A toddler raised alongside 6 German Shepherds develops such a close bond that she thinks she’s a dog herself.

Growing up with pets can profoundly impact a child’s life. From learning responsibility to developing empathy, there are countless benefits to growing up alongside furry companions. But what happens when those companions are not just one or two pets but a pack of six German Shepherds? For one child, that was River reality.

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In a video shared on TikTok under the account Jakoba German Shepherds, a 14-month-old girl named River can grow and learn in the company of her dog siblings.

“My baby was raised with six dogs, and sometimes I think she thinks she’s a dog,” the on-screen caption reads.

The clip was uploaded by River’s mother, Ashley Shell, and captures the tot enjoying a taste of dog life. “She’s drawn to all the dog stuff,” Shell told Newsweek. “We put up the dog’s water and food when she’s ᴄʀᴀᴡʟɪɴɢ around, but there were a few times we forgot, and she’d be sᴘʟᴀsʜɪɴɢ in the dog’s water or trying to ᴇᴀᴛ their food.”

River enjoys playing with pooches, Meeka, Kai, Ryker, Koba, Brenna, and Roma, so much daily that she has started acting like an adorable pup.


It Was Love At First Sight For River

As well as sampling a little ᴄᴀɴɪɴᴇ chow, River will often ᴄʀᴀᴡʟ inside the dog crate (when the animals are not inside) and listen to music, Shell said.

“She likes to follow them around and see what they’re up to,” Shell continued. “She also loves to ᴛʜʀᴏᴡ her food down when she’s done eating it, so the dogs absolutely love her for that. Every morning I make her eggs, and the dogs know she’ll ᴛʜʀᴏᴡ it down to them after a while.”

There’s undoubtedly a sense of affinity between the toddler and her canine friends. That’s not necessarily a surprise when you consider that some experts think dogs possess intelligence equivalent to that of a 2-year-old.

She ᴀᴅᴍɪᴛᴛᴇᴅ she ꜰᴇʟᴛ some ᴛʀᴇᴘ.ɪᴅᴀᴛɪᴏɴ about having a young child while also looking after a pack of dogs. “When we found out I was pregnant, we ᴡᴇʀᴇ ɴᴇʀ.ᴠᴏᴜs about how they’d do with our daughter, River,” Shell said. “But they’ve been so good.”

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Shell recalled how her daughter has “always been used to seeing our dogs from the start, so it’s all she knows.” The video shared online captured an early meeting between the dogs and River as a newborn baby. There are “certain dogs” River is more drawn to, Shell said.

Growing up with six dogs taught this child the value of unconditional love and loyalty.

She saw firsthand how these animals were willing to protect and care for their human family members, and she developed a deep bond with each of them in return.

As she grew older and moved away from home, she remained connected to the dogs and treasured the lessons they taught her.

Of course, growing up with six German Shepherds was not without its ᴄʜᴀʟʟᴇɴɢᴇs. There were times when the dogs would get ɪɴᴛᴏ sᴄᴜꜰꜰʟᴇs, and the child had to learn how to ᴅɪꜰꜰᴜsᴇ the sɪᴛᴜᴀᴛɪᴏɴ and keep everyone safe.

At times, the dogs would become ᴏᴠᴇʀʟʏ protective, and she had to learn how to assert her ᴅᴏᴍɪɴᴀɴᴄᴇ while still respecting their instincts.

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