Fri | Jan 20, 2017

In the Doghouse | Old dogs new tricks

Published:Sunday | January 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson

You know how they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Well, what happens when a dog is meeting a new addition to their family? What's the trick to having them get along?

For our In the Doghouse series, we asked two of our dog-loving readers how they managed to integrate new members of their families with their canine pets.

Tesha Swaby told Outlook that the transition to having a pet was frightening at first, to say the least, "I had married Tony, and that meant making the dog, Star, my family too. While we were dating, I was terrified as I stood at the door waiting. Once you hear Star bark, you would run for the hills because she sounded as if she would rip you apart."

But to her surprise, once she went inside, Star, an American rottweiler, received Swaby with open 'paws', rushing in and gently placing her head in her lap after she sat down in the living room. "I just rubbed her. This greeting warmed my heart," she added. She got the bark of approval and the rest, as they say, is history.

"Waking up to Star daily has been a blessing, but living with her as an inside pet took some getting used to because she was always in my space, and I've always been so accustomed to having my own space to myself, especially indoors," she pointed out. Adjusting to feeding her was hard too, "Her pan has be cleaned everyday, she eats a lot and often, and she only drinks cold water, so we have to drop ice cubes in it sometimes to have it at just the right temperature. Even if she goes outdoors and she muddies up her own water, it needs to be changed and she will not hesitate in letting you know," Swaby shared.

 

NEW ROUTINE

 

The fact that she's trained to use outside as the bathroom, only made matters worse for Swaby who is beat at the end of the day, after making frequent trips in and out of the house. "But I'm getting used to the new routine, and providing structure in my life. Those aside, she is extremely loving, very protective and makes for great company, especially since Tony is often away from home, hard at work, so it makes it all worth it," she concluded.

Kimberly Hew-Langdon, who has not one, not two, but three male German shepherds, recently welcomed a new addition to her family - her baby girl. Introducing her to the boys, she says, was a match made in heaven. "The boys were very welcoming to the new baby. It's all in the way you introduce the baby and treat the dogs. MB especially is very protective and has been ever since the baby got home. We keep him included in everything with her so he's allowed to go everywhere with her and that makes him feel important."

She continued, "The dogs can hear the heartbeat when you're pregnant, so he was expecting her before she actually came. Some people say you should send home a blanket with the baby scent on it before you go home from the hospital. We didn't do that, but he was perfect with her. He's very gentle, he goes up and sniffs her and licks her and she's quite happy to have him in her face. She's not bothered by him at all and even when they bark, and are loud, she's not scared or upset."

She noted that even when she visits her parents for Christmas, their dogs are quite gentle and protective. "Maybe that's because I'd visited them when I was pregnant so they'd been expecting her too. The first time we brought the baby, Romulus would sit outside our door every morning until we came out and would just sit with her and be happy, even though he's normally running around chasing everything," she revealed.

So, it just goes to show you, you can always teach an old dog, new tricks. How did you introduce your dog to any new member of your family? Tell us at lifestyle@gleanerjm.com.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com