Childrearing

My Dog Doesn’t Trust My Kids — And I Wouldn’t Either

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twin boys with dogLast year, we upended our dog’s life by adding twins to our family. As with most ten-year-olds, Miss Beasley was not expecting to suddenly have to start sharing Mom and Dad’s attention at such an advanced stage of life, and her reaction upon the babies’ arrival from the hospital could best be described as “intense indifference”. But that was nearly a year ago, back when the kids were listless little potatoes and not crawling, tottering, dog-adoring maniacs. There is an uneasy truce in our household, and I’m just as nervous about it as the dog is.

The dog-baby relationship is not, of course, entirely one-sided. I think Her Royal Beez of Beezington has gained a few pounds since the kids started eating (and flinging) solid foods, and she was severely disappointed when my son ended his stint as a bottomless spit-up fountain. But when food is, well, off the table, Beasley is as disinterested in baby attention as ever – but they feel quite the opposite about her.

The kids want to pat Beasley’s back and put their fingers in her nose. They want to swat at her tail when it wags. They want to pull up on her on. They want to shriek with joy when she rolls on her back, and they want to tickle the fuzz between her toes. They think that her toys look pretty cool to chew on, and despite her having about five toys and them having approximately eight trillion, they would prefer to chew on the nearest Kong, rope pull, or bone. They want to snuggle Beasley on her bed and follow her into her favorite corner. And Beasley is an old, set-in-her-ways dog, and what Beasley wants is to be left alone.

During my whole pregnancy I was looking forward to taking adorable pictures of babies and dog (like the one in the utterly unrealistic and totally unfairly cute stock photo above), but that’s hardly happened. Instead of piling the pooch and the kids into the same frame, I get to spend my time working to keep them separated. If I stop to take the socks out of one kid’s mouth and attempt to return them to her feet, the other one makes a beeline for his favorite canine who’s trying to sleep on the couch. When I pick one up to move him to his high chair for lunch, the other tries to mount a sneak attack to take the bone out of poor Beasley’s mouth. There is a lot of NO NO and GENTLE PLEASE and WHAT ARE YOU DOING OH MY GOD going on in my house at any given time of day, as well as no shortage of stints in Baby Jail the playpen after the latest egregious assault on the dog’s personal space.

Beasley has never reacted badly beyond a sharp bark when she wants to escape the family room for someplace quieter, but she’s never, ever alone with the kids. I don’t think she’d hurt them, but even old, trusted dogs can surprise you, and I’m not taking any chances. It’s not so much that I don’t trust her, it’s that she doesn’t trust them. And when it comes to the dog, I don’t trust them, either. Beasley was my only ‘kid’ for ten years, and she deserves better than to get a finger in the eye or to lose a tiny fistful of fur at the whim of my adorable but tyrannical twins.

(Image: vgm/Shutterstock)