Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Love of a Dog

Some of my favorite childhood memories include dogs. We lived in the country and spent our summer days hiking through the woods, horse back riding, or wading in the creek, always with a dog or two trailing us. When I married, I knew I wanted dogs to be part of my children's lives. Childhood just doesn't seem complete without a dog.

We have two dogs, both mutts from the pound. They are wonderful. Annie is a bird dog mix and Ender is some sort of strange looking terrier. We were told poodle, but I very much doubt that. We adopted each of them as puppies before we had children.

Knowing we were going to have children one day soon, Nick and I wanted to make sure our dogs would be gentle. We both wanted to be able to trust them with our babies. So Nick worked with them. Teaching them their manners. It wasn't anything fancy. Just the basics. Sit and lay down. No jumping. Heel. He also played with their food as they ate, sometimes taking it directly out of their mouths. He knew that a toddler would think dog food was fun to play with and he wanted to make sure they wouldn't bite little fingers. When he gave them treats, he would hold onto the end and make the dogs nibble it out of his fingers.

Nick also rolled them over on their backs and tugged on their ears and tail. He never hurt them, but he wanted them to get used to being handled all over.

Our dogs definitely aren't the best trained, but I think they are trained perfectly for children. Annie especially loves our kids. When they were tiny babies, she would lay by their bouncer and lick their toes, making them giggle. If Joe is crying in his crib, Annie whimpers and lays outside his door. Now that Ada is two, Annie and Ada can get into trouble together. Ada tries to ride Annie like a horsey. They tumble in the grass and play fetch. On walks, Ada holds Annie's leash and Annie stays right by her side.

I'm glad we can show Ada the joys of having animals in her life and teach her to love and care for them. I've never had a moments worry that our dogs would hurt our children. I think that if you get a puppy and train it right, they can be a wonderful addition to a child's life. They certainly were to mine.

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