Since Harry’s arrival last year, a fair few well-wishers have very kindly asked us what the dogs have think of the latest addition to our family.
While there have been countless changes to their daily life, overall, they’ve coped well.
Here’s a few lessons we’ve learnt over the last year…
Just being around isn’t always enough
Following my maternity leave I have been working from home, and the dogs have more company than ever before. Despite this, one evening I was trying to doze off, and I couldn’t quite remember if I’d found the time that day to give both dogs a proper cuddle.
The days can fly by, and sometimes it can feel that I’m stretched in so many directions, that it’s easy for the dogs to be overlooked.
Since that night, I’ve tried to make sure both dogs get a good fuss each day, often while Harry takes his nap. I don’t know if it’s made much a difference to them, but I definitely enjoy it.
Sometimes there will be hard choices
We’re incredibly lucky that my parents will happily look after our dogs for us, and there have been a couple of times when it’s been well needed.
When Harry was first born, I felt a little bit shakier than anticipated, and one of my biggest worries was that I’d topple over on the stairs if one of the dogs rushed past me.
While it hadn’t been the initial plan, and it was upsetting to see them go, it was definitely for the best. The dogs being away gave us the space we needed with our newborn, and they had a great time on ‘Holiday’ at my parent’s house.
The second time was when we were transitioning Harry to nap in his cot, and I was worried that any crying would upset the dogs. In reality, there weren’t many tears, but having sent the dogs to my parents strengthened my resolve that our new routine had to start that week.
It’s never easy being apart from our dogs, especially when we’re at home, but struggling on with them being side-lined wouldn’t have been fair to them.
Keeping on top of their health
Once Harry started weaning, a food started to be dropped on the floor, which then miraculously seemed to disappear…
A trip to the vets confirmed that both dogs had put on a little weight, and while it wasn’t a worrying amount, it was something to take note of.
To balance out their diet, we’ve stopped buying dog treats, and now just offer their dry dog food as a ‘Reward’ Honestly, I’m not sure they’ve even noticed!
They both seem to be big fans of Scrumbles dog food, and as it’s high in protein, contains no nasties, and is gluten free, I feel happy giving it to them too. We’ve recently tried it out, replacing their normal dry and wet food, and it certainly passed their taste-test.
Just as we do with all Harry’s food and snacks, we always check the ingredients and composition of the dog food and treats we buy, as quite a few well-known brands sneakily fill their feed with additives or slightly dubious sounding “Animal Derivatives.” A quick read of the back of the Scrumbles packaging reveals only simple high-quality ingredients. Chicken, rice, oats and some veg, along with salmon for Omega 3 & 6, and a probiotic to help-out sensitive tummies.
Price wise, it works out a little more expensive, but as it has replaced treats, as well as both wet and dry food, it’s not going to cost us all that more – and it’s so much better for them! As it’s so high in protein and nutrient dense, in theory we’ll need to feed them less than we did previously, but our dogs seem to love the taste and want seconds… so I’m not sure how well we’re doing at portion control!
The puppy days are so important
When we chose both our dogs, we purposefully opted for breeders who brought the puppies up in the home, around their families. Ruby and Polly both started their days with young children for company, and we’ve made sure they’ve been around toddlers and older children as they’ve grown older.
We always knew we wanted children, and that the dogs would inevitably be around them, so we kept that in mind when choosing them.
Polly is a Cockerlier (Cocker spaniel, Cavalier spaniel cross) and Ruby is a Cavapoochon (Cavalier Spaniel, Bichon Frise, Toy poodle cross) Definitely family friendly breeds, they are happy to be around Harry, and are reasonably tolerant with the inevitable interest he has in them.
When we met the breeders, we also took the opportunity to meet both Polly and Ruby’s mothers, and could see they both had calm, pleasant temperaments. Both dogs seem to have inherited this, crucial for family pets.
Over the last year, I’ve been glad that we took the time and effort to properly research and narrow down the dog breeds that would be right for us. Both dogs have adapted well to their changes in lifestyle, and I do think their start in life has been partly responsible for this.
It’s not all been rosy, and it hasn’t always been easy getting out for daily dog walks, but in hindsight leaving the house each day has been really good for me, both physically and mentally.
As Harry gets older and transitions from a baby to a toddler, we can see he is developing his own relationship with the dogs, and they are starting to seeing the positives too. Polly is particularly pleased that he can now throw a ball for her!
Before Harry arrived, we were unsure what life with two dogs and a baby would look like, and while we could never give them up, a small part of me did wonder whether we regret having them. We really needn’t have worried, and while the last year or so has had challenges, the dogs have added so much happiness to our life as a family of five. Without a doubt, we would never want to be without them!
Post created in collaboration with Scrumbles (www.scrumbles.co.uk) who have kindly offered a special code so that you can give them a try at a discounted price. Enter RUBY50 at the checkout for 50% off your first order.