First, let me say, I'm not trying to tell you how to raise your children. I'm not a parent and I trust that you've got more expertise on child rearing than I do.
But I could use your help in raising my dog. You know the one. The one that has the fluffy, curled tail that looks like it's begging to be grabbed.
The one who prances down the sidewalks with a huge smile on her face.
What you might not know about her, though, is that she's unsure of kids. They move quickly, sometimes they move in bizarre ways, they make strange noises. These are all things that make her nervous.
You might have noticed that we cross the street if your kids are playing on the sidewalk or riding scooters up and down your driveway. You might also have noticed that when my dog sees your children doing these things, she ducks behind me, her tail goes down, and her ears look non-existent. We don't mind sharing the sidewalks with your budding artists--I love seeing their sidewalk chalk art when they've finished it. And I'm thrilled that they're outside getting fresh air and exercise--I wish I had the balance that they've developed on those scooters! But we need a little space, so please encourage your children not to chase us across the street when we make an attempt to get that space.
|The only thing worse than having a kid reach for your tail is having a cat reach for it.|
You might have noticed that we abruptly change directions if your children are screaming (even if it's all in good fun). You might also have noticed that when we change directions, my dog continues to look over her shoulder at your children until I stick a treat in front of her nose and refocus her attention. My dog's default setting is excited. When she sees things moving quickly and hears them making interesting noises, her excitement levels skyrocket and she's ready to party. But she doesn't know how to party with kids. To my dog, a party means chasing and herding things, which involves nipping at things and giving playful growls, and those things make kids nervous and when they get nervous, my dog gets nervous. A nervous dog is not a safe dog, so we will always change directions and, again, we greatly appreciate not being chased.
I really love that so many of you have taught your children to ask before reaching out to pet a dog. I hope you also tell them that sometimes people say no and that really does mean no. I don't say no to break your children's hearts. It breaks my heart to see their faces fall when I say no. If there are other dogs that we can see or hear, if there's a large group of children rushing up as your child asks, if is a train or other loud vehicle going by, if your child is smaller than my dog, I will always say no. I say no because I have to. I say no because that's the best way to ensure your children and my dog stay safe.
Even if I say yes, there will be rules. My dog has to sit before your child can pet her. Your child will have to pet her back or neck and not put their face in her face. If there's more than one child, they will have to take turns and pet her one at a time. All bikes, scooters, and skateboards must be set down before they approach her. I'll be giving her treats the entire time your child is petting her and the petting session will probably last less than 10 seconds because I want to make sure it's always positive for everyone involved.
|Just because she'll put up with a lot from me doesn't mean she'll put up with a lot from everybody.|
I've always heard that it takes a village to raise a child and I believe the same is true for my dog. We spend a lot of time training together, but with your help, I can help increase her confidence as she learns that kids aren't scary. Please help us by reminding your children to not ever run at a strange dog and to ask (and listen) before reaching out to pet a dog. If we all work together, our neighborhood will be a safe, happy place for all of us.
Beth & Barley
We're participating in the Barks and Bytes blog hop hosted by Heart like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs. Be sure to check out all of the other awesome blogs participating this week!