Before there were three rambunctious kids, there were two gigantic dogs…
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The idea of big dogs around little babies can be terrifying to some. But to big dog owners – it’s no different than introducing a baby to any other member of the family. These dogs were our first babies and they taught us what it truly meant to become parents. When they were sick we lost sleep over it. We looked for different ways to make them happy, whether it was a treat or playing fetch or scratching that perfect spot behind the ear. We did everything in our power to train them to be the best they could be and were embarrassed when they misbehaved. We dressed them up and proudly showed them off. They drove us crazy some days but mostly we couldn’t even remember what life was like before them.
I always knew that human babies would come eventually and that they would be there to watch them grow up. Throughout all three of my pregnancies, they protected me. They sat beside me and sniffed at my growing belly. They investigated the nursery and the weird cage-like crib. They weren’t big fans of the baby gates everywhere but they enjoyed the new squeaky toys. They knew something was about to happen, even if they didn’t exactly know what.
But I had my fears…
I trusted my dogs with my entire heart, but they were animals nonetheless and they had animal instincts. They may not have known it but they were as dangerous as loaded guns. One time, and one time only, I saw them attack another dog in self defense and that image has stuck in my head. If they were provoked enough, or trying to defend themselves, it would end very badly for the other guy. And I did not want “the other guy” to be one of my children (or anyone else’s for that matter).
I also knew that if they caught on that I was nervous – it would make them nervous too. So I tried to educate myself in order to feel more confident and get over my own fears. I searched online, read books and watched training videos.
In the days before I went into labour, we spent a lot of time walking outside together, trying to get contractions started. I was glad to be able to get so much one on one time with them, knowing things would soon change. And then my water broke. I said a silent goodbye to them as I knew their lives and ours would never be the same.
We spent three days in the hospital and the entire time all I thought about was the dogs at home, scared and alone. During my stay, my husband stopped by the house to feed them and let them out and he brought along a blanket that the baby had been wrapped in so the dogs could get used to his scent. When we finally introduced our son to them, we made sure it was very controlled, quiet and calm. We held the baby out so they could smell him, which they did, and then they instantly lay down at his feet. It reminded me of the scene from The Lion King where the animals bow down to baby Simba.
We’ve introduced each of our babies to the dogs in the same way and each time they have lay down in submission.
Somehow they just knew. They knew this was our baby and that they were a part of this family now. They knew it was their job to protect them and they have never ever failed us in that department.
The dogs listen to the children better than they do to me now because the children never doubt them. The children have blind trust that these dogs will never hurt them. They are NEVER nervous around them. I’ve actually seen them stick their hands entirely into the dogs’ mouths to retrieve a ball without even thinking twice about it. I, on the other hand, still hold my breath watching them yank on the dogs’ tails or ears.
I watch them closely and I always will – but all I ever see is these big dogs completely submit to these little babies.
Meekah & Marlee are 9 year old sisters from the same litter. Meekah was given to us when she was 12 weeks old and we took in her sister, Marlee, a few months later when her owners could no longer care for her. They are purebred Presa Canario (Perro de Presa Canario) which is rare breed – we’ve only encountered a handful of people who have ever heard of it. Click here for more information on their breed or please leave a comment!