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Living in the Moment with a Baby and a Dog

We have an Australian Shepherd named Yuba in our family.  Boy, has his life changed since we had a baby.  He has had to learn to share our attention with BabyC.  Still, there is one thing he knows he can always count on every day:  A walk to the park to play frisbee.

Of course, Yuba has to share even this park outing with BabyC.  This isn’t so bad once we get out there, but what frustrates Yuba is that it takes so darn long to get a baby mobilized, especially now that the cool weather necessitates socks, shoes, jacket, and hat.  This frustrates me, too, but I try to be patient as I get BabyC ready to go. Yuba is ready at all times to go to the park.  All I have to do is mention any of the following words:  park, out, frisbee, go, ready… you get the picture.  But of course by now I know better than to say any of those words out loud – even spelling them out is risky.  Certain actions can trigger Yuba’s excitement too:  taking the house keys from the hook by the door, putting on socks, and of course, getting BabyC dressed.  Once Yuba gets any inkling that a park trip is in the near future, he gets so excited he can hardly contain himself.  He becomes glued to my every step, panting with excitement.  If I seem to get sidetracked, he’ll let out a little whine lest I forget the mission.

This gets pretty annoying, but I try to imagine how Yuba must feel.  After all, this is THE moment he lives for, every day.

“Park?!  Now?!  OK, yes, NOW!  Let’s do this thing!  Can you hurry things up?  There’s probably a cat sunning herself on the sidewalk, right now, getting complacent with nobody to chase her!  There could be squirrels having a picnic lunch at the playground!  There could be frisbees flying through the air with nobody to catch them!  We need to go NOW!  Mom?  C’mon!”

Australian shepherds, by the way, are herding dogs.  One of the ways that Yuba deals with his frustration that things are not moving quickly enough is to run circles around us.  He still has a few things to learn about babies.

BabyC seems to be oblivious to this excitement.  Her perception of time is a little different.  She lives in the moment, and at this moment, she is not interested in putting on her shoes.  She is interested in chewing on her shoes.  She is not interested in putting on her hat.  She is interested in playing peek-a-boo with her hat. Yuba is not entertained.  He will never understand this child.  How is it that someone so slow and inefficient gets to run the show?

Finally, we are ready. Walking to the park proceeds at what I can only describe as a frantic dawdle, if that makes any sense.  Yuba moves very fast, but he has to check on a lot of things along the way.  He has to smell the fire hydrant and run through the grass where it gets tall and roll in the grass where it has been freshly mowed and patrol for squirrels along the way.  And he has to poop.  At least once.

Getting to the park every day takes a surprising amount of time, effort, and patience.  But it is worth it, for all of us.

Yuba gets his exercise.  I run him until he collapses in happiness.

BabyC examines the grass and the fallen leaves and even tries taking a few steps on her own.

She’s still living in the moment, one moment at a time.

How did your dog handle the introduction of a new baby to your family?

  1. Thanks for the great post, Alice, I am also curious to know how is the kitty handling BabyC’s existence 🙂


    October 21, 2011
    • To be honest, I think Shasta had a harder time adapting to having Yuba in the family than the arrival of BabyC. We had a lot of problems with her marking things around the house when Yuba moved in, but nothing like that with BabyC. She mostly ignored her until recently. Now BabyC is really into Shasta, and I think Shasta likes the attention. Sometiems BabyC is a little rough, but Shasta has been great with her and just runs away if things get out of hand, and BabyC is learning about gentleness. Maybe I’ll write a post about Shasta too:)


      October 21, 2011
  2. First off, Alice your blogs are so wonderful, entertaining and informative. Thank you for doing this, and doing it so well. Second, We have two Golden Retreivers that have certainly, in some ways, had to take a back burner since Baby Miller came along. They became mostly outside dogs this summer (mainly because it was hard enough for me to keep up with sweeping the floors while taking care of a new baby, and dog-hair-tumbleweeds didn’t help anything). But my girls were my babies first, and they adore Miller. His favorite thing to do each morning is to stroll in his walker over to the greenhouse doors and watch “dog tv” as we call it. The girls get excited to see him and everybody is happy. We take at least one long walk around the farm every
    evening, Mommy and Miller, Cy and Evie. We all find ourselves trying to figure out this new lifestyle together, and it’s so important to me that doggies and baby all feel special with lots of attention doing the things they love.


    October 21, 2011
    • Esmee, I love that Miller watches “dog TV!” BabyC also loves Yuba. Her first real laughs were at Yuba. I don’t know why she thinks he is so funny – maybe because he always looks like he is grinning? And yesterday, BabyC looked at Yuba and said, “doggie!” which was her first word after “mama” and “papa.” And your dogs are so lucky that they have a farm to roam. Yuba would be so jealous, if he even knew that some dogs live like that. I hope that when we finally buy a house we can have more space of our own for him to run and play. I know that Yuba will LOVE BabyC once she learns how to throw a ball for him. Right now, she just picks up the slimy tennis ball and puts it in her mouth!


      October 21, 2011
  3. Yes! Very familiar with the frantic dawdle.
    That is one gorgeous baby … and one cute dog too.


    October 21, 2011
    • Thanks Jen! I’m sure you can relate to the frantic dawdle, as well as the cute dog and kid:)


      October 21, 2011
  4. enkidu97 #

    We had four dogs when our daughter was born. I can’t tell you the number of people that said four dogs and a baby would never work, especially four dogs that didn’t spend a lot of time around kids. Well, my daughter is now 3 years old and the dogs and her are great friends.

    They all handled her arrival differently. The oldest dog, Enkidu (11 yrs old), pretended that the baby didn’t exist. Our 7 year old crazy collie-aussie mix, Fozzie, fell in love with her at first sight. He kept watch at the foot of her crib from moment one. When she got older he let her pile plastic play-food and action figures on his fur as he lounged next to her. Our corgi-chow mix Boomer wasn’t interested in the baby until she started eating (and dropping) solid food. Our youngest pup Winry (4 years old) was scared of the baby, and once daughter learned to crawl this pup spent a lot of time learning the art of mobile-baby avoidance – but even Winry grew to love daughter and now they hang out on the sofa together.

    The saddest thing was losing Fozzie this year to cancer. It happened suddenly, right after our daughter turned 3. Nine months later, daughter still asks about him and if she can visit him in “doggie heaven.” She frequently calls him on her play telephone to tell him what she is doing, and tells him that she misses him, and asks him if he is at work (lol). We lost Fozzie too soon; he and our daughter were meant to be BFFs for a while longer. 😦


    October 28, 2011
    • Enkidu – Sorry, I just realized that I never responded to your comment! Thanks for sharing this story about your large family! I don’t know if I could handle 4 dogs myself, but I know that they are all family, so I love hearing how each responded to the baby and found its new place in your expanding family. And I’m so sorry to hear about Fozzie. He and your daughter clearly had a strong bond, and it must be so hard for your daughter to understand his loss. It sounds like she is using “play therapy” to handle her feelings though, which is really sweet.

      I came back to look at this post (and realized that I hadn’t responded to your comment), because my father-in-law just sent me this message and wanted me to share it with you:

      “I just finishing reading your “Living in the Moment with a Baby and a Dog” entry on your Science of Mom blog. I noted in particular Enkidu97’s entry on 10-28 wherein she talks about her daughter missing her pet Fozzie. Alice, since I have no way to directly contact Enkidu97, would you please refer to her this web page It may help her daughter as well as herself. And if Enkidu97 would like the book, here’s a link to that, as well”

      Very sweet, I thought:)
      Girl writes letter to God about deceased pet and receives a response.


      November 10, 2011
  5. Yes, the frantic dawdle…I may consider starting a band with that name that includes my dog, my two cats, and my little one. Right now Amina is still snoozing and Ruthie kitty is curled up on her feet keeping them warm. Amina is fascinated with the animals, her face lights up with a huge grin when they show up to visit her. I am thankful that she is surrounded by so much furry love – even though there are days when the hat-booties-leash-poo bag-binky-pizzacrust-cell phone-cross walk mambo gets the better of me.


    April 4, 2012

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