Suzie and her partner have three dogs , and up until now, the animals have been the centre of their home life. The arrival of their first baby – Conor – two weeks ago has been a big change in the social structure of the house, and each pet has taken a different attitude to the situation.
The youngest dog, TJ, sees himself as the carer in the house, and he’s intrigued and concerned about the baby. He sometimes seems anxious, looking at Suzie in a worried way when the baby cries, but he isn’t upset at all.
The oldest dog, Mr Bully, seems disconnected with the situation: he’s a jovial, cheerful dog who just gets on with his own life. As far as he’s concerned, the baby is nothing to do with him, and he seems completely unaffected.
Mia, the female dog in the middle, is the one who is finding Conor’s arrival challenging. She, herself, has always been the baby of the house, getting most of the attention from Suzie and her partner. Suddenly, everything has changed, and the small bundle of life that came back from the hospital is the new focus in the home. Mia is not happy.
Suzie has done everything possible to smooth things over. Conor was born seven weeks premature, so he spent 10 days in intensive care. During this time, Suzie brought some of his clothes home for the dogs to sniff, so that they’d become familiar with his scent before they met him. The two older dogs smelled the babygrow and moved on, but Mia was different. She sniffed them, then looked up at Suzie with a disgusted expression. It was just as if she was thinking “Are you serious about this? Is some other creature coming to live with us?”
Suzie has done her best to make sure that Mia’s life continues normally, taking her for walks as usual and giving her plenty of attention when she finds time. But inevitably, things have changed. When the house was full of visitors last weekend, it was the new baby that they wanted to see, not Mia, as it would have been a few weeks previously. Mia is no longer the Number One and she doesn’t like this at all.
Whenever Conor is lifted out of his bed, Mia gets agitated, scuttling around in a nervous way. And when Suzie feeds the baby, Mia cries constantly, whining to let Suzie know that she isn’t happy. She’s clearly stressed, and it’s no accident that her long standing skin condition, which had been under control, has flared up. Mia’s going through a difficult time.
Suzie is continuing to take all the right steps to help Mia, establishing a new routine that still has plenty of “Mia time”. The situation will settle down over the next few weeks, but that doesn’t help Mia right now. She had enjoyed being the baby of the house and it isn’t easy coming to terms with the end of that stage of life.