Before I became pregnant, Dot had a routine of going out for at least an hour first thing in the morning to wander the neighborhood. We live in a safe, enclosed neighborhood, with plenty of houses but very few neighbors, so we felt it was all right to let her wander, get some fresh air and exercise, and come and go as she liked. She would come back and sleep near me as I worked, but her routine mostly involved alternating between hanging out with me or Toby and running outside every few hours or so. At least a few times a day, she would go into high drama mode upon spying a fellow dog outside. High-pitched shrieking and whining and general freaking-out would commence until we could get up and let her out to go sniff her compatriot’s hind end and come back inside.
Almost as soon I as found out I was pregnant, Dot’s routine changed. She no longer goes on long morning hikes. Instead, she sleeps patiently on her little bed until we get up—whether it be at 7 a.m. or 10 a.m.—at which point, we’ll let her out to go pee, but then she comes right back in, and from then on, she’s attached at my heel. If I go to work on the couch, she’ll sleep right beside me there, or lay perched to watch the outdoors for any possible miscreants. Upstairs, downstairs, there she is right behind me. When I go to the kitchen for a snack, she follows me. When I go to the kitchen to make lunch, she whines to go outside, but instead of wandering afield, she mans her guard post just outside the kitchen door until I’m done cooking, at which point she will follow me to the dining room to stand guard while I eat. When I take a shower, she stands watch outside the bathroom door, sometimes even whining until I stick my wet fingers past the curtain for her to lick and be assured that I am indeed behind the curtain and have not actually melted down the drain.
And then, at night, instead of sleeping in her little bed, she has taken to coming to my side of the bed and sleeping on the floor beside me until I fall asleep. When it’s clear I’m safe and sleeping, she moves back to her proper bed.
To say she has become protective of her pregnant mama would be an understatement.
Yesterday, I packed up the car to go to work at SOLD. Normally, this dog hates anything to do with the car because while the car often means a trip to the lake, it also potentially means a trip to the vet or to the kennel. We usually have to coax and cajole her for several minutes before she begrudgingly gets in the car with a look that clearly says to us, “FINE, but only because I love you, you know that right?” Sometimes she gets so recalcitrant we give up and force her in. Seeing as how just last week she had her annual vaccinations at the vet’s office, one would think this experience would be foremost in her little doggie mind and getting back in the car would be the last thing she’d want to do. Yet, just as I was about to step into the car myself, she popped in and made herself comfy on the front seat–only to be promptly ejected. We had to put her in the house and shut the door so I could drive away. She went into high drama mode and wouldn’t stop whining until Toby finally let her out to prove to her that I was indeed already gone. (Poor little Dottles!)
Dogs are amazing, aren’t they? We figure she must have been able to smell or somehow sense a change in my hormones or pheremones or whatever because the change was almost immediate. I don’t really know if she understands pregnancy or not. Either way, I love that her innate instinct in response was a protective one. I think it bodes well for how she’ll be when the baby comes along. Normally, she’s a little skittish around kids and we’ve had to work hard to socialize her to be at ease around a lot of kids. It’s not easy for her, and if they startle her or come at her looking like they might strike her, she will still occasionally snap so we watch her carefully. We’ll watch her carefully with our little one as well (OF COURSE), but I think as long as she recognizes the baby as a member of the family (which, actually, so far, she’s been amazingly good at figuring out who’s family when visitors come to call), she will be all love and cuddles. I’m curious to see how it plays out.