Making Room for Dog and Baby (or Six)
The Perkins family rescues a dog, and learns they have six new babies on the way.
Lynn Hayner |
Posted: September 11, 2014, 10 a.m. PST
Often, life seems to make decisions for us. While we prepare as best we can, sometimes we’re surprised to find out just how little we can anticipate its curveballs. Many families find themselves living with dogs and babies in the same household, for example, but occasionally, extraordinary circumstances come about. When the Perkins first adopted Maggie May, they didn’t have an inkling of what awaited them just a short while later.
Our First Baby
"Maggie May had been found by animal control wandering near a Houston airport,” says Lauren Perkins of Pearland, Texas. "My husband David and I adopted Maggie, our first baby of sorts, from the Red Collar Rescue in December of 2010.” The rescue volunteers and veterinarian guessed Maggie was 1 year old at the time, and that her breed mix included Brittany, Golden Retriever, and Australian Shepherd.
Eager for companionship, Maggie blended easily into the couple’s life, although she wasn’t keen on the crate idea. "Maggie found clever ways -- including prying open a crate’s bars -- to escape our indoor confinement plans,” Lauren says. "I’d pull into our driveway after work and find her sitting in the window rather than in her crate.” Maggie caused little trouble other than barking at letter carriers, so the Perkins soon gave her the run of the house.
An avid runner, Lauren included Maggie in her daily jogs, and David added playtimes and walks to ensure Maggie had enough exercise. "Lauren took the lead with dog training, since she’s a school psychologist and understands the concepts behind animal training,” says David, an information technology analyst. "I do, however, take full credit for teaching Maggie her signature trick, the High-five.”
Six New Additions
In 2011, around the same time Maggie was experimenting with offering high-fives to get out of Down-stays, the Perkins learned their family was growing in a rather big way: Lauren was carrying sextuplets. "Early on, well-meaning friends, presuming we couldn’t care for a dog and six babies, asked us if we were giving Maggie away,” David says. "Over the next nine months, we made many plans, but giving Maggie up wasn’t an option. She was family.”
As the pregnancy progressed, Lauren curtailed her exercise. "Maggie and I had to give up jogging when I was on bed rest, but she seemed to understand I couldn’t run her,” Lauren says.
"She’d keep me company all day and wouldn’t even ask for a walk until David came home from work.”In April 2012, Allison, Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, and Levi were born, and the days of rest for Lauren and David disappeared. While the babies were still in the hospital, Lauren and David familiarized Maggie to their scents by bringing home baby clothes the infants had worn. "After much anticipation on our part, on the day we brought the first two babies home, Maggie simply acknowledged them with a sniff, and ran for a toy to give us,” David says. When the other four babies came home, Maggie welcomed them with equally as little fanfare. "She showed more interest in the volunteers that came to help than the babies themselves,” Lauren adds. "Probably because the helpers could throw her favorite squeaky chicken leg toy, and the babies couldn’t.”
Living with Wee Folk
Maggie now spends her days in baby-land. A child gate surrounds the babies’ main play area, but Maggie can wander in when Lauren supervises. "Maggie’s light on her feet, and she navigates around the babies and their toys rather smoothly,” Lauren says. "She also helps keep the floor under the babies’ high chairs clean, although she turns her nose up at their rice pops.”
The sextuplets weren’t mobile in their first year, so Maggie called the shots about interaction. Now, with the babies’ gaining mobility, the tables are turning. "Andrew, Maggie’s biggest fan, follows her in his walker, squealing with glee and picking up her toys,” Lauren says. When Maggie needs a break, she’s finds secluded spots, such as under the piano, to rest. "She chooses to hang out in the family room all day, so clearly she values companionship above peace and quiet,” Lauren says. "Fortunately, our babies don’t need quiet either; they’ve always slept through Maggie’s barking.”
Unless it’s raining, every afternoon Lauren takes the six babies out in the stroller. "All day, Maggie lets me focus on baby care,” Lauren says. "But once my tennis shoes go on, she runs for her leash and bounces with excitement about our walk.” If friends or family offer to push the stroller, Lauren takes Maggie on a run. "When I take the stroller so Lauren can run Maggie, we have to take different routes,” David says. "If Maggie sees the stroller, she tries to pull Lauren back to the pack.”
The saddest time of the week for Maggie is Saturday evening, when all eight of the Perkins leave for church. "When we come home, she greets each baby individually with a kiss or two as I bring them in, one by one, from the van,” David says.
Maggie May is a big part of a big family, and a long way from her days of wandering alone on the streets of Houston. "Maggie will like the babies even more when they can toss her favorite squeaky chicken leg toy,” David says. "We’re all looking forward to the day she teaches the children to high-five her right back.”
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