Since I’ve gotten pregnant, the stack of books to read on my bedside table has been growing faster than my belly.Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and What to Eat When You’re Expecting to Bringing Up Bebétaunts me each night when I go to bed. My dreams have become a jumble of birthing positions and baby sleep techniques.
The two books I have managed to read in full are less about pregnancy, childbirth, and raising children than they are about my dog.
And Baby Makes Four and Tell Your Dog You’re Pregnant are two titles that I’ve read cover to cover in an attempt to ready Rusty for his imminent baby sister -– yes, she’s a girl! We even brought Rusty to our 20-week ultrasound, where we discovered the gender and saw her little skeleton moving around inside me. Rusty seemed unimpressed.
According to And Baby Makes Four, the dogs who have the strongest reactions to a new family member are those with an inflated sense of status. It’s harder for these fur babies to be demoted to a lower level of the attention hierarchy when the mini-Skeletor (pictured above) joins the family.
The book suggests that if your dog has any of the following signs, it’s time to “Implement status reduction program” before baby arrives.
1. Does your dog sleep in bed with you?
Yes, Rusty does. In fact, he often takes over large sections of the overall bed area and covers. It’s strange considering that he’s 20 pounds and, though my husband and I both outweigh him by a factor of six, Rusty has the run of our queen-sized mattress. I’m curious to see how this will affect an eight-pound baby, who will most likely be joining the family bed.
2. Does your dog pull on the leash?
Rusty is always in a hurry to get wherever he’s going (which is usually to a tree that he wants to pee on). So yes, he absolutely pulls on the leash. The books suggest walking with an empty stroller, or putting a “fake baby” in a carrier, to train the dog to walk nicely when the baby’s there. But we just moved to a new neighborhood. With neighbors. Who I may see again. I’m not sure that I’m ready to make that kind of impression.
3. Is your dog possessive of food or toys?
Actually, Rusty is very accepting when we take food out of his mouth. In fact, there have been many times when he’s come trotting over to me at the park with a chicken bone he dug up from somewhere under the bushes. You’d think he’d learn by now that I’m just going to take it away.
I, however, am very possessive of my food and toys, so I am not pleased when I come home to find he’s broken into my snack bag or eaten the cover off my Prenatal Work Out DVD. Yes, once again, Rusty has destroyed pregnancy-related media (see the baby book he ate last month). Either that, or he has it out for Gabrielle Reece.
4. Does your dog answer to commands only when he wants to?
Yes. When we tell Rusty to sit or come, he seems to view it as more of a suggestion than a command. It’s as if he adds the caveat “if you feel like it” to every direction, unless he can see that we’re holding a treat. If I have a treat in hand, he does almost exactly what I say. This means having lots of treats on hand or not really caring whether Rusty obeys me.
I guess if the command is, “Put down the baby,” I may have a stronger opinion about whether he does what I say. Sounds like we need to work on this.
5. Does your dog win all games?
I was surprised by this question, as we are big into games at my house, but we don’t usually include the dog. I imagine that if we let him compete in Scrabble, he would probably lose, as my husband and I are both pretty competitive. He may have a chance at beating me in Settlers of Catan, though, since he’s quite a good little negotiator.
Out of these five questions, Rusty gets a three yeses and two nos. This makes me think we have work to do yet. But I’m still not walking around the neighborhood with a fake baby. I have to draw the line somewhere.
Does your dog have any of these “inflated sense of status” issues? What have you done to address them? Let me know in the comments!
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