A video (below) of an infant being tickled by a dog has sparked a debate about whether it's safe to have a dog so close to a baby.
Illinois mom Katie Wahrhaftig posted a video online of her 9-month-old son, Graham, crying before she tickled his belly, which causes him to start laughing. The family's boxer, Jeeves, is then seen tickling Graham with his nose to stop him from crying, Daily Mail reports.
The family from Brookfield, Illinois, say they adopted Jeeves in February 2016, when Katie was five months pregnant with Graham. According to Katie, Graham and 2-year-old Jeeves are best friends, and often play together as they do in the video.
"I was so happy Jeeves stopped Graham crying, nobody makes him laugh like his best friend," Katie said. "At this point, they can play this game on a dime and even give each other cues letting the other know it's time."
"They do just about everything together but bath time is their favorite," said Katie. "Jeeves follows us around to diaper changes and feedings."
Katie, who adopted Jeeves after losing her previous boxer, Yoshi, said she was initially concerned about having the dog and baby together.
"I had a lot of anxiety bringing Jeeves into our family when I was five months pregnant," she said. "We were worried he wouldn't like the new baby."
But, she said, seeing the duo play together put her worries to rest.
"I worked hard to make sure Jeeves felt like a part of things and was still an important part of our pack," said Katie. "When I first saw them interact like this, I knew they loved each other and it made me so happy."
Not everyone who saw the video thought that the behavior was cute. Several commenters chimed in to warn Katie about the dangers of letting a dog play with a baby as young as Graham.
"One bite and shake is all it would take," warned one commenter. "Too much trust in animal. Way too much."
"I would never ever leave my baby, small child alone with a dog," said another. "That being said, Boxers are absolutely wonderful around children. If they have been treated well, they are extremely gentle around babies and children."
New parents don't need to get rid of their pets, but should exercise caution and common sense about letting their animals interact with young children, Parents Magazine advises.
Pets can carry and spread viruses, bacteria and parasites, so any scratches or bites should be washed with soap and water, the magazine suggests.
The guide also advises against letting a dog or cat give a baby "kisses," as dogs and cats often lick feces and trash, potentially exposing the baby to bacteria.
Doggone Safe recommends never leaving a baby alone with a dog "for even a second," because a dog might accidentally hurt the baby, or become agitated by the child's sounds or behavior. The website also recommends that parents keep their baby off of the floor when the dog is in the room.