Our days start with the same phrase every morning, “Get out of your brother’s mouth!” They’re words I never thought I would utter in my lifetime, and now I use them every day. As soon as I place Rowan on the floor to play while I get ready to bring the boys for a walk, Finn swoops in to give him a good morning kiss. On the mouth. And Rowan eagerly reaches out to accept it. I’ve read studies and articles extolling the virtues of raising babies with dogs to help build their immune systems, but I’m not sure making out with the dog on a regular basis is what the researchers had in mind. It’s no secret that our beloved cockapoo Finn (aka Finny Bear) took to Rowan straightaway. Their bond has only gotten stronger as both boys grow older and Rowan can return the interest. Now that the admiration is mutual though, my job as a mother has expanded to that of referee. And before you read any further, yes, I am the crazy dog lady who considers her pups to be family members. We regularly call the boys “brothers,” and no, I’m not offended when people compare raising children to having dogs, because in my experience, there are a lot of similarities. In fact, Rowan and Finn have noticed similarities between babies and dogs too. While Finn’s caught on pretty quickly as to what stuffed animals and squeaky toys are his and which are his brother’s, Rowan’s still learning which playthings belong to him and which are strictly the dog’s. It’s a fun game. I must confess, sometimes I have to do a double take before I can make the distinction. We’re also learning about the difference between people and puppy food. For example, pancakes aren’t for puppies, and kibble is not for kids. Neither of the boys are picking up on this concept well. They both believe that brothers share food. Rowan is having an especially hard time grasping that while it’s okay for him to have an occasional drink of water from a cup, it’s not okay for him to crawl on over to Finn’s water bowl and use it as a personal paddling pool. Teaching Rowan and Finn how to relate to each other is actually a lot of fun for me. The dog wants to hover around Rowan; however, Finn’s learning that the baby needs some space to practice his skills and discover the world around him. And as much as Rowan wants to crawl right up to Finny Bear and smother him in hugs and kiss, he’s learning that it’s best to pet his pup with an open hand. I’m hoping the lessons we impart now will help these two boys share a strong bond in the years to come. But if this first nine months is any indication, they’re already well on their way.