How did our dog and baby become best friends? First, back to the beginning: on October 28, 2016, my husband brought Winnie Pace Hayes home and I cried my eyes out.
Yes, Winnie is a dog, and she is our “furst born”. She was part of a litter rescued from a shelter in Kentucky. We adopted her through Homeward Bound Animal Rescue – a nonprofit that fosters puppies that are usually mix breeds.
For the next five years, Winnie traveled with us to Florida, California, New York, New England and everywhere we went. She slept in our bed, ate steak from our plates, and truly lived the good life. And then… I became pregnant. Pretty soon, she started to sense that something was different. She snuggled my bump and gained weight in solidarity with me. Thankfully, she kept me active throughout the pregnancy, which was necessary toward the end when moving was the last thing I wanted to do.
Transitioning our Puppy to Big Sister with Baby’s Scent
I spent months worrying about how Winnie would handle the transition from only child to big sister. I was induced on June 23, 2022. Our son was born via c-section two days later on June 25. I needed extra time to recover in the hospital, so each day my husband brought the baby’s swaddle back to our apartment so she could get used to her brother’s new scent.
Introducing Dog to New Baby on Neutral Territory
When we were cleared to bring our son home, we thoughtfully planned out how to introduce our dog to our new baby. We landed on the parking garage as a setting because it was neutral territory. Winnie would be on her leash and the baby could stay in the Doona. We were shaded from the summer heat under the garage. She was beaming.
The APA recommends never leaving a baby and dog alone. Every dog (and baby!) is different and it’s important to read the dog and situations. In the beginning, Winnie was very interested in sniffing Owen. Now that he is crawling, cruising and playing, he is so interested in her. Owen loves to hold Winnie’s leash during walks, it’s so sweet. They’re best friends and I’m so grateful they have each other!