We recently interviewed Bill Horn & Scout Masterson, best known as “The Guncles” on Oxygen TV’s Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood about their three rescue dogs and their daughter and all they bring to their lives:
Can you tell us about your dogs and your life with your dogs before your daughter joined your family?
We have three rescues – Jessica, Stanley and Harvey, in that order of age (oldest to youngest). They’ve all got a chihuahua mix to them. Stanley is a mini-pinscher chihuahua… We’d say he’s the craziest of the bunch! Our dogs have always, and always will be a part of our family.
All three of them sleep in bed with us, and Jessica is often found laying with her head on our pillows, tucked into the duvet like a person. She’s the oldest, and wisest!
What special training did you do before the birth of your baby to help prepare your dogs?
This may sound silly, but we didn’t “train” them specifically for Simone’s arrival. We hear a lot of people walk around with a baby doll to get the dogs used to the baby being around.
We honestly feel a connection with our dogs, and we just think they understood that a baby was on the way. They’re all very mildly mannered. We run a tight ship around our home.
What was the reaction of your dogs when you brought your daughter home?
When we brought Simone home, they sniffed her and then were back to their day. When Simone was a newborn and we’d lay her on our bed, Jessica, Stanley and Harvey would all want to lay around her. Like a protection circle. We think it was their way of showing love.
We had sent a picture on Twitter of the dogs laying around her, and got some criticism about her being around “dog dander”. People will always criticize. She was absolutely fine and has never had any issues or allergies from the dogs being around her in our home.
Did you have to adjust your dogs’ training to address any issues you saw in their behavior with your daughter?
If there was a challenge, we’d say it was keeping them from laying too close to her. They wanted to snuggle up!
Now that your daughter is a toddler, what special training have you worked on with your dogs to help them safely interact with her?
Yes, now that Simone is almost 2 years old and becoming more “grabby”, we closely monitor their interaction. Harvey (the youngest) is Simone’s dog. At least, that’s what she says. So they’re totally bff’s. She hugs Harvey and he kisses her. She gets the absolute biggest kick out of that! He also lays at the foot of her toddler bed while we read to her before bed. It’s pretty cute.
When Stanley sees Simone coming his way, he just runs the other direction. He’s funny like that. And Jessica can be a little feisty in her older age. She has never snapped at Simone, but we do watch her closely. We’re very aware that anything can trigger a dog’s impatience.
What special instructions have you given your daughter to help her learn to properly interact with her dogs?
We’ve taught Simone not to pet Jessica on the face and not to squeeze Harvey too tight when she’s giving hugs. Simone really enjoys helping feed the dogs. We put the food into the bowls and she passes them out.
If they’re not eating, she’ll find them in the house and say “Harvey. Dinner time!”. She ensures they all eat. It’s pretty cute to see her have taken on this responsibility. We didn’t ask her to, she just started doing it one day. After they’ve finished, she picks up their bowls and hands them to us to wash.
In looking forward, what do you hope being raised in a dog-friendly household will help teach your daughter?
So many kids and adults we’ve met have a fear of dogs. We guess something or someone along the way has instilled a fear in them. We want Simone to know that dogs (and animals) can be a loving and rewarding addition to your home and family.
For more about The Guncles, Bill Horn & Scout Masterson: