I’ll start with a confession: I’m embarrassed to say that even though I have spent my entire career in pet food, I have never had a dog or cat.
In contrast, my wife, Rachael always had pets—cats, dogs, a bird, and a turtle—until she met me. As long as I can remember I wanted a dog, but for one reason (excuse) or another the time was not right. Between our jobs and satisfying our wanderlust, we didn’t feel it would be fair to be kenneling a dog all the time. Fast forward three years and one baby later, we decided there was no time like present.
We knew we wanted our kids to grow up with a dog, but that also meant we needed to find a baby friendly dog. After searching through what felt like hundreds of PetFinder profiles, we came across Moana, a beautiful 3 year old lab hound mix.
We wanted to rescue, but felt the need to meet the dog with our son before committing. Since the number of adoptable baby friendly dogs in the Boston area was limited, it took some time to find Moana. When we met her through Great Dog Rescue New England, Moana was so gentle with our 8 month old son. Even when he tugged her ear, pulled her tail, or used her as a walker she stayed unflappable.
We knew we had met the dog for us, and after wrapping up the formalities and picking up supplies—like some CORE food and WHIMZEES treats—we were going to have a new family member!
On October 11th Moana joined our family and has fulfilled a lifetime wish.
I was nervous and anxious that first night, especially because once I got home Rachael was leaving me alone with both Moana and our son! Thankfully Moana adjusted well to our house, and while it’s not been all sunshine and rainbows it has been easier and more fun than expected!
Moana fit right in to our busy lives. She’s loved going hiking, playing outside, and snuggling on the couch at the end of a long day. She particularly has connected with our son. She guards the stroller on walks and is our son’s personal jungle gym. Whenever he sees her—especially after a nap—he gives the biggest smile. Our son adores his doggy and loves it when she tries to give him kisses.
Q. How did you prepare your home to welcome the dog with your baby?
Since Moana was already house trained and seemed to behave well it didn’t take much preparation Just to be safe we picked up some shoes and toys to reduce any temptation. We set up her crate, dog bed, and water bowl. Our first day together she picked her spot on the couch, and we realized that we needed to set-up a baby gate on the stairs for both her and our son.
Q. What advice would you give to a new parent(s) interested in welcoming a dog into the home?
Meet the dog first with your baby, but if you’re waiting, don’t. Just do it. There are so many dogs that need a home and the more we wait the more there are. It’s not as hard as we were anticipating. In some ways Moana helps – our son has an easier time waking up once he sees Moana. When walking with the stroller, Moana is very protective and keeps her eye on our son. She also tries to help by cleaning up his spit-up…gross.
Q. What are some of the challenges of caring for a baby and dog simultaneously?
There are certainly some challenges caring for a dog and baby. Like when Rachael is home alone and feeding our son, but Moana also needs to go out. Or when Rachael is pushing the stroller and Moana smells something she’s interested in. However, overall it’s not been as hard as we were anticipating. Rachael is definitely busier at home than she was without a dog, but it’s worth it!
Moana has been the perfect addition to our family, and we couldn’t be happier! I finally know what I was missing out on all of these years, and I’m looking forward to many years of great memories with Moana.