When my good friend Jessica came to visit my family in Boise with her pretty newborn son, my boston terrier, Scout, about had a heart attack. He showed signs of dog-like-anxiety that I have never seen in him before! Every time Jessica's baby made a noise (let alone cried), Scout would jump up with a frantic look in his eye- a look that said:
"I NEED to help you but I don't have thumbs! Someone help this child!"
But when the baby was calm and content, Scout focused his energy on Jessica. When Jess went into the kitchen, the dog went into the kitchen. He was right at her heels the whole time- unless, of course, his duties were summoned by a screaming baby. By the time mom and son left our house, Scout was exhausted and I was sure all of his hair would fall out any moment.
Well then I had a baby. And Scout resumes his guard-dog duties with diligence for little Georgia. Last time we were in Boise, I arrived when no one was home and had to go the bathroom something terrible. Georgia was starving and screaming about it as I entered the house, put the carseat down in the front room and ran to the bathroom. When I came out, Georgia was still proclaiming she was hungry, and my little dog was doing figure eight jumps in the air in front of her. I could just hear his inner monologue:
"It's okay! You're okay! Watch me do these jumps! Please stop crying! I'm jumping for YOU!"
I tried to take the above picture to show Scout sniffing/soothing Georgia, but he turned and looked me when I snapped the photo.
"What are we gonna do about this, Mama?"
That whole weekend, Scout made sure that if Georgia was crying, someone who could make her stop knew it. When HE couldn't make her stop, he took his aggression out on his dog toys. As if all of his energy tearing up the stuffed lizard would somehow transfer to the poor baby and calm her down.
And when Georgia wasn't crying- who do you think he followed? Me. Into the kitchen, the bathroom, and slept at the foot of my bed every night. I recently read Inside of a Dog which talks about where dogs "human like" characteristics come from and what they actually mean. Nothin' in there about dogs and babies or dogs and moms. I like to think that Scout is aware of who is the most vulnerable. He somehow knows that Georgia can't help herself and also knows that I need protecting too- because without me, who would make the baby stop crying?