Australians sure love our pets. In fact, two out of three families share their homes with a pet, usually a cat or a dog. But what happens when couples switch from being a family with only fur babies to a family with real babies as well? We asked celebrity vet Dr Lisa Chimes to share some tips on pet transition success with Babyology.
And, she has some pretty exciting news of her own to share as well!
Dr Lisa Chimes certainly has been busy since Bondi Vet. In between chasing a toddler around (she and her husband, Brad Nissen welcomed their first son, Hudson, in May 2013), and starring in Channel Nine’s Dr Lisa to the Rescue, she has also written two adorable children’s books, My First Puppy and My First Kitten, both aimed at teaching children to look after their pets.
We were lucky enough to chat to Dr Lisa about her new show, her tips on being a parent to both a pet and a baby, and her next big project in the works – transitioning from being a mum of one to a mum of two!
Most mums are well aware that being a parent (especially a parent to a toddler!) is hard work. And Lisa, who is due with baby number two in September, is not afraid to admit that juggling family, career, pets and pregnancy is a challenge.
In between bouts of nausea, pregnancy aches and long working days, Lisa loves nothing more than spending her downtime with her family at a dog-friendly park or visiting animal-friendly attractions.
And two-year-old Hudson has already adopted his mum’s love of animals. Lisa says her son, whom she describes as “confident, affectionate, determined, gentle and analytical,” is a little clone of her. “He takes after his mother – very bossy and very self-sufficient,” she tells us.
Before having kids Lisa promised herself that she wouldn’t let a baby change her life. Now, she admits, “life revolves around whatever Hudson’s routine is”.
But it’s not just Hudson who is the master of the household. He shares the spotlight with the family’s two Cavalier cross poodles, six-year-old Lucas and 10-year-old Nelson. “Our son sleeps in his own bed, in his room, every single night. But the dogs somehow always manage to sleep with me,” Lisa jokes.
Lisa says making the transition from a mum of a fur baby to a mum of a human baby isn’t only difficult for the parents, but also the pets. Here are her top tips for getting animals ready for their human siblings.
Preparing your pets for a new baby should start before baby comes home. “If your dog is not used to kids, start by introducing your pet to friends who have children,” she suggests.
“Get the pet used to the sounds and smells of the baby, especially the sound of crying.” That middle of the night cry and ear piecing newborn scream can be quite alarming, especially for a dog. “Play a YouTube video of a baby crying and reward your pet when he remains calm.”
“Try and include your pet as much as possible. Get your pet used to any changes in routine before the baby comes so your pet doesn’t associate the baby with abandonment.”
It’s also a good idea to get your pet used to the smell of a newborn. “When in hospital, ask a family member to bring home an item of clothing that the baby wore for the pet to sniff,” she says.
“Finally, if you haven’t got a pet, but you are thinking about having children, do not get a pet. Don’t use a pet as a tester for having a child. Wait a few years before having kids or wait until the kids are a bit older and can appreciate a pet before getting one.”
Fortunately for Lisa, her dogs adapted well to Hudson and vice versa. And she says that he also shows signs of being a doting big brother.
“Hudson is one of those children who has to be involved in everything – the typical eldest child. He already tries to put food in my belly button for the baby and puts baby clothes on my tummy to keep the baby warm.”
We wish Lisa and her beautiful family all the best. We cannot wait to hear the news that another little Chimes has joined the brood.
(images via Leah Weinstein Photography)