The Bachelorette couple's 2-year-old son Max is careful with the new baby, like he is with dogs Natasha and Tank

By Cynthia Wang
Updated October 21, 2009 04:31 PM
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Before Bachelorette couple Trista and Ryan Sutter had son Max, 2, and daughter Blakesley, 6 mos., they had Tash and Tank.

Natasha is Ryan’s beloved Siberian husky and Tank (above in 2006) is Trista’s Yorkshire terrier. Trista credits both canines with helping Max learn to be a good big brother to his new infant sister.

“Max adores Blakesley,” Trista tells PEOPLE. “He has been wonderful with her and I think a good part of that is we have our dogs and we’ve always taught him to be really gentle with them and I think that’s why he’s gentle with her. With pets, you reinforce the ‘be gentle’ part.”

The Sutters’s dogs made up a great starter family for Trista and Ryan. After Trista got Tank, she told PEOPLE in 2006, “Our dogs are our little babies with fur. Tank has been our best addition to the family. I tried to take him most places because he has separation anxiety. Natasha loves the outdoors and Tank is a cuddler and sleeps on our bed. It’s good to have the combo of the big and little. I love my life and the way it is turning out at the moment. We would just love to add a baby into the mix sometime soon.” Of course, Max was born a year later!

Read more about Trista’s amazing weight-loss in the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands now.