It's not unusual for pregnant women to have a support system present for delivery, from their partner to their medical provider. But for Texas mom Brooke Ellington, an unexpected part of her cheering section during her recent home birth was her 1-year-old Corgi, Ranger.
Ellington says she and her husband, Steven's, first Corgi died last year. The couple adopted Ranger as a puppy a few months ago to "fill the hole in their hearts" after the loss.
"I don't think I could love him more," Ellington told TODAY Parents. "For only having him less than year, he is such a big part of our family and is so loyal to all of us."
So when Ellington delivered her third child, a baby girl named Berkeley, on June 29, it was no surprise that Ranger stayed close to his owner's side, comforting her throughout her labor and delivery.
"I remember him checking in with me from time to time, but I didn't realize he was right there by my whole side the entire time until I saw the photos," said Ellington. "I was in tears seeing how loyal and curious he was."
Ellington's birth photos, taken by photographer Kristin Waner of Kristin Ann Photography, show Ranger following close to her side — Ellington lovingly scratching Ranger's head while in labor and Ranger giving his owner kisses from her position in the birthing tub.
After baby Berkeley's arrival, the photos take on a new level of cuteness, with Ranger curiously sniffing his new baby sister and staring quizzically into Waner's camera.
While Waner has photographed home births in the past, she says Ranger is the first pet she has seen stick so closely to his owner's side.
"You can tell he loves her more than anything and wanted to help her through her labor," said Waner.
Now that Ellington's labor is over, the mom-of-three says she and her family are adjusting well to being a family-of-five and Ranger is thrilled with his new role as big brother.
"He follows me around and gets a sniff or lick every time I set Berkeley down," said Ellington. "He's so protective of her always, staying close and keeping an eye on her. I think now he gets she's here to stay, so he wants to find his place in this new normal for our family."