May 12th, 2011 my wife
and I gave birth to our first child, a little girl. She is just over three months old now and I feel like its been a pretty good adjustment. One thing I find fascinating is the way our dogs have responded to her. Let me take you back to when we were in the hospital: we had a lactation consultant come our recovery room to educate us on “a few things” and she asked us if we had any pets. We told her we had two dogs and then proceeded to hear her talk about things like “pack leaders,” “alphas,” and “establish your role” etc. Yes, I rolled my eyes when she wasn’t looking, but I held my tongue – God bless my wife, she tolerates my stubborn stance on NDT and dogs. And of course, we were instructed to bring a blanket home with the baby’s scent on it. I know that’s a common practice people participate in and that’s great, but I knew full well that the dogs didn’t need to pick up on a new energy from a blanket: they’ve felt this new energy since the moment she was conceived.
When we got home from the hospital I observed some very different interactions. We’ll start with Bella. When I held our daughter in my arms while standing, Bella initially jumped up to see/feel what I was holding. Her (Bella’s) eyes glowing, ears alert, forward curiosity! I tried my best to go with the flow while being careful with our newborn. While Bella no longer jumps up to make contact, she is still a magnet to our girl. As seen in the picture, Bella is very content to be around, almost as if she feels grounded next to the baby. I’m not sure that “protective” or “territorial” is the right term, but we find Bella somewhere near wherever our baby is.
And then there’s Trace, our peculiar, independent boy. I had our baby in the kitchen (where the dogs eat) and it was just Trace. I knelt down in the center, holding baby cradle-style in my arms. Trace proceeded to sniff us then he started slowly pacing in circles around me. And every ten seconds or so he would rub his side against me, almost as if he was using me as a base, a reference point. He became supple in those moment. It was interestingly a very calming, unifying, almost ritualistic moment for the three of us. You have to understand, there is a certain dynamic between Trace and I that is different than that with Bella.
All this takes me back to my visit with Behan back in February 2011. There we were, at his farm, outside in the lovely Vermont winter. I don’t mind two feet of snow: who doesn’t like a challenge! We took a stroll with Trace and I began to understand a little deeper my relationship with the dogs, but I also gained some insight into my own upbringing and the ungrounded energy of my own life. The bottom line, in discussing polarity and our dogs “fitting” with our energy, was that I aligned with Bella but I identified with Trace, he is my equal-opposite. Moreover, I smile now just realizing how powerful a relationship with my newborn can help me better understand my dogs, and vice versa. There’s so much to learn!
I wonder about the various experiences people have had with their dogs and newborns?