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Adapting Our Pets to Baby: An Update!

coffee table | baby bouncer | ottoman | pillow | dining chairs | vintage rug (similar)

See part I of this post here, where we share our pre-baby preparation experience.

Our pups, Jack and CC, run this household. Period. Before we buy anything – pillows, rugs, throws, furniture – we first ask ourselves, will this hold up to Jack and Chunk? (We’ve taken a deep dive into that topic in the past, if you’re interested!) So in preparation of the newest bundle that we’d be bringing home, we worked with Rendy, a highly recommended trainer on child + pet adaptation. In the months leading up to sweet Lucy’s arrival, we committed ourselves to the homework that we were given, everything from long (and more frequent) family walks, creating ‘safe’ zones, blanket boundaries and greeting anyone that comes through our door. By the end of last year, we were feeling mentally prepared, and we noticed a difference in their behavior and overall moods. Lucy’s arrival was only a handful of weeks away, and we began slowly shifting our attention to finalizing the nursery, extra date nights (while it was just the two of us!) and enjoying the holiday season.

Fast forward to mid-January, and we welcomed Lucy into our world! Those first few days of her life while we recovered in the hospital are still some of my very favorite memories. We cradled and cuddled her teeny peanut body nonstop, we squeezed her little hands and we kissed her sleepy eyes. Thinking back to the day we left for home still feels surreal; we came back to a quiet house, and while I showed Lucy her nursery for the first time, Scott left to pick up our dogs from the sitter. Just as we’d been told to do by so many, he brought along her hospital cap so they could get a good sniff, and when Jack and CC came barreling into the house, I held Lucy.

nursing pillow | X pillow

I should preface the rest of our experience by saying that Jack has always been a bit of a special boy. To start, he has anxiety issues, which is why it was so important for us to work with Rendy in the first place. He also has a medical condition that is only stabilized by a low dose of steroids, which in turn creates more anxiety, and to top it all off – not that this is a bad thing – he loves everyone. So much! Too much. Scott always jokes that Jack loves too hard, which simply means that he doesn’t know his own strength. He’s a sweetheart that wants to greet you with his paws, a good sniff and endless hello! barks. When anyone walks through our front door, he’s saying, pay attention to meHis training with Rendy had us seeing phenomenal improvement in his greeting skills, but until we brought home the baby, we couldn’t predict how he might react to such a tiny nugget.

All this to say, that first night in our own home was hard. Really hard. Jack couldn’t understand who this new person was, and because we didn’t understand what he was trying to communicate, the tension levels in the house grew (and grew and grew!) in a matter of minutes. He whined and squealed, and he made high pitched noises that we’d never heard in our lives – and thank goodness, we haven’t heard since. While locking eyes with us, he would tremble and back away. He danced with his paws, and for the longest time, we felt we were at a stalemate. I refused to look Jack in the eye, and we later learned that this was his way of asking us, what should I do, what should I do?!

The night ended with me in tears, a confused Scott, a scared Jack and a sweet baby that slept through the entire experience. Meanwhile, CC had retreated to our bedroom, and I worried that she, too, was feeling overwhelmed. Side note: It’s important for me to say that we never once felt unsafe, but I want to share this honest conversation with you in case our story can prepare or help anyone else in a similar pet + baby situation.

Because it was so late in the evening at this point, we emailed Rendy an SOS. Unfortunately for us, she was out of town and unable to come over for a week. In my postnatal haze, this seemed like an eternity! For every day that went by, Jack’s reaction to the sudden change veeery slowly improved as his new normal began to sink in, but we were far from okay. We made sure to record the strange noises he made, and we took notes on his unusual behavior. Until we could meet with Rendy again, we allowed Jack to retreat when he needed his alone time (keep in mind that our his home was also full of houseguests), and we never once tried to force a meeting between him and Lucy. In the meantime, we called our vet and asked if they could suggest an anti-anxiety medicine that would be safe for Jack, and hours later, our buddy was popping Trazodone, otherwise known as God’s gift to Jack (and in turn, our family). The Trazodone calmed him down, and for the first time since Lucy’s arrival, we started to see a glimmer of the Jack we’ve always known. Another side note: Jack’s vet also let us know that this prescription will need to build up in his body to work effectively, so together, we’ve come up with a maintenance dosage that works for him.

Fast forward to Rendy’s home visit. We explained all the behavior we’d seen unfolding, and because we purposely skipped a dose of his medicine, she also witnessed a mild amount of it from the comfort of our couch. My biggest concern was Jack’s use of Trazodone, although why, I’m not exactly sure. We prefer to try natural methods first (we tried these composure treats with little improvement), but Rendy assured us that not only was Trazodone perfectly safe, we needed to think of it like this: This vet prescribed pill would allow Jack to be a dog again. If he’s way up here, this is what’s going to help him come back to here. Without his special treat, he can’t think like a dog; he can’t be Jack. Rendy encouraged us to continue our training, and she assured us that we were already doing the right things. She told us to stop being so hard on ourselves – these things take time. We needed that reminder.

Every week since, Jack continues to amaze us. We’re mindful to tell him how well he’s doing, and he responds with a thump of his tail and a nudge against our legs. Today, he can come right up to Lucy, give her a soft lick and walk away. With his back turned, he’ll rest up against her, but he won’t disturb her. If one of us is holding her, he’ll let us know that he’s available to us by just being nearby. We can play with her on the floor, and Jack will lay down as close as possible – without touching. To think of his first reaction to Lucy compared to now is night and day, and even that’s a huge understatement. We’re so (so so so) proud of how far he’s come.

Throughout all of this, we’re continuing to do our best to keep the pups busy. We go on walks. We reward them for good behavior. We tone down the overall household energy if anyone gets visibly concerned. Both Libby (our kitty) and CC have responded to our expanding family with endless cuddles, and CC’s favorite spot in the house is where Lucy is.

We always knew that Chunk would be a great momma, and she continues to prove us right. Since the beginning, if Lucy cries (or coos or grunts), CC will stare at us expectantly until we soothe the baby. And if Lucy is in her crib and we’re in another room, Ceese will track us down until we follow her to the nursery. It’s adorable to see the relief wash over CC’s face once she feels that the baby has been taken care of!

Jack’s new favorite activity is the same as ours – bath time! Every day, we look forward to Lucy’s bath. Her joy for bath time is contagious, and the cuteness is overwhelming, but what’s better yet is watching Jack watch her. If it’s 7PM, you know where to find our family:

shower curtain | baby tub

Thank you to everyone who has been asking us about Jack and CC! We hope that this update fills you in on their lives lately. If you have any other questions, please ask away! We want to have an open and friendly conversation, especially as we’ve learned so much in these first two months of Lucy’s life. And if you have tips and tricks that have kept the peace in your family, we’re all ears.

For our home’s sources, most items can be found on the Shop Our House page!

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  • Ellen from Ask Away Blog3.8.18 - 6:58 AM

    I am so glad you took the time to do a post about this because it’s SUCH an important topic for new moms and for dog owners. Sidenote – I love the photo above your couch!ReplyCancel

  • erin3.8.18 - 7:10 AM

    aw this is so amazing! i love that you are working so hard to ensure that everyone in the family is safe and happy! i think that’s extremely important. There are people out there that once they have a baby, their pets aren’t even part of the family anymore….and that makes me sad. I’m so glad that you’re making this work, and putting a ton of effort in! this is EXACTLY the kind of awareness that needs to be out there! so much love for you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • Shauna3.8.18 - 8:30 AM

    Thank you thank you thank youuuuu for this update. I started following your blog because of your doggos, and since then have become a dog mom myself. Louie is a high energy pittie too, I really appreciate you sharing that it wasn’t easy, but it all worked out fine, and sometimes you just have to put in extra effort for your fur family. So many families would just give up and try to rehome them, without giving them time and guidance (and professional training!) You guys rock. This makes me feel a lot better about eventually having a kiddo.

    BTW, Pet Releaf brand CBD treats and a calming food additive called Peaceful Pooch from Healthy Dogma brand have worked wonders for Louie in super high stress situations like traveling. That, and a shitton of exercise. LOL. :) Lots of love to Jack and CC. <3ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:20 AM

      Thank you for those recs! And no joke about the exercise. We can’t wait for it to finally be WARM so these pups (and us!) can handle much longer walks!ReplyCancel

  • Deb3.8.18 - 8:33 AM

    Congrats! We had two greyhounds when our oldest was born. Our female followed the baby everywhere and would “guard” him by facing the door when we were in his nursery. She was wonderfully maternal with both our kids. Our male sulked, but he was still peeved from when we adopted our second dog a year prior ;) We just made sure his crate remained his safe area where he could go when he’d had enough of them. Once they were moving past the toddler stage and were able to pet and love on him, he appreciated the kids.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:21 AM

      That’s a great point about the safe area. CC also has her safe area (her crate), whereas Jack is a bit more of a nomad. When he was stressed, he would go to our bedroom and sleep on his bed, and if we needed to, we’d close the blinds and close the door most of the way so he felt comfortable.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel3.8.18 - 8:52 AM

    You guys are amazing! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this post (I was even telling my fiance the other day about your first post about all the prep you were doing with the dogs, LOL). We unexpectedly and traumatically lost our younger dog, Maisy, last year, but she had some anxiety/leash reactivity issues that we (and she!) had put a lot of work into fixing. In December we adopted another dog, and she’s so great with us but has some anxiety issues with strangers (it’s like I’m drawn to dogs that are as anxious as I am… heh). We definitely want to have kids eventually (and I just realized I’m getting old, so, uh, should probably start trying soon-ish?) so I’m always really interested in this stuff. Thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:23 AM

      Sorry to hear about Maisy! And when the time comes for you, I can recommend working with a trainer enough. Rendy changed everything for us, and she made us consider things we’d never thought of before!ReplyCancel

  • Tanja3.8.18 - 9:17 AM

    Thank you for sharing your family experience. Also as Erin mentioned, so many people don’t prioritize the needs of their pets post baby and I love that you and Scott are working so hard to make everyone happy and healthy in your home.

    Keep up the great work. We all love following along with you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:24 AM

      This is such a kind comment, thank you, Tanja.ReplyCancel

  • Jane3.8.18 - 9:25 AM

    Wow, that sounds like such a stressful start and I’m so glad things are coming to a good new balance. It’s so hard when we can’t talk to dogs! (Though that doesn’t stop me trying;)

    I was using those composure supplements with Amber and thought they were helping her anxiety but they don’t seem to help anymore. I’m going to ask our vet about anxiety meds. Like you, I was reluctant to do that – but why? I’ve been reading about human brain chemistry as I figure out my own issues and realize now that some humans and pets literally have brains that fire a little incorrectly, and many medications have been researched and developed to drastically improve our lives. And many stem from “natural” sources, too. So there’s a balance to be had there as well.

    Thanks for sharing all this, I think it’s super important for people to see what improvemebt can be had. Too many pets end up in shelters after a baby joins the family and that’s so sad!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:25 AM

      You hit the nail on the head, Jane! Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Jack honest to goodness needs his medicine to improve his life. He couldn’t think clearly without it.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria3.8.18 - 9:45 AM

    You are loving so well. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Joelle3.8.18 - 9:50 AM

    Oh please try to get a video of CC leading you to the room! I know…not your first priority with a crying baby :)

    My twin girls will be 7 next week, and while the dog can deal with them, I don’t think she ever came around to really loving them like we do! (we brought the girls home when our dog was about 7) When they are being too rowdy or loud, she simply looks at me with those eyes! and then leaves for another room.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:26 AM

      Haha, I will have to try! It’s always the sweetest thing. Her face is like, mooooommmmm do you hear what I hear? Let’s go already!ReplyCancel

  • Meredith3.8.18 - 10:01 AM

    Thank you SO much for this. I’m 37 weeks pregnant and nervous about bringing my baby home to my 12 year old basset hound. I think she’s more like CC (her name is actually CeCe!), but she’s been the sole focus for a long time and I’m not sure how she’s going to react to sharing the attention. What you went through with Jack sounds so unnerving; I’m glad you’re working through it and sharing your experience.ReplyCancel

  • Kate S.3.8.18 - 10:13 AM

    I rarely comment though I am a longtime reader, I just had to comment on this sweet post. The way you have always written about your pets (and now little Lucy) warms my heart. That bathtime photo is precious. I don’t need to meet you to know you are the very best sort of people. I am so happy for your family.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 10:26 AM

      So sweet, thank you, Kate! We appreciate your words. :)ReplyCancel

  • Rachel3.8.18 - 11:56 AM

    This post made my heart happy in so many ways. The adorable pictures, of course, (the bathtime one is insanely cute) but also how your pets have evolved with their new housemate and sister. It’s so heartwarming to hear how they’re doing! I think since having my children, the lives of my cat and dog have improved in so many ways because we took the time to train them and help them adjust to the presence of our two boys, and then we taught/continue to teach our children how to treat our pets. Now, my pets just have more people to love on them and give them treats. That’s unfortunately not the case for so many pets who instead get relegated to the backyard or their crate for “misbehavior” when they’re just trying to figure out their new normal.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 12:15 PM

      Your experience makes us so happy! (And that last sentence hurts my heart.) Thank you for doing your part, Rachel!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle3.8.18 - 12:05 PM

    That last pic of Jack at bathtime made me tear up! We lost our beloved dog three weeks after our daughter was born last summer — and just a few days after he finally decided her feet were his new favorite thing to lick! — so I am wistful even reading about your challenges. I’m so glad to hear Jack is adjusting better now! I always enjoy how you incorporate your pets into your posts and this one is so helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Kylie3.8.18 - 12:13 PM

    We had to put our anxious dude on fluoxetine when our baby was about 8 months old. He has always been an anxious dog and it’s likely we would have needed to go that route even if there had been no baby, but the FAST changes a baby makes as they become mobile put a finer point on the need. I was at first a bit sad because we’d been training so hard to make lifestyle adjustments for his anxiety, but now I see that just as humans can’t control mental health issues, some dogs can’t either. It’s been a huge help to us and allowed us to continue working on the pup and baby bond (which is stronger than ever!). Good luck to all of you as you continue to grow :) :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather3.8.18 - 12:47 PM

    One of our dogs has guarding and anxiety and the first few months were hard after baby, we even tried finding him another home, which was a really hard decision to make. But, we realized he is home and he’s so great with out daughter. I had to get out of “mama bear” mode and listen and help him find a job to calm down. I trained him to come to me when she cried and eventually he learned, she’s taken care of and everything got better. He will leave the room for a safe too if our daughter is being loud though. Our other dog is a lot more comfortable too. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the upcoming baby gates!!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Heather3.8.18 - 1:07 PM

      Sorry for all of the typos, multitasking at work. Oops!!ReplyCancel

      • Kim3.8.18 - 1:49 PM

        Thank you for sharing your experience, Heather! It’s so important to understand both sides, but I can’t thank you enough for sticking with it.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy3.8.18 - 3:18 PM

    Posts like this are so, so important. Thank you so much for putting this out in the world!! Warm wishes to your sweet family as you all get to know each other.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren3.8.18 - 5:31 PM

    I have been reading several different DIY blogs over the years and recently came across yours-you have instantly been added to my weekly blog list! You guys are the best, and I love how much thought and care goes into your choices. Thank you for sharing your experiences with your anxious pup. Our pup also suffers from anxiety, and he was prescribed amitriptyline late last year. It has helped him so much!

    I am also so, so excited to watch the tree house kitchen unfold. We’re planning our very first kitchen remodel this year, and you have already given me a lot of insight. I will definitely be heading back through your archives to read about your other kitchen projects!ReplyCancel

  • Misty3.8.18 - 5:41 PM

    That was a beautiful post. I have been thinking about your darling CC and Jack and wondering how you are all doing! It sounds like you guys are doing wonderful. I love how those pups are your family, love how you are working through the change and excitement of having Baby Lucy home with you. You melted my heart with your description of them, of Jack being anxious because he wasn’t quite sure what to do. How he wants to be there but is a little unsure of how. And how CC is a sweet Furmomma. Awww. I adore those pups of yours and you are doing an amazing job with everyone. Honestly, I felt it in my heart after reading this post.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 5:53 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment. It has completely made our day. xxReplyCancel

  • 'col3.8.18 - 5:51 PM

    This is lovely. I’m happy to see everyone settling in so well together. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!ReplyCancel

  • Morgen3.8.18 - 6:05 PM

    This is so similar to our journey with our dog. His name is Angus and he was always special too.. we live in Australia so we were able to control his anxiety with lots of exercise !
    Our daughter is now 18 months old and they are best friends. At the start (when she started moving) he always had a space that was his (his bed). Where she was not allowed. He observed her a lot. Now he gravitates towards her when he feels anxious (thunderstorms). It’s like she provides his calm. It’s heart melting. It is far from perfect, but seeing her throw a ball for him and playing chaises is wonderful xReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 6:18 PM

      I love this. We hope that Jack and CC are around long enough to have this bond with Lucy as she starts moving!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel3.8.18 - 6:57 PM

    Love all of this ! It’s so nice to hear when things are hard – some times blogs seem too perfect. But I am glad everyone is acclimating.
    I’m curious about the baby’s tub, do you like it we are about to out grow the puj tub we have been using which we love and I would definitely recommend if you are wanting something more portable. Also lots of the reviews for your tub say it fits in their kitchen sink which is where we like to do baby bath time it’s such a back saver just a thought if you haven’t tried it yet. Love the blog and sweet Lucy is the best.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.8.18 - 8:43 PM

      We LOVE the tub, but more importantly, Lucy loves the tub! There’s a little ridge in the bottom that helps hold her up. We used to use the sink, but it was easier to keep all her supplies in our bathroom, so we started doing it there. I’ll have to look into the Puj! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Monika3.9.18 - 6:15 PM

    Wow! Great post! You guys have really put the hard yards in and it’s paid off. I’m sure you guys have looked into everything to help solve jacks condition that requires the steroids but (and this is coming from a place of only good intentions as someone who has been around dogs their whole life) it helps to start thinking of food as medicine. A lot of dog food commercially available is actually not very good for them. Eg fillers etc. The fact your dog needs steroids tells me he has inflammation and that can often be helped by getting the diet in check and as close as possible to the way nature intended. Try researching ways you can do this. And it goes without saying, getting Jack off the steroids can only help him health-wise and anxiety-wise. All the best and I wish you luck!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.9.18 - 6:55 PM

      Thanks, Monika! Yup, we’ve been down that road. We were so scared we were going to lose Jack a while back, but after endless tests, we found the cause, and the steroids (a VERY small dose, luckily) is the only thing that stabilizes it. We’ve been working with a specialist for years, and the times we’ve tried nixing the steroids altogether, the issue returned. We do agree with you that food can be an incredible healer, but sadly, not in Jack’s case. (We do give both pups limited ingredient foods, however!)ReplyCancel

  • Mollie3.10.18 - 4:11 PM

    I have been waiting on this post eagerly. My husband and I have just started serious talks about adding a baby to our family, but I have been extremely uneasy about how our dog, Bella, will react. She is very high energy and very high stress. Your summary of Jack felt like you were taking the words straight out of my mouth. I hope to use your experiences to guide our way.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.12.18 - 9:53 AM

      Investing in outside help was one of the best things we could have done. Every follow up experience will be different, but preparing yourself is really key, we think, to getting into a successful mindset.ReplyCancel

  • Oh Melvin3.11.18 - 2:07 PM

    So much to say!! One, you guys are amazing. The preparation, the honest sharing of ‘oh shit’ moments. Your persistence to make it work for everyone. Love, love, love. I also prefer the most natural solution possible. When Melvin died, Jake was inconsolable. I didn’t know what he needed. We saw a renowned behaviorist and she said, he needs Melvin back. Melvin was his lighthouse and his guide. Melvin was Jake’s natural Prozac. From day one with us, Melvin eased anxiety I didn’t even know Jake had. So she prescribed actual Prozac and I cried giving him the first dose, knowing that no pill could ever be Melvin. But slowly, he came back. To himself and to the day and even though he looked for Melvin every day, he was OK. As for Doug, Doug had back to back leg surgeries and he runs zoomies for a living and trazadone saved him and my sanity!! xoxoReplyCancel

    • Kim3.12.18 - 9:48 AM

      Great to hear from you, Tracey! The story of Jake and Melvin still makes me tear up to this day. They were such a special pair, and I’m honored I had the opportunity to work with you – and get to really know you and them – on their portraits. They’re still some of my very favorites! We do what we can to help our dogs think clear and happy thoughts, even if that means prescribed medication.ReplyCancel

  • stephanie3.12.18 - 7:18 AM

    Thanks for this update! Im a dog mama in the process of getting my pup more comfortable around my boyfriend’s young children, so hearing your story is SO helpful. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • susan3.16.18 - 7:26 AM

    I am so grateful to people like y’all who keep their pets a priority in their lives after having children. My brother and I grew up with pets in the house from the git-go and I’ve always had, at the minimum, cats. I remember when our daughter was born my mother-in-law was adamant we should get rid of our cats because “they’ll smother the baby”. Oh pshaw. Fortunately my husband paid her no mind. He would have had a fight on his hands from me if he tried ;) I cannot imagine growing up without animals in the family.ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.16.18 - 9:35 AM

      This makes us sad, but we see it all the time. Growing up with a household full of pets, I also can’t imagine a family without them!ReplyCancel

  • Misscris3.21.18 - 10:01 AM

    Kudos to you guys for making such an intentional effort on everyone’s behalf! We had 3 adult pibbles when we welcomed our first child. One of them was/is a “special” dog, and we did a lot of the same training. One fun activity is to wear the baby whenever you do any of your treat training. I used to put our first in the bjorn and do some fun sit/stays, high-fives, etc. with our dogs. When she got older, she started scooping their dinner, kenneling them with a special dog biscuit, etc. And once solids begin, the high chair is an endless supply of doggy goodness! 7 years later, they worship the ground she walks on! (because she is the source of all yummy treats! ha!) Our almost 3-year old is now doing the same. It always cracks me up to watch three big dogs get bossed around by a tyke 1/3rd their size!ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.21.18 - 10:23 AM

      These are awesome tips, and I’ll be referring to your comment once Lucy is a little older! We can’t wait for the day when we can see them interact more – with Lucy crawling, eating solids, etc. It makes our hearts burst to think about it. Thank you so much for chiming in!ReplyCancel

  • […] In addition to the Q&A post, Kim from Yellow Brick Home also shared two posts on her own blog about their baby prep strategies. In the first, written before their daughter Lucy arrived, she went into more detail about what was most important for their Jack and CC. In the second post, Kim shared very honestly how their dogs adjusted and some of the challenges they faced. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] In addition to the Q&A post, Kim from Yellow Brick Home also shared two posts on her own blog about their baby prep strategies. In the first, written before their daughter Lucy arrived, she went into more detail about what was most important for their Jack and CC. In the second post, Kim shared very honestly how their dogs adjusted and some of the challenges they faced. […]ReplyCancel

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