Cooper & Alexandra – a story of a puppy and a baby

Cooper and Alexandra

by Michelle Graiff
photography by Elisabeth Nixon Photography

So the hubs and I decided to get a puppy. Thanksgiving 2009.

My hubs insisted on a Golden Retriever since this was the breed he had throughout his childhood. I did not grow up with dogs. I had a beautiful, white, fluffy cat I adored for about 5 years, but no dog. I, therefore, knew nothing about the needs and behaviors of a dog but I did want a Australian Shepherd. I knew that a dog is a man’s best friend, and that pretty much summed up my dog-knowledge. We made the schlep out to Sumterville and picked out the most adorable Golden Retriever of the litter. Well, they were all adorable and, honestly, I just tried to pick out the one that seemed the most laid back.

On New Year’s Eve 2009, we were finally able to pick up our little furry, red-haired puppy. He was 12 lbs of preciousness. We named him Cooper.

A few days later, I started having some severe breast pain. Not the normal getting your period boob aches, but REAL PAIN. The hubs thought I should take a pregnancy test. I agreed, even though I was not actually period-late. I agreed only because I had never before felt this type of pain.

But surprise! We were preggo! 9 ½ weeks, as it turned out – just as old as our Cooper. It was very confusing for me, since I thought I HAD a period the month before (but that’s another story).

I had never even heard of doggie day care before I began my research

So, here I was with a Golden Retriever puppy and I was 9 ½ weeks preggo. No big deal, right? WOW, how wrong! Dogs, especially puppies, particularly Golden Retrievers, need LOTS of attention and exercise. Not a very easy task, I learned, when you are preggers.

While I adored Cooper, I just did not have the energy or strength to take care of him. My body was growing a baby! But my husband worked 60 hours a week, so it really was ALL up to me. I could not bear to give Cooper up, so I went on a research quest for help. And I found what I consider our miracle – Bow Wow Resort.

I had never even heard of doggie day care before I began my research! But as soon as I took the tour of Bow Wow, I knew that our Cooper would love it. He would be able to socialize with other dogs and get to release all his energy. And I could focus on growing a baby!

After baby Alexandra (Lexi) was born, the hubs took the advice of many, many dog owner friends and family, and he brought Cooper a blanket that the baby had been wrapped in. While we were in the hospital, Cooper slept with baby Lexi’s blanket at Bow Wow Resort.

Our dog advisers also told us to bring the baby in the house first, before bringing Cooper into our home. Apparently, the dog then thinks the baby belongs there, as opposed to intruding on his space. At  first, Cooper was very curious. Since he was barely a year old, he was also just learning about everything. Then the curiosity wore off and the jealously followed. The hubs and I were lucky; he only took his jealousy out on us by CONSTANTLY demanding our attention. We really were solely to blame for that behavior, though. Cooper had been spoiled rotten! Before the baby, he had free reign of the house and even slept with us. When Lexi became mobile, we were concerned about her and Cooper vying for the same space. At that point, Cooper was about 80 pounds and still hyper as can be! We were really afraid he might unintentionally step on her or just knock her over as he walked by her. So we kept him gated out of the living room.  is caused more crying from him than from the baby.

As Lexi became more stable on her feet, we allowed them to roam together. I was so pleasantly surprised. Of course, Cooper was 18 months old then, but Golden Retrievers are notoriously not mature dogs – loving, sweet and pretty or handsome, but NOT mature.

However, to my joy and surprise, Cooper is absolutely amazing with our baby Lexi. Now, at 16 months old, she beats the heck out of him daily; she tries to ride him, pulls his hair, hits him in the nose, and he lies there, tolerating it all. It’s great! As it turns out, dogs are a toddling girl’s best friend too!

Doggie recommendations for preggos or families with young kiddos**:

Cooper and Alexandra prancing Large Breeds

  • Labrador or Golden Retriever
  • Bernese Mountain
  • Newfoundland
  • Mastiff

Small Breeds

  • King Charles Cavalier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Maltese
  • Pug

** It is important to note that these recommendations are based on behavior and temperament, as this is the most important factor for families with young children. However, as a parent to a small child and a clean freak, I occasionally get stressed out since my cleaning chores doubled with our lovey and VERY fluffy (as in constantly shedding) Golden Retriever. Almost all breeds shed, but at varying levels. It’s important to also research a breed’s grooming needs when making your choice as well.  The big hairy breeds may cause great joy and happiness, just keep in mind they might also require Merry Maids on speed-dial.

Top 4 things to do when bringing baby home with Fido:

  1. Training, Training, Training – preferably BEFORE bringing baby home.
  2. Don’t forget your pooch needs lots of love, attention and exercise.
  3. The pooch loves to sniff anything related to baby – blankets, towels, toys, etc. – and may also enjoy occasionally eating these items as well, so it is necessary to monitor the items to which he has access.
  4. For your own sanity – fence in your yard! You and your baby may actually be able to nap in peace if your pooch can freely roam the yard.

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