Family Dog Teaches 1-Year-Old to Walk as Mom Raises Her Daughters Alongside Four Samoyed Pups
There’s never a dull moment in the Hegarty household!
Sarah Hegarty and Aaron Shaw, of Perth, Australia, have their hands full raising two daughters, Layla, 1, and 10-month-old Ruby Shaw, along with four Samoyed dogs — Arthur, Aurora (both 5), and Shimmer and Sebastian (both 1). But they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Both girls seem to have an amazing connection with the pups, unlike anything I’ve seen before,” Hegarty, 26, tells PEOPLE. “They won’t realize how lucky they are until they’re older.”
The young girls have lived with the dogs since they were born, and Hegarty says Aurora and Arthur even taught Layla to walk.
“Layla went straight from laying to walking, no crawling in between,” the proud mom tells PEOPLE. “She’d slide over to them and pull herself up onto them while they were laying. From there, she’d start pushing herself up into the standing position.”
“Once she mastered standing while holding on to them, [Aurora and Arthur] would slowly and gently pace forward. She would follow along, leaning near the top of their backs,” she adds.
Aaron and Sarah, a dog groomer, welcomed Arthur and Aurora into their family five years ago and, about a year later, took in Fonzi, an 8-year-old rescue Samoyed, she says. Fonzi was in poor health when he was rescued and passed away shortly after, leaving the dog-loving couple devastated.
Their dog crew grew larger soon after, though. When Sarah was pregnant with Layla in 2016, Sarah’s partner and breeder surprised her with Shimmer and Sebastian — and the mom-to-be just couldn’t turn the pups away.
Sarah is an expert dog trainer, and says she had no qualms about starting a family with four large dogs in the family’s four-bedroom home.
“I never planned on having so many,” she says. “Bringing a new pup into the house isn’t a problem if the training and effort is put into it. We know our dogs’ temperaments and never had a worry about them [with the kids].”
And all seems to be going well. Sarah says Layla and Ruby love the dogs and have learned how to properly play with the animals.
“Of course, we are always watching them and sometimes we do tell the girls, ‘leave Arthur now’ and they listen straight away,” the mom of two tells PEOPLE. “They learned quickly that they need to respect the pups’ space also … [the dogs] absolutely love children.”
Sarah tells PEOPLE that Layla and the pooches are “best friends.” The little girl runs around the house with the dogs, laughing and playing with toys.
“She’s close with Aurora, they will fall asleep together, just sit and watch movies together,” Sarah says of her oldest daughter. “Layla can lay on her for long periods of time, Layla will eat her fruit and pass a piece to Aurora after she’s finished a piece of her own. They just enjoy each other’s company.”
As for Ruby, Sarah says the little girl isn’t as close with the dogs as her big sister, “but the pups still comfort her when she cries, bringing her toys and laying by her.”
Sarah shares the family’s adventures in photos on their Instagram page,The Samoyed Siblings, posting adorable moments between the dogs and the kids. And despite all the action, Sarah says the home is “very relaxed.”
“The girls are more stressful than the pups have ever been, just as they are still so young,” she says. “It’s really not that rowdy, the pups play outside for hours and tire themselves out! … Or maybe rowdy is now normal to me?”