For many dog moms, giving birth to your first child brings a unique anxiety: how will you balance your love for your new bundle of joy and the fur baby who's stuck by your side through it all? Ali Fedotowsky-Manno faced this challenge when she had her daughter a little over two years ago, and she was surprised and relieved to find her love for her dog, Owen, didn't change one bit; her heart just got bigger. That's why Ali Fedotowsky-Manno says you can love your dog even after you have kids. In fact, she wants to help other moms see that having a baby doesn't have to change your relationship with your pup — or any of your fur babies, for that matter.
I met up with the former Bachelorette star to talk about her furry best pal Owen, what it's like having two kids under three, and the seemingly endless stream of business ventures she's got in the works. Seriously, Fedotowsky-Manno somehow manages her blog, being a Hallmark Home & Family host, a jewelry line with Emerald Duv (the next collab will be out in March, btw), a new partnership with Kibbles n' Bits, and she has her eye on getting a clothing line out in 2019: "I want to have the perfect, affordable, awesome t-shirt." Oh, and ya know, she's also a full-time mom. (Seriously, when does she sleep?) Despite having so much on her plate, Ali greeted me with an eager smile when we met, instantly bringing energy to a gray Thursday in New York City.
"At that point in my life, all of the love I had to give was going to my dog," Fedowtosky-Manno tells me, opening up about the constant warnings she got that Owen would end up as an after thought when Molly, now two and a half, was born, with some suggesting that the pup would even be sleeping outside after the baby came. It turned out the cautionary tales were way off the mark, as any dedicated dog mom could have guessed. "When I had my babies, my love for Owen didn't change. I just spread it out amongst, you know, all my babies."
That's not to say kids didn't change anything at all for Owen. "Does he get as much attention as he got before I had kids? Of course not," the star explains. "Any parent knows that you can't give your fur baby as much attention as you used to when kids come in the picture." Rather than ignoring the shifts in her home dynamic, Fedowtosky-Manno tries to embrace them instead by making caring for Owen something the Mannos do as a family, and no one does a better job than two-year-old Molly.
Fedowtosky-Manno's grin gets even wider as she tells me that she and husband Kevin Manno are teaching Molly about responsibility right now, with her two big jobs being feeding Owen and getting burp cloths for her little brother, Riley. "She gets so excited about [feeding Owen]," Fedowtosky-Manno gushes, explaining that the pup is actually quite a picky eater. But once they switched him to the steak and bacon flavor kibble, the eating struggles went away instantly, which made Molly even more excited about her doggy duties.
The star recommends getting the whole family involved with dog care as much as possible, with simple things like going on family walks or having some mom-dog nap time making a huge difference. You can learn more about her partnership with Kibbles n' Bits on their website, and follow her blog for updates on Fedowtosky-Manno's many projects in the coming year.
Sure, having a baby changes everything — but thankfully those changes are for the better.