But we, as in Jeremy and I, have not yet become dog owners. Even though we both grew up around animals I guess our abiding animal philosophy goes something like this: Not a fat chance in Hades will we get a pet until the humans in our house stop peeing on the floor. And now that I have a darling little boy who pees on me every other time I remove his diaper, I'm thinking we're not quite there yet.
Having said that, it has come to my attention that my girls are turning into the most dog-fearing, scaredy-pants sissies that I've ever seen. I think part of their ambivalence toward animals stems from trying to negotiate that fine line between being friendly and being foolish. Our house backs up to an open space with a neighborhood path winding just beyond our back fence, and all the dogs within a three mile radius parade by at least once a day. So, being cautious around animals is seriously important at our house. My girls have had it drummed into their heads since they were pre-schoolers that you HAVE TO ASK FIRST before you pet someone else's dog. And there have been plenty of times the dog owners have abruptly backed away, saying, Sorry girls, my dog is NOT kid friendly or please don't try to pet him, he'll try to nip you if you do!
Over the years it has required vigilant attention on my part to ensure my children's faces aren't chewed off by neighborhood dogs passing by. But they're getting a little older, the novelty of the neighborhood dogs is fading, and these days more often than not they automatically keep their distance. They witnessed a vicious dog fight after school last year and that didn't help their enthusiasm either. A few weeks ago a friendly little dog approached us with his tail wagging and two of my three girls became insanely hysterical, clawing up my leg to get away. Even though I'm not a dog owner I cocked my head and said to myself, Now, that there ain't right!
My younger sister happens to work with dogs for a living and so the next day I called her up and asked if she would host a "Dog Seminar" for my pansy children. I should add that not only does my sister work with dogs, she is the proud owner of three dogs, each which resembles a small horse.
|Post-bath "sad faces"|
As we drove home I informed my kids we were celebrating our own personal Animal Awareness Month and I challenged them to look for other opportunities to show their respect and care for animals. No more throwing Cheetos at squirrels with the intent to knock them off the porch railing. No more chasing down terrified rabbits in the back yard in hopes of capturing them and bringing them home to be our new pet. I might not be the poster child for the world's greatest animal lover (I promise my family members are cracking up at that statement), but I also don't want my kids to accidentally become the kind of adults who are thoughtlessly cruel and/or afraid of all animals. My mom always says, Kids and dogs don't lie. I think of that phrase often. Whatever inherent goodness and benevolence is inside of you, kids and dogs will instinctively sense it.
I figure there are many parenting topics and practices that will come naturally to me, but our Animal Awareness Month was a good reminder that there will be just as many topics that require some sort of cavalry. A big thanks to my sister Vauna for agreeing to be our dog expert for the day, and a shout out to the rest of my fabulous dog crazy family for sending me weird photos of their dogs. And you never know guys, one of these days we might turn into one of those dog crazy families too! As mom always says, You don't plant peas and get corn!