Jenn Morgan Danny Drake

Dog is a three letter word notoriously known as man's best friend. It also happens to be my daughter's third word, second favorite member of our family and most-spoken phrase. Being a dog lover myself, I actually couldn't be happier that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

While I was pregnant, one of my biggest fears was that my dogs would not be receptive of the new baby that was to enter into their home and consume their owner's attention and time. My husband and I read various articles on the topic of baby/dog introductions and consulted many parents who managed to maintain a harmonious dog and kid-friendly home.

I recall a particular article that included what I thought at the time to be a novel recommendation. The advice of this insane animal "expert" was to play the sounds of a baby crying throughout the house prior to the baby's arrival. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to cue up a YouTube video of an unhappy baby and let the melodic sounds of a screaming baby echo through our peaceful home. The dogs were not affected by the horrible screeching ... but I was. In less than 20 seconds, my agitation level rose and the volume level on the laptop was muted. Not sure if you feel the same way, but my thinking is that if you don't have a crying baby in the house, it's best not to create one.

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Knowing that the fetus in my womb could hear sounds, I thought I would take a different route and get the baby used to hearing the dogs. I encouraged the dogs to bark and bark often during playtime. After months of the in utero barking symphony, I am honestly surprised my daughter's first words were not "woof, woof".

After Isabella was delivered, my husband brought a receiving blanket home from the hospital so our furry companions would pick up on our infant's scent and know that she was a welcome member of our family.

Luckily, there was unanimous acceptance in the house between our pups and our infant. I cannot remember a time in the 15 fabulous months that we have been blessed with Isabella that there has been a problem between her and the dogs. Of course, we have had to keep a watchful eye on our little crew to be sure that a pup does not accidentally step on Isabella, or that she doesn't purposely pull on their tail, but there exists a tender love between our furriest members and our littlest member of the family.

Sadly, last Friday we had to bid farewell to our faithful and loving eldest dog, Bella. She was, without a doubt, the most perfect dog and companion that anyone could ask for. In our eyes, Bella, a pure-bred Border Collie, was our first baby. She blessed us with her vivacity and unconditional love, and continually amazed us with her high level of intelligence.

Although my husband and I are feeling the extreme loss of our loved one, thankfully Isabella is too young to understand that her canine sister will not be joining us on our walks or frolic with us in the yard. She is content to feed her unwanted food scraps to our other loved dog, Ava (aka Ding Dong.) Ava is not as intelligent as Bella ever was (hence the nickname Ding Dong), but she is just as loving to our little girl. When Isabella is upset and we cannot seem to get her to crack a smile, we rely on Ava to turn that frown upside down.

Our dogs have always been important members of our family, and for Isabella they have always been fun playmates whose faces she could see at eye-level as well as impressionable peers. Isabella has learned to pant like a dog, carry items in her mouth like a dog, and even get on all fours like a dog. I guess it really is true - dogs are a baby's best friend, too.


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