My title is not entirely true and I think I need to preface this post that our dog nipped at her scaring both of us more than hurting our daughter.
Mac, our dog, is an almost 13 year old 10 lb Maltese. When Bailey was first born I was so worried about what the future would be like between the two of them. Like many small dogs who lived their entire lives without children around Mac can be terrified by kids. When we were still in the hospital my husband started bringing clothes home with Bailey’s scent to get her used to the new smell. For the first 2 years, I never let them be alone together. I wanted to protect both of them and did not want to think about what we would do if Mac ever bit Bailey and hurt her. When friends with kids come over Bailey knows it is time to give Mac a treat and walk her into our bedroom with the door shut.
Fast forward almost three years and Bailey and Mac have a sweeter relationship than I would have ever imagined possible. Bailey requests for Mac to join us in her own chair at the table for most meals, she includes her in every prayer, thanking God for her sister. When they are apart Bailey talks about her sister al the time. Bailey loves to take Mac on walks, give her treats, food and water. Whenever we leave the house Bailey tells her she loves her and not to worry that we will be home soon. When we get home she runs into our room to let her outside, give her a hug and tell her that she missed her. When she sees friends out she often invites them to come to her house and see Mac. When she is eating she always asks if she can give Mac some of her food. If she drops food on the floor she calls for Mac to help with cleanup. Mac may not be like Bentley, my childhood black lab who you could lay all over and pull his tail and he was just happy for the attention. Bailey would love to have a dog who would follow her everywhere, who would sleep with her and snuggle with her all day long, but only if she could have Mac and the other dog.
1. Not all dogs want to be touched – Bailey is an animal lover and wants to pet every dog she sees. It is easy for her to understand why this is not possible when we remind her that often Mac does not want us to pet her and she needs some time in her cave, which is her special hiding place under our bed when she needs her space.
2. Pay attention to animal’s cues – Bailey has started to pay attention to when Mac’s posture changes which is the first sign that she is getting nervous and she needs to be gentle or stop what she is doing.
3. Always use gentle hands with animals – Bailey has learned to avoid touching Mac’s ears and that she needs to use gentle hands when she is petting her.
4. Keep your hand flat when giving an animal a treat – I personally learned this the hard way with a horse. It is easy for animals to mistake your fingers for part of the treat.
One day we may have a dog who Bailey can rough house with, but for now I am grateful for the lessons that Mac has taught her and the sweet relationship they have. What types of pets do you have? What are the pros and cons?