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pakhi beri_00000Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France

Since my childhood pets surrounded me. I grew up with dogs, cats and cows. We mostly had dogs in pair and my father always kept names, which rhymed like Whiskey and Brandy, Lucy and Curry then there was Raja, Puff and Titus who recently passed away due to a heart ailment. That’s why I decided to write about the importance and benefits of dogs being in children’s lives.

After coming to Delhi for my higher studies, I did have a lot of friends but I somehow felt strange coming to an empty house or no dogs greeting me with a wagging tail. So a friend rescued a stray pup and he thought I would be the ideal person to give him a loving home. I was so thrilled. We named him Atom. The joy that pets can give us is priceless. So I feel it is very important for a child to grow up around pets.

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So, expecting parents please who are current pet owners please do not think of sending your pet away thinking how will you manage or how will the dog react to your baby’s homecoming. You can’t have a relationship with your pet and then be like “The relationship has changed, our priorities have changed. Sorry, but you have to go.” Animals do get jealous and react in different ways however there are several ways to ensure a happy homecoming.

It is going to be a gradual process in introducing your baby to the pet. Dogs anyways sense the change in you while you are pregnant. When I was pregnant I was slower and obviously bigger and our dog Lara the bullmastiff cued on these differences. She knew and she was more protective towards me. It might sound silly to non-pet owners, but it is true. While Simbah (the lab) & Diego the baby beagle were busy being boys. I was always confident about our homecoming with the baby, as we knew they were all very gentle and loving dogs. But if you are unsure send a baby blanket with your hubby first, maybe a day before. Let them get used to the scent and associate it with something positive as your husband or his master is introducing the scent. The day you arrive make the father hold the baby and you pet the dog/cat first as they are waiting for you.

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Secondly, if your dog has never been around babies, let your friends with babies come around more often. For us, we got the little naughty baby beagle before we got pregnant. (Actually I didn’t realise I was pregnant) so our bigger dogs already got used to a new baby coming to the house and husband 4-year-old nephew was always visiting so we were lucky that ways.

Talk to your pet, tell them about a new brother or sister soon to be coming home.

Stocking up toys and treats is another great way to make the dog feel that it is a good change and nothing’s changed for him/her.

I feel kids grow up to be more loving, kind and generous growing up with pets. Although childhood isn’t always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through various stages in their life. Dogs are a great source of comfort for kids.

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Honestly, I get enraged when parent put their fears into the child. “Beta, don’t go near that dog, it’ll bite” “don’t touch the dog, it’s a diseased dog.” Being careful and instilling prejudice is different. According to research, babies who grow up in homes with a pet — namely a dog or a cat — are less likely to get sick than children who live pet-free. They develop a sense of responsibility. They learn empathy and compassion; self-esteem grows, as they know they can take care of their pet-owning responsibilities.

It is not an easy job to manage pets and babies, but it doesn’t mean you will neglect the pet. It is unfair! Make sure your dogs get their timely meals, exercise and walks. If it gets too much, get a dog walker to walk them but stick to the normal schedule.

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Last but not the least, one of the greatest benefits of dogs in early childhood is simply that they make children happy! Their relationship will grow stronger as they grow. My daughter simply loves the dogs and they are always very gentle with her. They share a strong bond and it is adorable.

Parents, it’s going to be all right. Don’t worry.

Sending love & luck from my toddler and my pooches!

(In a particular order, she lives her life with the motto :- Dance, Smile, Giggle, Marvel. A full-time mommy of a delightful two-and-half year old girl, Pakhi Beri is a chocolatier, designer and freelance photographer in no random order.)

***The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Focus News. The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.