Canine Sibling Rivalry

One of my colleagues recently became a grandmother! I asked her yesterday how the new family was doing, and she said that the parents and baby are fine, happy, healthy...but the family dog is perturbed. I said, "There should be a new-baby-in-the-house book for dogs!" and we both laughed for a minute and then simultaneously remembered that there actually is such a book: Madeleine L'Engle's The Other Dog, in which Touche the Poodle catalogs the ways in which the new "dog" that her people have brought home is utterly inferior to her own charming self. Touche is particularly scornful of the diaper-changing that she witnesses, noting sniffily that "White cloths or no, I would never do it in the house," but eventually admits that "in spite of myself...I am getting very fond of our other dog."

L'Engle's book isn't the only one where a dog has to adjust to a tiny, screamy, attention-monopolizing intruder. As it turns out, there is a whole mini-genre on the topic. In McDuff and the Baby, by Rosemary Wells and Susan Jeffers, the scrappy little Westie, who first appeared as a stray rescued by Fred and Lucy in McDuff Moves In, faces disruption in his cozy retro household. With the arrival of the baby, Fred and Lucy no longer read the comics to McDuff, or take him for walks, and he can't hear the radio over the baby's crying. He retaliates, in charmingly understated fashion, by glowering at the baby (which no one notices), and then by refusing his food, which does get Fred and Lucy's attention. When they make an effort to include McDuff, he and the baby begin to enjoy each other's company, and the book ends with the two exchanging convivial "woof"s. 

In Truelove, by Babbette Cole, the displaced hero is so demoralized by the change in the household that, after all his gifts and advances are ignored, and the love song he sings (or howls) for the baby gets him kicked out to the porch for being too loud, he runs away and joins a pack of homeless dogs and has to be rescued from the pound. The fact that this story is told mostly in the pictures, while the text is a series of cliched sayings about love ( like "Love gives you strength" and "Love makes your heart sing," ) makes it all the more poignant. 

Any of these would be a great present for a family with a new baby and a beloved dog...or a beloved older sibling, who might be able to relate!

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