family

"My dog sensed I was going into labour hours before it began."

They say a dog is a man’s best friend, and this is definitely the case with my partner, Eddy, and our dog Diego.

Diego, our Jack Russell cross Fox Terrier, is more than a pet to us – he’s  our first-born son (with fur). If he isn’t playing he always has to be touching one of us, and he sleeps under the blankets at the bottom of our bed every night. 

Sleeping with your dog at night is good for you! Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Every day he goes to work with his human dad on the various job sites he works at, he travels in the car and then like a canine apprentice he works (or plays and sleeps) alongside him all day. He is never on a lead; he will just come when he is called. He is a loyal and loving dog that has always shown us great affection, especially Eddy.

But since I became pregnant, Diego seemed to know something was changing. His affections, although still more directed toward his father, became shared a little more evenly.

I first noticed the shift one day when I was walking down the stairs from our top floor apartment. Before I was pregnant Diego used to run down the eight flights of stairs and wait at the bottom, but as the months of my pregnancy went on and the stairs grew more difficult to navigate, one day I noticed him waiting at every half level of the stairs for me to catch up. He did this the entire way down like he was watching out for me and continued to do this for the remainder of my pregnancy. 

And while sometimes in the evenings he occasionally came close to my baby belly, he never got too close and never laid on it. It was as if he knew to be careful. 

Just as Diego showed Eddy and I respect and loyalty we also showed it to him by involving him in our human baby journey (after all, he was going to be a big brother.) From our announcement that we were expecting, to sharing the news we were having a boy, Diego was always a part of the big moments because simply put, he is our family. 

dog senses
"Diego was always a part of the big moments." Image: Supplied
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Despite our close bond, I never expected what happened in the lead up to my labour.

I was a couple of days overdue and had been on maternity leave for a few weeks, so I was around the apartment a lot more. Even though I had spent more time with Diego because of this, not much changed in our family dynamic. But the day before I went into labour, Diego changed.

From the morning I woke, Diego literally wouldn’t leave me alone. Usually it’s Eddy that he follows everywhere but, on this particular day, it was me. Every time I moved from room to room he would follow me. If I shifted on my seat in the lounge he would notice, lift his head and watch me to see if I was getting up.

dog senses
"He sat on my legs, right underneath my bump almost all day." Image: Supplied
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And most significantly, for the first time since being pregnant, he rested his head fur-to-skin on my belly. He sat on my legs, right underneath my bump, almost all day.

When we went to bed that night, Diego cuddled up to my belly rather than to Eddy or at the bottom of the bed which he’d normally do.

dog senses
"Diego cuddled up to my belly rather than to Eddy." Image: Supplied

That night at 1.15am my contractions started.  

When they first began Diego stayed with me on the bed. As they grew more intense he gave me space but still stayed in the room, and he was always watching me, making sure I was okay. Once the decision was made that it was time to go to the hospital, Diego tried to come with us. He didn’t want to move from my side.

Looking back on what happened that day, it is so clear that this change in Diego’s behaviour was him sensing my labour. He knew that something was about to happen to me and was right by me, supporting me through it. You hear about how instinctive animals are in sensing things like this often, from earthquakes and natural disasters to impending death in hospital patients, so why wouldn’t they be able to sense this too? 

Our family of three has since become four. Our first human born, Leo, joined us later that day.

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