New Baby Adjustments…for the Dog(s)!


When my son was born last July, we had two dogs – Gunner, a 10-year-old greyhound and Ruby, a 6-year-old treeing walker hound.  Prior to my son’s arrival, Gunner and Ruby got all the attention in the world.  Working from home, they had constant companionship (from me) as well at each other.

Two and half months before my son’s arrival, Gunner was diagnosed with histiocytic sarcoma, a rare and very aggressive cancer.  Gunner fought the good fight for as long as he could until he lost his battle only two and a half weeks after our son was born.  Bringing our new baby into the world and losing our first “baby” less than three weeks later was incredibly challenging.


The moment I walked into the house with our son, when we arrived home from the hospital, Gunner and Ruby were there to greet me and whatever strange contraption (car seat) our husband was carrying around.  I didn’t expect to feel so guilty!  Already, my attention has shifted, and it needed to, to take care of this new precious life.  Although we couldn’t prepare mentally for the void that Gunner left behind, I wanted to make sure that Ruby felt the love and attention she was used to.

We were all trying to find our way in this new world, my husband and I sleep-deprived, trying to learn the many different cries of our son, starting what would be an ongoing battle with breastfeeding, mourning the loss of our sweet Gunner, and trying to keep Ruby engaged, was really tough.

Ruby was thrown into a new reality; her old buddy is nowhere to be found, this new “small, hairless, constantly crying pet” smelled different, looked different, and was certainly taking up a lot of mom and dad’s time!  I had to find a way to make sure Ruby got the attention she deserved, given the radical shift in reality.

I found that I couldn’t give Ruby as much attention as I used to, so I tried to make up for it.  When sitting on the couch with my son, I call her over for ear scratches, rather than waiting for her to come over and demand them 🙂  An extra treat here and there; we also started taking her to doggie daycare regularly so she had the chance to socialize with other dogs, get some energy out, and have a change in scenery. We take Ruby on walks with our son when we can, we give her extra loving when our son goes to bed, and now that our son is much more playful and alert, he is VERY interested in Ruby.  When he reaches for her, she usually slowly slinks away, but I’ve noticed recently she is starting to show a lot more interest in him as he starts to pat her and touch her fur.

baby and dog

I’m certain my son and Ruby will be inseparable in the years to come.  The adjustment with a new baby is always difficult, and even harder when you have other pets to consider.  Be mindful that this is a new world for your dog as well, and even just a little change in routine can throw a dog out of his or her element.  It sounds silly, but an extra treat, pat, or walk can really make all the difference to your pooch!  It did for our Ruby!