When Your First “Baby” Is Fuzzy

Before I begin, it’s worth noting I was the child who cried watching Homeward Bound. And then the college student whose parents took her to see Marley & Me thinking it would distract me and make me happy when I was sad about my now-husband leaving for a month. Spoiler alert: Shadow does make it over the hill, and well, Marley & Me is not a great movie to see when you’ve already been moping all day unless you want to cry all the ugly tears your heart can muster.

Buffy was so patient and endured many dress-up sessions with me.

So, yes, before becoming a “dog mom” in 2011, I was already quite fond of dogs, especially miniature schnauzers. My parents actually decided to get Buffy, our family’s first pet, because I was the child who screamed and cried at a dog for simply existing in the same general vicinity as me. I quickly got over being terrified of Buffy and still vividly remember seeing my oldest brother cry the day we had to put her sleep when I was in middle school.

Zetty and me the day he officially joined our family!

I knew my husband, Martin, and I would get a dog as soon as it was his idea. Fortunately, he decided it was the right time to get a dog around our first year wedding anniversary. Zetty, named after Detroit Red Wings hockey player, Henrik Zetterberg, stole our hearts immediately with his big personality, mischievous nature, and expert snuggle skills.  

For over six years, Zetty was our sole baby.  In preparation for us being out of the country for three weeks right before our sixth wedding anniversary, Martin thoughtfully bought me a pet camera so I would be able check-in and chat with Zetty while away from home (don’t worry, our gifts aren’t always that unromantic). A few months later when I became pregnant with our daughter, Tess, Zetty was the one who helped me tell Martin and later announce it to our immediate families.

Zetty feeling unsure about his new title the morning of my positive pregnancy test.

Shortly before Tess was born, I took Zetty to the veterinarian to find out what I should do to help prepare him for the change of bringing a baby home. That appointment was helpful, and we followed her advice: 1-we sent home a blanket and hat with Tess’s scent while we were still in the hospital, 2-I didn’t carry Tess inside when we got home from the hospital, 3-we gave him treats for staying calm, and 4-we praised him for giving her space when we took her out of the carseat. Zetty adjusted well to Tess being part of our family, and he even chose to sleep in the guest bed with me in her nursery the first few months instead of getting a more peaceful night of sleep in the master bedroom with Martin.

Tess and Zetty helping calm my troubled mind with morning chats and smiles the morning after the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017.

Although I fully expected Zetty to become “just a dog” after Tess was born like so many other moms told me happened to them, I’m here to say, I still have so much love for my first, fuzzy baby. It’s been such fun to see how Tess’s eyes light up when she sees him and how much he seems to like to be near her, even if it means his ears are being tugged. I know Tess won’t remember these days with Zetty, and it makes me sad because watching the two of them interact is one of my favorite parts of motherhood so far.  Until she is big enough to enjoy hearing stories about her and Zetty, I will continue to be the ridiculous mom trying to find baby and dog friendly places, pushing a stroller while wearing a waist leash with a dog who wasn’t properly leash trained, and crying through any movie where a child or dog faces hardship.

Zetty keeps an ear out for Tess and loves to greet her immediately after she wakes up her naps.

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