Being the animal lover that I am, having pets is no question! Before having Ellie we had two dogs and a tank of fish! There were many times I wasn’t sure how bringing a baby into the picture would work and how the dogs would adjust.
Brutus is our big boy weighing in at 145 lbs. He is special in his own way! He likes his space, he is a resource guarder, he does not like other dogs (Chloe is the only exception), he is very much a protector of his family. He is they type of dog that is perfectly happy to roam our 14 acres without leaving the yard. He likes to leave and go on adventures with us but it does stress him out at the same time. He likes to feel safe and to him safe is at home without any “changes”.
Chloe is our 5 lbs Yorkie who is our easy one! She loves people, loves dogs, loves to do whatever I want to do! Want to take a nap? Sure! Want to go for a walk? She’s ready! Road trip? She’ll ride for hours and love every minute of it! She is getting older and is not so much a fan of younger kids. They move to fast for her and she just isn’t sure of their intentions.
We knew bringing a baby into the picture would be an adjustment for both our dogs but we never hesitated. We would make it work somehow. We had the dogs first, we are not getting rid of them!
How would Chloe like having a baby around? How about as she got older? Would Chloe spend more time alone because she would avoid being around the baby?
What about Brutus? Can he learn to share his space with another human? Will he be gentle with her? Will he share his toys or will we have more of an issue?
Once I had Ellie I was less concerned about teaching the dogs to adapt and more concerned with teaching Ellie how to respect the dogs. She needs to learn they are living animals with feelings too. Showing her when its ok to be in their space and when to give them space, how to be gentle and nice when interacting with the dogs, how to read some of their body language and what to do in response to it. Teaching Ellie how to respect the animals like she should has made the transition so much easier for the dogs. In fact it was pretty dang easy and not much of a transition for them at all!
We then got 16 baby chicks! Ellie loved them! she already knew she had to be gentle, she knew they were a bit timid of her and to let them be and give some space and that she can watch them from a distance! Then we got a bunny! Again, she loves the bunny! More than loves she adores that little girl!
Watching her grow up with animals is so fun and I know is teaching her so much! however, it’s not all fun, unfortunately!
Our first little bunny didn’t make it more than a couple days with us, He was very young and may not have been in the best health. The heat got to the little guy and he ended up dying of heat stroke. Ellie was about 8 months old when this happened and I kept her away from the bunny that day, I am more than confident she doesn’t even know what happened.
This morning while loading up the car to bring Ellie to daycare, Brutus was barking hysterically in front of the chicken coop. I looked over at him and said “What boy? Let the babies be!” When he still didn’t come back to me or change his stance it made me curious. I watched for a minute. Ears up, tail up, body stiff and ready. I knew he wanted to show me something. I walked over to the coop to see what his issue was and to let the chickens out for the day. Once I got there I saw one dead chicken on the ground in the coop and a bunch of feathers. Body all in tact, just laying there, limp, and lifeless. My heart sank, its too quiet for there to be 15 other chickens. I knew we lost all of them. Brutus just kept running the length of the coop run, barking. I ran back to get my husband and told him, we have a problem!
Ellie is now 10 months old, she doesn’t know any better right now. We obviously are not going to show her the murder scene that took place over night with the scattered lifeless chickens. But it made me think, if she were older how would we ever explain this to her?!
Owning animals is so amazing in so many ways! But it can be so so heartbreaking as well. Even Brutus was so distraught from the incident. I don’t want to leave you off on a sad note so to end this post I want to share some reasons it may be good to raise children with pets!
- Kids with pets may spend more time outside!
- Life lessons provided by pets: Life, reproduction, birth, accidents, illness, death, grieving, etc.
- Patience and Self-control
- Friendship and reduced loneliness
- Siblings being able to bond over the shared love for pets
- Sharing and personal space
- Improved Self-esteem
- Empathy and compassion
- Joy and happiness!