Blair Drummond Safari Park

A fun day out to see the animals

Sometimes I am taken by surprise about how fast M is growing up and I did just that when we went on a family trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park recently.

The first time we visited the safari park with M was when she was around 4 months old but fast forward 14 months and her experience of the park was so, so different.

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Last time I don’t think she was overly aware of there being animals around her, this time she proudly sat on my knee as we drove round the animal reserve and pointed at the animals with such delight (until a deer came right up to the passenger window and gave her a bit of a start).

One thing I love is that she constantly waved and said tata to the animals as we left them behind, so cute! I love seeing her grow up.

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Of course no trip to any safari park would be the same without getting overly excited about playing in the park which is something that she was far too young for last time. This time she wanted to have a go on every chute, dig in the sand and just generally have such a great time. The park is worthy of a day out in itself and I can see it being the main attraction of our visits here when M and Button grow up.

For someone who only really found the joy of chutes at the beginning of the summer I am amazed at how brave she is now and how the bigger the slide the better.IMGP2297

One of the best parts of the park was the petting farm which allowed M to get up close with the animals and she loved it. Of course she wanted to push her pram and monkey round but she was so keen to say hi and bye to every animal that she encountered even though she was exhausted and could really have done with having a sleep.IMGP2254

Included in the price of entry are a number of different attractions including a boat trip to monkey island and the sea lion show. As it was summer we ended up being in a huge queue to get into the sea lion show and then had to sit and wait for 20 minutes whilst everyone got seated and the show began. All the while the pool area was boiling and I think it all became a bit too much for M. She was fine to start with and excited to see the sea lion but when it went onto the diving board and dove off she thought it had fallen off and got upset so we left as we thought the show had just begun and didn’t want to annoy other people round us. Turns out that the show only lasted 10 minutes so we only missed a couple of minutes of the show.
IMGP2223Overall the day was fantastic and M loved it so much. We spent four or 5 hours there and could quite easily have stayed longer had M not been so tired. I can see us becoming frequent visitors to the park over the coming years and M will certainly enjoy seeing the animals. We also did not realise that we could have used the onsite kennels and so been able to take the dogs with us which is another reason we set off when we did.

You know that you have children when you go to the safari park and your camera has next to no pictures of animals and 100s of your child on it!

 

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Bringing up a baby with dogs

Having pets can be so rewarding and fun

When we were pregnant with M we had huge concerns about how our two Jack Russells and our cat would take to having a new member of the family in the house.

It was not because they are aggressive animals, it was just because they were, well, animals.

Before I took a pregnancy test, as I was still in the 2WW, I noticed that the dogs changed and were suddenly very protective of me. It was on the night that Hiccup growled at my husband when he tried to kiss me that my mind was made up, I was pregnant, and so we did the test and for out BFP.

From that moment on the dogs looked out for me, not letting any other dogs get too close and suddenly they were not so keen on other humans coming too close either – a big change from two dogs who loved getting petted. I guess seeing them grown a lot more made me worry as I had not seen this side to them.

I need not have worried though because we could tell the minute we took M home that they dogs were going to be fine. Of course we didn’t let them get too close and would still not leave them alone with M but it was great to see that they took to her instantly.

During the later stages of pregnancy I started to play youtube videos of babies crying, which at first startled the dogs bt soon just became one of those noises. Nothing to be bothered by.

The fist night we got home we popped M in her moses basket and Hiccup jumped up on the settee, balanced her head on the side of the basket and watched over M for a good few hours.

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Although we were happy with the inital introductions we were very cautious with the dogs. They can be quite excitable so did get put out in the garden or into the kitchen to calm down.

When M was not in the room or was out of reach the dogs spend a lot of time sniffing her car seat and blankets. We actively encouraged this and my husband let them have a wee smell of her baby grows that he took home from the hospital to get washed for us when we were still in the ward. Much of the first month of the dogs interactions with M was through sniffing.

Once we felt a bit more confident, as confident as over protective parents can be, we let them come close and to our surprise they showed very little interest in the little human and were just so happy to get to snuggle up with the adult humans. Yes there was a sniff here and a sniff there but they just were not bothered by her.

Even the cat surprised us. With all other children she ran a mile, scared witless, but with M she was so intrigued, coming up and rubbing her head against her. I was in shock. She does not have as much interaction with M, despite M’s best efforts, but she does allow her to get close and has never caused us any concern. I would not trust her but she has been great.

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Now with M on the move it is harder to separate the animals from the baby so we don’t. I keep an eye on them all but the dogs love having the company of M. They take a lot of abuse (hard patting, being pushing on as a standing shelf) but they just lie and let her play. I will often just call them over so that they move away from her but that is because I am nervous not because they are a problem.

I am glad we have the dogs and cat. From a very young age M has loved them, they were, and still are,  the one thing that is bound to make her giggle. She loves watching them play in the garden or down at the beach. Whenever she sees a dog or a cat in a book, or on the TV, she gets so excited. She will point, shout, bounce in excitement. She loves them.

We no longer have to look for the cat as we know the minute she is sitting on the windowsill wanting in as M will let us know instantly from her excited waching and hiyas.

When we go out a walk she gets so excited to see a doggie out with its owners.

Sometimes it can be hard work but I wouldn’t change it for the world (although maybe if they could just be a bit less excitable – the dogs not M).

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Five tips for introducing dogs to a baby:

  1. Play sounds of babies crying to your dogs whilst pregnant to get them used to the sounds a baby can make.
  2. Let them sniff baby grows that the baby has been wearing before introducing them to the baby if you can.
  3. Let them sniff the baby, stay relaxed but make sure you are able to move baby away if necessary, or put the dog on a lead. Have treats with you and reward them. Give before introducing the baby and throughout the introductions. At the same time talk calmly with them, praising them a lot.
  4. Give your dog a lot of attention when the baby is present. You don’t want to them to feel neglected or jealous. It is a huge change for you all and would be easy to forget about the dogs for a while.
  5. When your baby grows up you need to teach them to be “gentle” and we constantly tell M to be gentle, which she is. It can be a bit scary letting your baby touch the dogs but we started when M was a baby by placing her hands on the dogs so they got used to being prodded by M.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let me know!