Rudy’s New Human: A Q & A with the author
Local Miami author Roxanna Elden was inspired to write “Rudy’s New Human,” thanks to her experience with her first pregnancy and her beloved pup, Rudy. The book is told from the point of view of Rudy, a scrappy schnauzer mix who is ready to share his life with his new sister but encounters some unexpected experiences on the road to becoming his new human’s friend.
This is a great book for kids aged three to six, especially children expecting their first little brother or sister, since it touches on many important lessons on building bonds of friendship and overcoming obstacles. “Rudy’s New Human” is beautifully illustrated by Ginger Seehafer, and at 32 pages it is the perfect length for story time. While it’s not meant as a training tool (there are many online resources for introducing dogs to babies and children for that), it’s a great conversation starter for learning how pets might feel around new children.
Being pet care providers, we were curious to know Roxanna’s inspiration, process, and research behind “Rudy’s New Human”!
Rudy’s New Human: A dog’s POV on its new baby
1. The inspiration for “Rudy’s New Human” was from personal experience with Rudy and your own child. How did you prepare Rudy for meeting his new family member?
Rudy was already about 6 years old when my older child was born. In dog years, that’s already middle aged! While he wasn’t too old to learn new tricks, he mostly kept his old habits – sleeping on the couch, sniffing at the cabinet where we keep his treats, and obeying commands only when visible lunchmeat is involved.
2. How did Rudy react to a new baby in the house initially, and has that changed?
Rudy was very good with the kids, but he definitely noticed the change in how much attention he received. There were many moments where he gave us the canine cold shoulder and walked into the other room to sleep.
3. After going through the experience, what would you tell first-time mothers/couples about what to expect with bringing in baby, and the first tender months?
It’s natural to experience some “pet parent guilt” at first. After all, your dog was the baby of your family before you had human children. Now, suddenly, you’re juggling vet and pediatrician visits, dog feeding and baby feeding, and yeah… maybe have forgotten to clip the dog’s nails for a while, okay?
4. Would you do anything differently knowing what you know now?
Right before my second baby was due, I took Rudy to the groomers and got his fur trimmed as short as possible. It wasn’t his favorite look, but it was an improvement over the first time around, when he suffered through the Miami summer heat surrounded by a puffy, fur coat. I also remind pregnant pet parent friends to schedule a pre-baby vet checkup and get all the dog’s shots up to date. If you have a big dog that needs walking, you might also want to have a dog walker or pet sitter on call to come make sure the dog is taken care of. Even though you’ll be home, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of care the baby requires – and your schedule will definitely get thrown off!
5. Does Rudy go on book tours with you?
With two kids under three in the house, there hasn’t been much of a book tour, but Rudy does tag along on dog friendly book talks and school visits. At our book release event at Books and Books in Coral Gables, he felt like a “bone-afied” celebri-dog.
6. How do you discipline Rudy with your child, and vice versa?
Rudy needed to learn not to chew with the kids’ toys. In his defense, though, baby toys look a lot like dog toys! The kids needed practice and direction to learn to “pet Rudy nicely.” As most dogs can tell you, this means no ear-tugging, tail-pulling, paw-snatching, grabbing of loose skin, or petting of eyes and nose. To keep things simple, I’ve narrowed this list down to three guidelines that I review with my own children and also with students at school visits:Pet gently, no grabbing, and only pet the dog on his back.
As you can see, pregnancy does not mean your dog has to go! Five of our dog walking clients have had babies this year or will be having them, and all of them have kept their pooches around. They are dog people, and understand that a pet is family and an asset for their babies, yet also an animal that should be prepared and trained to welcome a new being. With proper training and supervision, they can be baby’s first best friend!
You can purchase your copy of Rudy’s New Human on Amazon. Enjoy!