'We always knew we wanted a dog once we bought our first home and as I knew someone who’d adopted their lovely dog through Wild at Heart Foundation, I'd already decided where we were going to find one.
However, by the time we got the house I was around 20 weeks pregnant so was unsure whether this would be the best time to get one. Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend had contacted Eve to “just see” if there might be one we could consider. Next thing, there was picture and description of the most gorgeous, smiley dog in my inbox. He'd only recently been rescued from living in a small cage and Eve had selected him because he appeared to be gentle and eager to please. He'd passed the test with children, but would he pass the real-life baby test?! Everyone we spoke to seemed to think not and advised us against it...but we were already in love with him just from the email, so we decided to send off the form!
Santi arrived 10 weeks before baby was due...I'll never forget meeting him for the first time, he actually bounced out of the van! We tried to put a seatbelt harness on him but failed because all he wanted were belly rubs! We got a lot of brilliant behavioural advice from David and took him to obedience classes soon after, where he passed with flying colours (must be the eager to please part). One of the things we did to prepare him for baby was play crying noises whilst holding a doll. At first he looked all stressed and jumped up at the doll, which was rather worrying. After a few more plays he actually seemed to calm down. We had to set some firm boundaries, like no upstairs and no jumping up at people. It was hard to enforce these at times, when there was a little cute face looking up at you!
Once baby arrived, Santi continued to be the gentle and loving boy we'd got to know. We were naturally a bit anxious when we brought her home from hospital, but he was just inquisitive. There wasn’t any jumping up when she cried, much to our relief! He did try and get involved with nappy changes (not a good time for a belly rub, Santi) but this was solved when we were loaned a changing table.
We‘ve now had Santi for 14 months and really couldn't imagine life without him in our family. Even my 2 friends who are scared of dogs admit he is an exception for them! Our 1 year old daughter absolutely loves him and can often be spotted 'chatting' away to him. Her face lights up when she sees him and “Tanti” was the second word she said after “Dada”! Even though we have to revisit some of the training methods every now and then for his recall and lead pulling, we couldn't have got a better dog and I'm so glad we ignored everyone's advice!
Having a dog and a baby is such a huge commitment, but watching the two of them together is wonderful and makes it worth every second! Obviously a common sense approach is needed and we have baby gates and no-go zones for both of them (e.g. food and bed areas!)
Adopting Santi and seeing him thrive really is one of the best feelings. Whether it’s snoozy cuddles, our daughter laughing at his waggy tail or watching him run around with doggy mates, he brings us a lot of joy!
Thank you for finding us our top boy Wild at Heart Foundation!'
- Becky Garforth