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From Puppies to Parenthood: A Tale of Tough Choices

A sleeping chihuahua and pekalier
A love like no other

It was a hot summers morning in February 2012 (we were living in South Africa), when we went to

just go and look at puppies. The last thing we ever expected was to come home with a deer-head

chihuahua. But he stole our hearts from the moment we saw him, and Nacho became part of the


Deer Head Chihuahua Puppy
Those Ears!

A couple of months later, we were at a market and came across a pop-up pet shop which didn’t look

the best. There was one little puppy in the corner of the cage, looking very sad, and I realised I

wouldn’t be able to go home without it. Even if it was ill, we could give it a better life for the time it

had left.

This puppy ended up being a very healthy Pekalier, called Nunu Suki, with a big personality. They

weren’t your conventional pair of dogs, but they were the best of friends. Life partners!

A pekalier puppy
Our real life Gizmo (Gremlins)

In 2014 we had our first baby, our little boy Diego. Nacho became his guard dog, and just wanted to

be with him at all times. Nunu didn’t mind whether he was there or not, but never had any issues

with him, and would quite happily give Diego a little sniff and then lie next to his bouncer…. while

Nacho always wanted to be on his lap. Good thing he was a chihuahua and not a Labrador!

We made the decision to move back to the UK in 2017 and without a second thought we started the

process to bring them both with us. They arrived before us and went to stay with my sister as they

had a lovely big garden for them to explore. We visited them as often as we could, and as soon as

we had a place with a garden that allowed pets, we brought them back to live with us in 2018.

We had just found out I was pregnant with our second child, Diego was happy to have his dogs back,

and I was working from home full time, so I was always there with the dogs. But Nunu started to

change. If she woke from sleeping and couldn’t see me, she would whimper and howl, and she

wouldn’t calm down until she knew exactly where I was.

As my bump grew, taking them out on walks became tricky. At first, I thought I was imagining it, but

it started happening every day - Nunu would wrap her lead around my legs while I was walking, or

she would refuse to walk and I eventually couldn’t take her out anymore. My husband would have

to take her lead.

The dogs had gone from sharing a bed and doing everything together, to Nacho being too scared to

come in the house. She would snap at him if he came close to her, and we had to separate them at

night, feeding time, etc. My husband went back to South Africa to visit family, 6 weeks before my

due date, and Nunu went into a flying attack on Nacho. Chairs, etc were being knocked over, while

the dogs were rolling around our dining room. I picked Diego up and threw him on the couch and

had to put myself between the dogs and my child. I called my sister to come and take Nunu for the

night, as my poor little Nacho had suffered a nasty gash to his chin/jaw and was trembling with


When my husband returned a few days later, we brought Nunu back to the house. I hadn’t felt safe

to do so before as she kept growling at me when I went near her. Even with my husband there, she

still growled at me and I had to keep my distance. A far cry from the cuddles we used to have


Our baby girl, Demi, was born mid-2019, and I wrongly assumed she would be welcomed by the dogs

the same way they did Diego. Nacho was no problem; he became her little protector – standing next

to her like a statue making sure no harm would come her way. But it wasn’t the same for Nunu. She

would bare her teeth every time she saw Demi, and we sadly had to put Nunu outside or in another

room when we needed to put baby down anywhere, because we weren’t sure what she would do.

Demi had jaundice, colic, reflux, infant neutropenia, tongue tie (twice!) and needed cranial

osteopathy after a kiwi cup birth, so she needed a lot of extra attention, and I sadly didn’t have the

time to give to the dogs with trying to look after myself and 2 young kids (on max 3-4 hours sleep a

night), and with my husband working in London 4 days a week.

Nunu started messing all over the house and wasn’t the happy dog she used to be. We sent both

dogs to stay with my mom and sister, but Nunu still wasn’t happy if we went round to visit, and

would get very jealous of anyone who held Demi. We had to make the really difficult decision to

rehome them, together. It was one of the hardest choices we have had to make; they were our

babies before we had babies but, in this situation, we had to put our child’s safety first.

We never knew all the steps to take before bringing a new baby into the house, and never thought a second new addition would affect our family pet in such a way. I wish we had been better prepared, but no one we knew had ever mentioned having such an experience with their dog and new baby.

Nunu and Nacho went to a loving new home together, and we have been told that they are really

happy with their new family. We still miss them terribly though, and Diego talks about them all the

time (Nunu was one of his first words!). We will look to get another puppy, one day (a pet makes a

house a home!). For now, JJ the hamster is keeping us entertained.

If you have pets as part of your family, and would like to make sure they are comfortable and prepared for your new arrival, be sure to check out our "Paws & Pacifiers" virtual workshop, hosted by Kelly DeBaene, a small animal veterinarian with over 10 years of experience working in general practice and animal shelter settings in both the United States and the Netherlands.

Blog By: Jody Rasteiro, The Labour Dept. Team Member


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