How Our Dog Went From Hating Kids to Being Our Daughter’s Best Friend

Here is 21 month old Harper and our JRT Frisco doing what they do all day; loving, playing, kissing. They have a special bond and he really looks after her. But it wasn’t always that way.

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In Frisco’s almost 11 years, he had only met a handful kids before our own. The first time we realized how serious his fear of kids was happened about 10 years ago when a kid came over out of nowhere on a walk and tried to hug him. He snapped and bit. Nothing serious but it was enough to scare us from allowing him to get close to kids again. We’d test him every now and again by keeping him behind the glass French doors of Mike’s office outside our living room when friends would have their kids over. We’d have them casually walk by to see if his feelings changed. They never did and his strong reaction of jumping against the glass and barking like crazy stayed the exact same with each attempt. Our attitude for so long was pretty much ‘it’s fine because we don’t have kids’ so we’d hide him in our room for parties and go on with life. Until I got pregnant.

One of my first few thoughts after the general shock of finding out I was pregnant wore off was literally oh shit. What about Frisco? We were on our third trainer at that point. The first idiot sprayed his eyes with vinegar to show his dominance over the dog (even when he was just sniffing him since he wasn’t aggressive toward adults) which caused him to squint and rub his red eyes for days after. He also walked him over to a yard with two barking dogs (yeah, he also freaks out about other dogs especially on walks) then he yelled and yanked on his leash repeatedly while Frisco lunged and barked. This went on for several minutes until I had tears in my eyes, it was brutal to watch. We knew we didn’t like what he was doing but he made us promise we wouldn’t get in the way of his training since that was the biggest challenge he said he faced- unruly owners. Frisco had a hard time breathing after all the yanking and force and he coughed and wheezed for several days after. I cried that night. We didn’t protect him and I’m sure he was scared.

The next guy was well, I guess worthless douche sums it up nicely. He wasn’t aggressive but looking back he had no experience in dog aggression and had us do inane training exercises like making Frisco sit or lay down mid-walk which of course Frisco did perfectly every time to earn his treat. He said that this calmed him and taught him to obey so when kids came around he’d defer to us. Not so much. Nothing changed and we grew more frustrated and worried that we’d never get the help we needed.

Then by some miracle I got to talking with a client whose makeup I was doing when she mentioned how she trains aggressive dogs. She didn’t live in Colorado but she just met someone who did through a workshop so with newfound hope I set up a time for Jen with Dances With Woofs to come by and see if she could help our Frisc.

Right away I knew she got us. She was loving to Frisco and used praise and treats instead of any type force. She explained that he was aggressive because he was afraid and not to mistake his loud, boisterous behavior for confidence. Any force or harshness would only scare him and could make his behaviors worse. We started slowly with waking calmly past other dogs first from a distance then getting a little closer so he stayed calm. We also taught him a flight response since he was programmed to fight instead. We were giving him options for new behaviors and we could see that it was working. Now fast forward a year or so when I became pregnant. We had done some work with kids – getting Frisco calm while walking him around a busy park – but nothing too intimate. He definitely wasn’t visiting sick children at the hospital or whatever. A few weeks before my due date we rehearsed Harper’s arrival like a damn school play. Sniff her hat, plug in the pheromone diffuser thingy, give treats, pet him, let him maybe sniff her, live happily ever after. Done. But when the time came what actually happened was; walk in the door, Frisco sees the baby, he jumps up in the air repeatedly trying to snap at her in our arms while barking and going as crazy as we’ve ever seen. Oh God, we hadn’t planned for this at all. we had to put him (and our other dog Meatball whose temperament is perfectly neutral) in Mike’s office while we could get our barrings and devise a new plan.

We let him calm a bit and tried again. After all, he hadn’t laid eyes on a baby in years so maybe he was in shock or mistook her for a baby bunny or some shit that calls for this sort of crazed reaction. Here we go- treats in hand, diffuser plugged in, hat sniffed, come on out. Same. Terrible. Thing. In fact every time we tried this over the course of a week his reaction never changed. Just as loud, just as strong, just as scary. I felt hopeless. This along with the c-section recovery, postpartum depression, and general WTF-ness that comes along with being a new mom made those few weeks hands down the darkest of my life. I broke down sobbing to Mike because we both knew what was inevitable. Frisco would have to be put down. He wasn’t adoptable – a dog who hates kids and other dogs? We knew his fate.

After a few weeks Jen came to see us. We had been tethering a long leash from his harness to various furniture so he could be out with us and not locked up in a room all the time. He was sullen and confused which only made us feel more guilty and terrible about the whole thing. She gave us some very basic things to do; give him treats and praise for even looking her way and keep him walked and exerted, along with a few other things to get him feeling better about his new roommate. She told us to hang in there and not give up on him, she had hope. Her encouragement and help was just what we needed. I ran out of hope that he would be with us even another month. The stress was so great and the threat of him constantly looming was too much for me. But we weren’t ready to give up on our Frisc and we started doing exactly as Jen said. After just a few weeks we started making little tiny steps forward. We sent her pictures like this one of the first time Frisco got close to Harper without jumping up at her.

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We’d take turns cuddling the dogs while the other had the baby. Mike took this of me napping with them.

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And then one day this happened. I’m pretty sure I was crying.

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Eventually the tethering stopped and our trust started to build. The more mobile she became the more she wanted to hug and kiss him. We taught her how to pet him nicely and never let her touch him without us- until one day she did. We gasped and watched as he gently licked her and walked away. It was the beginning of their friendship as it is now which is so sweet. We trust him 100% with her, something we talk about often and are still amazed by. He has come such a long way that when we brought Everly home he was basically like *yawn* another baby? Who cares.

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Frisco, waiting outside Harper’s door while she sleeps.

Jen totally made it possible for us to keep Frisco in our lives. She helped to brighten his little soul and make him a more confident guy. She did the impossible- she taught an dog new tricks and for that we are so grateful.

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My Life Lately

If you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, these pics pretty much sum it up. Everly is now 3 months and Harper is 21 so I’m elbows deep into this mother of two thing. Aside from everything taking a little more time, I find it to be much easier than I ever thought possible- really it’s not much different than having just one. Helping me big time is the fact that they both sleep through the night and aren’t much for crying (thank god I discovered comfort nursing with Harper!) so I’m getting some sleep. Best of all is my sweet hubby who works from home so he tags in when he can which helps a ton. Just knowing that he’s here when I need him is such a blessing and takes a lot of stress away.

That said.

I’m still always tired from the broken sleep of Evie nursing once in the night, Harper is in constant motion, and my thyroid is still out of whack so not only is my hair still falling out in clumps, but sometimes I’m so overcome with exhaustion that I’ve fallen asleep nursing with my head hanging down. I’ll wake up with Evie staring at me like ‘really mom?’

So there’s that.

But! How cute are these girls? I mean seriously?! There’s little Evie at 3 months perfectly perched in her chair. She’s always smiling and just beams whenever anyone looks her way. And then there’s sweet Harper who is the most gentle and loving soul I’ve ever met giving her sister a squeeze (whether she likes it or not.) She’s obsessed with Evie sitting on her lap and gives her a million kisses throughout the day. The other pic is Harper holding onto Evie’s head while I nursed her last week which I thought was beyond sweet. And the last hard to see pic is me with Harper in her crib. I jump in with her everyday at 5:30 to wake her up from her nap. She’s all sleepy and cuddly so we hang out until she wakes up a little then head down to make dinner together. Everyday I swear she’s the perfect age, her personality just keeps getting bigger and she’s so smart. We’re so lucky to have these little girls in our lives.

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Products for Your Baby That You Should Be Using Too

One of the perks of being a Johnson’s Baby ambassador is getting to try all sorts of products. And because babies are small and bottles are big I’ve found myself borrowing from the girl’s supply. Here are a few things that are made for babies but make my life easier too.

Intense Moisture Cream is an end table mainstay now that Everly is born. When I’m pregnant (is this everyone or just me?) I never use lotion or lip balm or much of anything in terms of moisturizers because my skin is mysteriously smooth at all times. This lasts up until basically the second the baby is born, then my skin is beyond parched – like it’s making up for lost time.

Typically I’d use a little coconut oil but my hands are so dry that the oil doesn’t absorb. So now I’ve been using this cream throughout the day which absorbs quick and softens without a greasy feel. I’ve even put some in a small plastic jar that I keep in the diaper bag (ahem- travel size please?!) so I’m never without it.

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When our family was staying with us over the holidays, my sister in law ran out of her facial cleansing wipes she uses at night so I gave her some of these washcloths to use. They’re bigger and thicker than a traditional face cloth and they foam up with tear-free suds that clean the face gently without stripping the skin. I use them to clean off Everly when blowouts strike- they’re the next best thing to an actual bath- but I found they’re the perfect makeup remover and face wash on those nights where I can barely peel myself off the couch to stumble into bed.

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I’ve been removing my eye makeup with baby shampoo for about 15 years now. Its gentle formula doesn’t burn your eyes and the cleanser removes even waterproof makeup. A small dot on a damp cotton pad is all you need so one bottle can last years. I also use it to clean makeup brushes after I first noticed that harsher soaps broke down the bristles leaving me to replace expensive brushes too quickly.

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I don’t use baby powder on my girls but had some looking right at me when I ran out of my Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo a few weeks ago. A quick check to the label showed fewer (and cleaner) ingredients in the Johnson’s powder which uses corn starch instead of Blandi’s rice starch to absorb moisture (aka greasy hair) which also happens to bulk up roots and give some serious volume. My hair is still falling out in clumps because of my crazy thyroid so I’ve been sprinkling some baby powder on my roots to give some much needed lift. I have to say that I love the baby powder and think it works better than the hair powder. It is pure white of course so if your hair is dark don’t sprinkle it directly on top of your head, hide it underneath the top layers of hair and get it close to the roots to keep it undetectable.

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Post sponsored by Johnson’s Baby. All content and opinions are my own.

Happy 1 Month Birthday Everly!

On November 29th we took a long overdue family photo for Everly’s 1 month birthday. It’s amazing to see her mind working with all of her preferences she already has right out of the gate. She’ll search for my hand to hold when I nurse her, she doesn’t like pacifiers or being swaddled, and she locks eyes on you smiling and laughing once he has your attention. She has been a complete joy, we’re so excited for her to be here in time for Christmas.

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Mustela PhysiObébé Cleansing Fluid for Babies and Sensitive Skin

Mustela’s PhysiObébé is the impossible to pronounce cleansing fluid I’ve been using on little Everly. It’s basically a bath in a bottle for infants when you don’t bathe them every day. I pump some onto a soft cloth and rub it on her hands, face, neck, and head at least once a day. It has kept her flakey cradle cap away as well as those bumps babies sometimes get on their faces. If I notice them coming on I wash her face with this fluid and literally within hours her skin is clear. It’s a natural formula that’s light as water and unscented. Best of all you don’t need to rinse, it’s meant to stay on the skin after cleansing and disappears quickly without leaving a film.

If it works this well on infant skin, it might be a perfect sensitive skin face wash for adults too. At just $14 a bottle it’s a better deal than most cleansers anyway – totally worth checking out.

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Happy Birthday Everly!

Happy Birthday to my daughter Everly Joy who was born October 29th. I just wanted to share a photo of her (all 8.12lbs!!) and let you know that all went well. I’ve barely set her down since she’s been home- it’s all so much easier the second time. Harper is getting used to having a sister and now gives her kisses and reaches out to touch her. We’re so happy and grateful to have a house buzzing with our happy girls.

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