The Newborn Diaries: How To Keep Dog And Baby Happy

09/03/2011 18:47 | Updated 22 May 2015

People are constantly asking me how Bolshy the bulldog has reacted to Diana's arrival. They are curious to know whether he's been seething with jealousy, excessively attention-seeking or busy plotting the infant's demise.

The truth is, these days, his main interest lies in sniffing his pee.

Of course, he's curious about baby D - he loves to lick her feet and snuggle near her on the couch, and his guard-dogging instinct calls him to attention every time he hears her piercing baby cry. He has such a lovely, eager-to-please disposition that having an infant in the pack (whom he'll eventually be able to play with), is a real highlight for him, although it doesn't stop him from playfully bounding up to unsuspecting toddlers on the street, some of whom are not quite sure what to make of his enormous jaws, wagging tongue and bulky, 25+ kilo frame and subsequently end up running away in tears.

Bolsh still gets plenty of attention, but even if we wanted to neglect him, we couldn't. Bulldogs are known to have their share of health problems and Bolsh is no exception, enjoying trips to the vet on an almost-weekly basis. (And when I say enjoying, I mean it - he loves making friends in the waiting room.)

Bolsh's current list of ailments includes a dermatological condition resembling acne for which he needs pills, an eyelid problem (for which he needs twice-daily drops and a referral to an eye specialist), general wrinkle maintenance (his folds need to be cleaned twice daily, and if there's any inflammation he needs a steroid cream) and routine dog treatments for fleas, worms, etc. Oh, and there's something wrong with the way he's walking now, too. All this is after a worrying few days of hospitalization for a cough/vomiting which happened when Diana was only a few weeks' old. So rest assured, he's getting plenty of TLC.

Diana remains unfazed by Bolshy, can sleep through even his loudest barks (she was exposed to them in the womb for nine months), and is nonplussed when he sniffs her head or tries to lick her fingers and toes. I am happy for the two of them to "play" together under strict supervision, but would never leave Diana unattended with him. He would never do anything to hurt her but his rotund physique and overexcited demeanour (he still seems to think he's the size of a small pup) could spell disaster. This means that unlike lots of babies who spend their early weeks at ground level, Diana is always propped up on a surface, out of Bolshy's reach.

Walking the dog, a challenge in itself since Bolshy is used to taking advantage of me from my vulnerable pregnant days when he would drag me in whichever direction he wanted to go, is now even more of an adventure. Diana is usually strapped onto my body in the baby carrier and the walk is fairly uneventful until Bolshy poos, steps in it, and tries to flee in the opposite direction the moment I bend down to pick it up. This happens an average of three times per walk.

When I bring Diana out in the pram he'll happily jog alongside it, protecting his pack, until he smells a female dog and does everything in his power to reach her while still on the lead. On the plus side, this does mean my arms are starting to get quite muscly.

The main point of contention between the bulldog and the baby is Diana's toys. Bolsh seems to think that everything I bring into this house is for his enjoyment. He'll maul the stuffed teddy bears hanging off Diana's baby rocker at any opportunity, and whenever he is in the vicinity of the baby gym (not often, trust me), he will eagerly trample all over it. He looks extremely dejected when I have to escort him, or more accurately, use all my might to push him out of the room.

Any toy that squeaks or rustles (which, as it turns out, is practically every toy designed for infants), has Bolshy enthralled; when I brought home a knit rattle for baby D, he chased me around the house in a desperate attempt to get it.

I guess we can use this to our advantage, employing a hand-me-down system of toys from Diana to Bolshy once she outgrows them or they break. I also imagine Bolshy will prove very useful when Diana gets to the feeding stage in a few months' time: he loves to hover around the kitchen table and gobble up any stray piece of food that drops to the floor.

How did your dog or cat take to your baby?

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