When my husband and I moved to Memphis and started growing our home together, we knew we wanted to rescue dogs. In fact, we already had our eye on Orson while we were still on the east coast. We browsed the Humane Society of Memphis website and absolutely fell in love with this Labrador and Doberman mix, Orson. Orson had been abandoned by his previous owners but was in great hands with the Humane Society who were determined to find him a good home. Well, it was love at first sight for me; Orson is a dream. As soon as I met him, I knew he was ours. First it was just Orson and I; then soon after, my husband moved to Memphis and it was perfect. But we wanted more. Molly was found on the streets of Memphis and was sent to the pound, but thankfully the Humane Society took her in and she ended up making our little nest complete. Her street-smart personality is exactly what Orson needed to keep him on his toes.
It was many months of just bliss in our household, Orson and Molly were the light of our eyes, and then I got pregnant. They somehow knew there was someone growing inside of me. They followed my footsteps to every corner of our house, slept on and around me, and never let me out of their sight. Our son arrived in the fall of 2020 and in the beginning our dogs were not quite sure what to make of this crying jackal who was keeping us all up at night. But soon, over time, the unfamiliarity grew into love. Now I notice Orson and Molly nonchalantly sticking their tongues out to lick our son at every chance they get. And our son eyeing them around the house and cooing to make sure they are aware of his presence. We didn’t plan for it to go so well, but we are glad it is.
Not only have our four-legged babies shown us to live and love in the moment, they are also proving to be pivotal in our son’s growth. On a daily basis, our son is witnessing the love and care we provide to our dogs. He notices us petting, cuddling, and playing with our dogs. And we can’t wait to see him interact with the dogs more as he continues to grow. The dogs have also found a new rhythm with our son in the house. At night, once the baby is asleep, we find ourselves on our couch with the dogs right beside us; it’s finally the time for the dogs to get our undivided attention.
Furthermore, research has shown that children who grow up with dogs are healthier in the first year of life. This is likely due to the early exposure to dander and dirt that dogs bring in with them, establishing sophistication and growth in the baby’s immune response. In addition, studies have shown owning pets correlates with healthier emotional and social connections as displayed in a longitudinal study of Australian children. This study revealed owning pets was associated with decreased chances of abnormal scores for emotional symptoms, peer issues, and positively correlated with prosocial behavior. Some studies have also elucidated introducing pets early on may lead to reduced anxiety, healthier mental form, and healthier weights in children.
Although a lot of questions are still being answered by ongoing research, as a parent, one thing is clear to me: giving my baby dogs as companions is the best gift that we could have given him. I am witnessing daily the loving bond that is evolving in our household between Orson, Molly, and our baby boy. Whether it’s the toys our dogs leave behind in the nursery, when they rush towards the nursery if they hear their baby brother crying, or the daily smooches they give our baby boy, I know for a fact Orson and Molly love our son.
I am already seeing our son react and respond to Orson and Molly by grabbing them every opportunity he can get, by sticking his hand out to be licked, or following them with his eyes. I know this bond is only going to get stronger as our baby continues to grow, and I cannot wait to witness this evolution. I know with time Orson and Molly are going to teach our son invaluable lessons in life; the health benefits they provide is a bonus. Orson and Molly will forever impact our son’s life and we hope our son will only return their love 100-fold over in every facet of his life.