There is scientific research that states petting an animal reduces blood pressure, anxiety and stress. In our house, having animals also teaches compassion, sharing, love, and friendship. The following is a little story about a girl and her dog.
Since the day we found out we were pregnant with Lily, I have been training our beagle, Molly, to prepare for a baby in the house. Now, as a dog behavioralist, this was a no brainer for me – just as James and I had to prepare to have a baby, so did our animals! Molly is a wonderful, loyal dog but hadn’t had the opportunity to be around many babies. I wanted to set the stage for a beautiful relationship to build between my daughter and my dog. Any time there is an addition to the family, everyone goes through a transition time, including our animals. It was very important to me that Molly understood her position in our family pack would be the same and to make her feel secure with the changes.
The day we finally got to bring our little girl home (she had an 11 day NICU stay) was so exciting! As we walked up the stairs to our little apartment, I handed Lily to James. I wanted to greet Molly with just me before I introduced her to Lily. I was met with an intense butt wiggle and tail wag and even a dog hug! After greeting Molly and calming her down, I brought my tiny daughter into Molly’s field of vision.
Molly could not have cared less about Lily! Ha! Which was absolutely fine with me for right now. As Molly began to get used to this little person always being in my arms, next to me on the couch, rolling around on the floor, and making bizarre noises; she began to settle in to the routine and would lay by Lily and lick her hands and feet.
Then Lily began to crawl. Oh boy were we ecstatic! And as much as we were happy, Molly was not. People forget how ‘scary’ babies are to dogs. They don’t know the rules of how to pet, where to pet, and bear hugs, erratic movements and abrupt tuggings are enough to make even the most mild mannered dog a little on edge. So with each new milstone Lily achieved, we took time to work with Molly and get her comfortable being around Lily. Our house was filled with praise as they both learned how to be around one another.
Now that Lily is almost 2, her and Molly are best friends. I really mean that. Lily looks for Molly, feeds Molly (much to my dismay), shares her toys with her, seeks out interaction in every way possible. Molly enjoys Lily too- she plays with her, licks her up and down (ew) and lays right by her watching over her. She is never far from Lily.
Molly also gives Lily confidence. Lily is not walking yet and it has made her more shy and insecure around others suddenly. A very hard thing for me to see. However, when Molly is with her, she is more relaxed, more comfortable.
Animals bring amazing gifts to humanity and I am witness to this every day. Molly is already bonding with Oz and I cannot wait until Lily can take Molly for her first walk.