When All Else Fails, Lick ‘Em! (Why Dog Can Be Baby’s Best Friend)

A few months ago

When our babe was still new

There was such a sweet thing

That our puppy would do.

Sorry, I’ve been reading too many Dr. Seuss books lately.

Our first child was four-legged and covered with fur (we still argue about which parent she resembles most). We think she was great practice for having a baby because we treated her like one. We dropped her off at her babysitter’s (my parents) when we left for the day. She had her own “diaper bag” full of toys and treats that we took everywhere she went. She slept in our bed or on our couch. We went on special trips to doggie-friendly spots like the beach or the mountains. In short, she was our child.

Everyone who knew us wondered how our pup would adjust when we brought the baby home. Most assumed she’d be very jealous and would act out with aggression toward the baby or us. We didn’t think this would happen, but we honestly didn’t know how she might behave.

When we first brought our little guy home from the hospital, Lily (our pup) seemed to be afraid of him. She’d hide when we brought him in the room and wouldn’t get too close to him, especially if he was crying.

After a few weeks, Lily seemed to get used to this new little family member, but we still weren’t sure how they would interact together.

One particularly bad night, after my husband and I had spent hours and hours trying our best to get our little one to stop crying, we sat on the floor of the nursery together, holding the little screaming babe. We were exhausted and confused and at a complete loss for what to do with this increasingly, endlessly, loud little boy.

Lily had put herself to bed long before, but I guess she sensed our frustration, because we looked out the nursery door and saw a tired pup trotting groggily down the hall toward us. Lily barely had her eyes open and looked as tired as we felt. She walked up to us, still slumped on the floor, and began licking the back of the baby’s head. Under normal circumstances, we might have jumped up or stopped her, but at that moment we were just too tired to care.

Lily licked him for a few minutes until he stopped crying (hooray!), gave us a tired look that said, “This is how you do it, people,” and trotted back to bed.

My husband and I looked at each other in amazement. Somehow our puppy had managed to do what we could not. She soothed our crying baby.

From that night on, Lily would always come rushing over if the baby was crying or if she felt he needed comfort. It seems her mothering instincts kicked in. These sweet interactions eased all our fears and we are actually really grateful for Lily’s helping hand (or tongue). It only took a few weeks for Lily to assume the role she will likely play all Brayden’s life: constant companion, attentive listener and best friend.


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