by Chris Huskey
As owners of six rescue dogs, my wife Catherine and I decided that perhaps we should try our hands at a tiny human. After all, they can’t be much more difficult than puppies right? Upon finding out we were pregnant, we instantly went into first-time parent mode. The nursery had to be perfect, the house had to be spotless and the puppies had to be prepared to accept their slightly less-furry sibling into the pack. Catherine swears that Jeter, our Jack Russell mix, knew she was pregnant the whole time. Jeter would lie on her belly and give extra sniffs and kisses. Dogs can detect cancers and other sicknesses, so I firmly believe they can recognize a tummy tumor!
Abigail Elizabeth Huskey came into the world at 4:28pm on April 22, 2017. After a few days in the hospital, it was time for us to introduce Abigail to her siblings, protectors, playmates and friends. We heard that we should take a blanket from the hospital that Abigail used and introduce it to the puppies in order to get them used to her smell. Anyone who has ever experienced taking home their first kid knows that we were so frazzled that we were lucky to remember to bring the baby home with us! I guess you could say this was our first of many times where we decided to “just wing it.”
Safety was obviously our top priority. As much as we love and trust our dogs to protect and love us, we have heard horror stories of dogs attacking newborns. We made sure that we did not leave the baby alone with the dogs, especially in the early weeks. We encouraged them to spend time with the baby, sniff and give kisses to let them feel at ease with their new pack member. Here we are at week seven, and they have never once shown anything but curiosity and gentleness to baby Abigail.
As new parents and dog lovers, we had hopes and dreams of filling social media with pictures of our baby sleeping on a dog or of one of the them constantly by her side always protecting her. But this is real life, and our dogs already had five other siblings. They were very curious about this new screaming potato and curious as to why it did not want to sniff their butts. Early on Brooklyn, our Great Dane/Labrador mix, would run to her crib when she would start crying and stare intently. Was it a connection that these two shared? Would we finally have that adorable relationship where they would snuggle and be best friends?! Not even close. After a few weeks of this, Brooklyn became immune (annoyed?) to the crying and would not even lift an eyebrow at the sound.
My wife and I foster through Oconee Regional Humane Society and took a two-month hiatus to get into some sort of a routine before taking on this responsibility once again. This past weekend we picked up our first foster in awhile, a 10-week-old sweetheart named Camry. Camry took an instant interest in Abigail and will even nap on her nursing pillow while we feed the baby. Honestly, the puppy has taken more interest in Abigail than her own fur siblings. Perhaps Camry feels more of a connection with Abigail because they are both just figuring out this great big world with their humans leading the way.
Our best advice as new parents and crazy dog people is not to expect anything, and enjoy the little moments that melt your heart. Do not spend your time behind the lens of a camera trying to get the next viral video or “awww” inspiring picture. As Abigail gets bigger and able to interact more with the pups, we will certainly keep a close eye to ensure a curious tail pull or ear tug doesn’t result in a reaction by the dogs. We also have visions of her developing a more interactive relationship with them by playing more, helping to feed and bathe them, and maybe even painting their toenails bright pink. There is a very slim chance that any of those moments will make it to social media though, because we will be too busy loving our baby girl and six rescue dogs that all need our patient love and tender kindness to ensure that the nine of us stay happy and healthy.