Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe" and Cottage Grove's Community Development Director, Howard Schesser, along with their daughter and son-in-law, Ariel and Yossa Mam, proudly announce the November, 2012, birth of their first grandchild/child Yossa Howard Mam, Jr. Many new parents worry about the myriad aspects of  "bringing home baby" but how does one "bring home baby" to a 17-pet menagerie that includes a baying Beagle? Two big questions in the Mam household were, "Will the Beagle's baying lull-a-by Yossa Jr. to or from sleep?"; and, "How many 'Ba, Ba, Black Sheep' will mom and dad need to count before they get to sleep?" 

Bringing Home Baby
Spring has arrived with its usual bountiful crop of new babies from both the human and animal kingdoms. Many people who love their pets re-fur to them as "my/our kids", but should they happen to cross over into the dimension of first-time human parenting, they need to be aware of impending dynamic changes in their household.   
Do not stress out about bringing a new baby home to your fur babies because hopefully the introduction will be as easy for you as it was for us when I had Ariel. Howard carried her to each cat for a head sniff and that was that. Although Ariel's crying kept them at a distance and shunning the nursery, they basically progressed from initial curiosity, to boredom, to ignoring her. Except for our female cat, Chanel, whose jealously was apparent in her eyes. It wasn't until Ariel was tall enough to stand on tippy-toes to reach the door handle to open the door for Chanel to go out did Chanel lose her cat-i-tude. "If she can serve my needs, I guess having her around is not so bad after all."

Because Ariel had the foresight to "prepare" Yossa, Jr. for his furry siblings while in utero, her only real concern regarding "bringing home baby" to the three cats, two dogs, several fish tanks' worth of fish, and eight chickens was his tininess, having been born six weeks prematurely.

"I know that babies can hear in utero," said Ariel. "So when we learned that we were expecting, I did not 'Shush' the dogs. I realized the importance of getting my baby accustomed to the noise, especially the constant barking of Lucy, my Beagle. It paid off, because when Junior arrived home from the hospital, he accepted Lucy's enthusiastic barking as a normal occurrence, and even slept/sleeps through it.

I also prepared the dogs for Yossa Jr.'s homecoming by offering them whiffs of one of his 'used' baby blankets. After unwrapping him, I put the blanket into a plastic bag for the trip home to my furry kids, opening the bag upon my arrival so they could become used to his scent.

As far as preparing the cats, I had heard about people placing a diffuser filled with 'happy cat' pheromones in the nursery to keep the cats relaxed, but I decided not to because my cats sleep so much and would feel blessed to have a baby to sleep with. Sure enough, under Mom's and/or Dad's watchful eyes, they sleep beside Yossa Jr., keeping him warm. They 'entertain' him too; he loves to watch them bathe themselves then strut around the room.

On homecoming day, I held 'our bundle of joy' while Yossa Sr. introduced each dog and cat individually to Yossa Jr. The dogs were leashed; the cats in Daddy's arms. As my mom did with me and her cats, we encouraged our pets to sniff the baby, reinforcing to them that he is a part of the family. I think they were trying to figure out the pecking order and when their feeding time would be because they all seemed to lose interest in Yossa Jr. after the first sniff or two.

Sometimes though when the baby is sleeping with us, a pet will wander over to sniff a tiny hand or foot. They consider themselves his guardians, making sure that we are properly caring for him. So adorable! I would not be surprised to see our son grow up to become the next Steve Irwin, pets being such a natural part of his life.

We also include the pets in Yossa Jr's. feeding times, giving them extra pats and conversing with them while I nurse him, and singing their names in nursery rhymes, which they love.  The dogs understand that the baby is part of our pack and that is why he is include on doggy-walks.  They've learned that Yossa, Jr. = Fun Time(s).

Parenting provides Yossa Sr. and me with indescribable joy and has opened up the world for us. We look forward to adding to a little (human) brother or sister for Junior to play with in the near future."


- Substitute baby lotion for your usual hand lotion to familiarize your pet with its scent.
- Play "crying baby" recordings.
- Place double-stick tape on top of the baby's crib railings to prevent dogs from leaning on them.
- Neuter and spay pets to prevent/reduce possible aggression. 
- If you dog has previously displayed aggression toward children, enlist the help of a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. 
- When you "bring baby home" for the first time, have someone else hold the baby while you greet your pet(s).
- Supervise and leash dogs around baby for the first few weeks from a safe distance, allowing them to still view the baby.
- Keep the nursery door closed, especially when the baby is sleeping.
- Prior to baby's arrival, practice the "leave it" and "drop it" commands for those "helpful" dogs who love to "clean up" after baby has dropped toys, pacifier, etc.
- A nursery/dog gate is helpful for supervising doggy "visiting hours".
- Keep the diaper pail's lid securely closed so you don't have the daipers mysteriously reappear by the canine "clean up crew"!

Further tips:

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