Transition: Integrating Your Furry Family Member
Before Alex arrived, Victory was our ‘only child’ for nearly five years! I previously wrote a blog post about preparing your furry family member when a baby arrives. However, this post, today, is about continuing to integrate your furry family member upon the arrival of a child and it can also be applied to a major life transition.
Even though our hearts expanded in every way, we are so, so grateful, and this is the best season of our lives, it was a big change for everyone when Alex arrived, including Victory. Our overarching goal was to be sure that not too much changed for Victory, even though a whole lot changed, if that makes sense! We are all in a groove now, getting sleep, figuring out things as we go, which is great for everyone!
First, we included Victory in Alex’s birth. Victory was at the hospital, the day after the birth, and it was so lovely and memorable. I am very grateful to the hospital staff for being so accommodating with our request. Victory was a hit with the hospital staff, and she got right up into the hospital bed by with me, by my side, and she did not want to leave! Our entire family was together, for the first time, and I will never forget that time together introducing the girls to each other.
Second, we always encourage Victory to be with us wherever we are in the house. She knows that she has free reign of the house, but we wanted to be sure she knew that she was still, of course, a part of all family activities, and that would never change. So, from the very beginning, she learned to go in Alex’s room and be apart of our daily routines, etc. It is very special to hear Alex say, each morning, “Hi Tory!” and waive her hand to Victory with a big smile! It warms my heart as Victory always follows me into Alex’s room each morning, even during the times when Alex’s room smells like a bathroom, if you get my drift! Victory wants to be apart of everything, which is so great! And, she has and continues to be extremely patient and tolerant of Alex since she was born.
Third, we encouraged the girls to bond. We never kept Victory away from Alex (Victory has never been aggressive to anyone); in fact, we encouraged her to sniff and interact with Alex. (There, however, have been times that we have had to keep Alex from Victory). And, since Alex was quite sick, this winter, both girls have really bonded, and it is so great! Victory loves licking Alex, and Alex knows not to pull on Victory’s fur or chase Victory, thank goodness. So they reached some sort of mutual understanding, even with limited verbal communication, between them! Victory knows so much, and is quite remarkable how in tune she is with everything and every person in our home. Victory has been by our side meandering through mountain tops and valleys, and she is so loyal and she is always there for all of us, and we never take that for granted. We feel so grateful for her.
Fourth, we also continue to take Victory on outings, which she always loves, and Alex loves them, too! Even in the dead of winter, when there are not too many options for places to take Victory to, there is always Lowes, on standby, which Victory and Alex love! We also take Victory with Alex, year-round, to get soft-serve ice cream at TCBY, which is a hit with Victory! We are very much looking forward to the spring, just around the corner, and the summer where there are a myriad of options for outings with our girls! Victory loves outings and it is always a ‘morale boost,’ for Victory, especially during the winter when she can get cabin fever, at times.
Fifth, we continue to take Victory on vacation with us! Even though it is not always easy to find a rental that accepts both a small dog and a small child, we make it work! Doug is always really good about finding places for us to stay! Victory has been on every single vacation with us since we adopted her in the fall of 2013! We would not have it any other way!
Finally, most of all, our love never waivers with Victory, and we spend time with only Victory each day. She loves her time with us! She is our fur girl, forever! And, she is such a great ‘big sister’ to Alex! You can see their love reflected in the recent images, below. Doug and I are so fortunate. We love our girls with our whole hearts.
All of this said, if you take the time, and make a conscious effort, to include your furry family member during a big change or transition, such as adding another family member, it will work out for everyone in the long run!