids grow up with animals. The only animals that I would not recommend with small children are parrots. They are extremely loud, and they make bedtime/naptime/quiet time/life obnoxious and hard to deal with.

    I didn't realize your dog's name was Nikita! That's my Border Collie's name. But she goes by Nikki. She is the best nanny dog in the world. We call her Nana, after the dog from Peter Pan. I trust her with the kids more than I do most people.

    Silas looks so cute with your cats! He's a doll. What are your kitties names?

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  11. "Kitties" should have been plural possessive. Damn grammar late at night.

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  12. there is nothing better than kids who grow up loving and taking care of animals. i can not believe when people get rid of animals because they are having a baby. i have seen this happen many times.

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  13. @Kimberly: 'Kita is the nickname of choice around here. :) Love that she shares the name with your Border Collie and love love love your zoo!

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  14. @Kimberly: And your late night grammar mishaps are forgiven. ;) (They girls' names are Medea, Sappho, and Penelope)

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