|McKenna (@ 6 weeks) and Reese|
It seems that every year there are one or more publicized cases where a very young child is killed by the family pet. In the majority of cases the dog is described as loyal, loving, and gentle, and the parents never anticipated their pet harming anyone's child, let alone theirs. But unfortunately, no matter how sweet, gentle, and good-natured a dog may be, they should never be trusted to be alone around young children, and certainly not around an infant.
When we brought McKenna home from the hospital, part of me was concerned about how my minpin would react to her. Minpins as a breed tend to attach themselves to one person, and can often be possessive of "their" human. While we also have a big, goofy German Shepherd, his intentions towards the baby were never a concern for my partner or I. Reese, on the other hand, would require constant (and close) supervision, until we could be sure that she was not jealous enough of the new baby to take a bite out of her. Fortunately, Reese took to her right away. From the moment we brought her home, Reese wanted to smell, lick, and explore this tiny little creature that she had been smelling on Greg's clothes for the past few days while we were in the hospital. She couldn't seem to get enough of her. Was she jealous? Of course she was. Reese would try to force her way in between the baby and I during feedings, would quickly jump onto the nursing pillow as I was laying the baby down to nurse, and would otherwise try to come between the baby and I. Up until McKenna arrived, Reese had been the center of my universe, and now she was relegated to sleeping on the couch (instead of in bed with us) and having to wait to be petted, fed, and let outdoors. The world wasn't revolving around Reese anymore!
As time has passed, Reese has come to accept the baby. While she is still a little jealous of the baby, her jealousy has largely been replaced by curiosity. She is so gentle around the baby, and many a time I have woken up and found that Reese has crawled into bed with us, and is lying curled up against the baby. More than likely, she is just stealing her body heat, but it sure looks cute.
Getting back to the point of this post, dogs, no matter how old, how smart, how loyal, or what their past history with children is, should never be trusted to be unsupervised around small children. It only takes one bite. As much as I don't want to believe that my dogs are capable of hurting my child, the fact is that they are. As a parent, it is my responsibility to protect my child from dangers, particularly those that can easily be prevented. The dogs can be kenneled while I am taking a shower or doing laundry. They can sleep on the floor or at the foot of the bed instead of next to us on the pillows. While I don't think that either one of them would ever intentionally hurt McKenna, when a child is fatally bitten, the dog's intentions really don't matter.