Sherlock is our Cavalier King Charles spaniel and he is the most friendly, daft and loveable dog you could get. Sherlock is the son of my parents’ dog, Poppy and we brought him home in September 2016, shortly before Jon and I got married.
It’s no secret that Sherlock has always been my baby. Jon is the strict one and tells him off when he needs it, whereas I take one look at his face and fluffy ears and smother him in kisses and cwtches. He would constantly make an appearance on my Instagram and everytime someone would ask how he was, I’d go all gooey-eyed. We would spend a lot of time in Pets at Home, buying him all the toys and treats a pup could ever need and occasionally take him to Action Petz (a sort of play area for dogs which he absolutely loved).
However, when I found out I was pregnant, things changed immediately between Sherlock and I. It was like he sensed that something was different and was quite wary of me. He wouldn’t come for fuss as often and when he did come near, he would be quite cautious about where he stood. This made me sad but after doing some research, I found that it’s actually quite common. Dogs can sense a change in your hormones, you smell differently when pregnant apparently, and whilst some dogs can become incredibly protective of their owners, some can go the other way.
It didn’t really help that one of the biggest aversions to me, especially in the first trimester, was dog food. Whereas before I would feed Sherlock before leaving for work, the thought and smell of dog food literally made me sick so Jon had to take over.
As the months went by, and my stomach grew and grew, Sherlock changed again. He became protective and wouldn’t leave my side. I would go upstairs for a matter of seconds, and he would be led across the bottom of the stairs (had he been allowed, I’m sure he’d have followed me!) He would try to sit on my lap but couldn’t due to the size of the bump and would instead lay his body right up against my outstretched legs.
As my due date grew nearer, I became more and more nervous about how Sherlock would react to a new baby, to be pushed farther down the priority scale. After doing some research, we started to leave baby clothes, products and toys dotted around the living room, in the hope that he would get used to these foreign objects!
When I finally gave birth, I was in hospital for a few days so it was left to Jon to look after Sherlock following his visits. He would bring home clothes that Raife had worn so that he could get used to his scent which I think worked brilliantly. I was a bit nervous about the big introduction, but we really couldn’t have hoped for a better result. We took it really slowly, and of course, Sherlock wanted to sniff Raife from top to bottom, which we allowed – Sherlock was here first after all! It’s all he really wanted to do, and afterwards, he sort of slinked to his bed and watched us attempt to care for a newborn!
In the first few days, Sherlock was a bit wary – he’d keep his distance and when Raife cried, he’d look at us as if to say, “What on earth have you brought into my house?!” but with time, he’s got used to the new addition. In fact, he’s super protective. If we’re holding the baby, Sherlock will come and lie at our feet and if we have visitors, he’ll always come up to check that Raife is safe. We really think that they will become the best of friends – when Raife stops pulling his fur!
As Raife has got older and spends more time on his play mat or bouncer, Sherlock has been spending time lying next to him or coming over to sniff him when he starts grizzling. Sherlock will also come and get me if I’ve briefly stepped out of the room to alert me to the fact that Raife is not happy (I can already hear him crying, but it’s good to know that if I couldn’t, Sherlock would come and get me!)
There have been a few times where we’ve caught Sherlock playing with Raife’s toys, so we have had to reinforce that they aren’t his and instead direct him to his own toy box. But I do think that we sometimes forget how young he is and that he is still a very playful spaniel and soft toys make great chew-things.
Of course, every dog is different and will behave differently to how Sherlock has. If I could give any advice it is to start preparations early but slowly. If you have work to do in the house or if you have a Moses basket or bouncer that’ll spend a lot of time in your lounge, bring it down beforehand so that your pet can get used to the new addition. In our case, I really think these changes really helped to ensure a relatively positive introduction.