A big lesson in kindness for our 1 year old son, Rowdy, will involve our dogs, Lex and Honey. Lex is a 9 year old Pomeranian and Honey is a 6 year old Labrador Retriever. Our girls were here many years before Rowdy was born, and it’s important to my husband and me that Rowdy lives peacefully with the dogs.
Many times I have compared babies to dogs. I may have offended a parent or two in the past by saying “Yeah, I have a similar issue with Lex” in response to the story they just shared about their baby. But hey, coming from me, it’s not an insult when I compare a baby to a dog. In fact, they have a lot in common with each other. You have to train a dog. You have to train a baby. Potty training, behavior training, teaching tricks (Rowdy! Say ‘mama’! Come on, bud! You said it earlier. I swear, he said it earlier…). But although there are plenty of similarities, I sometimes must remind myself that Rowdy is not in fact, a dog. He’ll be crawling around and I tell him to come on when I’m ready to leave the room and want him to follow me out. Unlike a dog, Rowdy doesn’t always follow. I must admit, there has been a time or two that I have instinctively patted my hand on my leg as I said “Come on, bud. Let’s go.” He just looks up at me and smiles, or hell, he may not even look at me. My dogs would never ignore me like that. What’s wrong with this kid?
Today I watched Rowdy mess with Honey a bit on the living room floor. He looked at her and smiled and began to approach her backside as she lay down. And then, sure enough, it happened. She grabbed that 80 pound Lab’s tail. He picked it up from it’s laying position and began grabbing it and looking at it. It was fun…for him. I could see that Honey was annoyed. She stood up to leave the situation (good girl), but he went for her tail again. He was so focused on her tail as if he didn’t realize that it was attached to the rest of her body. Thankfully, Honey continued to walk away and Rowdy accepted it. I watch things very carefully when Rowdy is around the dogs, and I never leave him alone with them. Our girls are precious to us. They’re family. But they’re also animals. They don’t know Rowdy’s intentions quite yet and he doesn’t understand them either. We will continue to proceed with caution.
One great way to prevent a bad situation with a baby and a dog is to teach the baby how he should treat the dog and lead by example. Rowdy will not be witnessing any violence towards the girls. We have decided to be very careful, even with a little butt swat to Honey when she does something really bad (Lex very rarely gets herself into any trouble). I don’t like violence of any sort anyway, so this one is easy for me. Rowdy may still make the decision to be aggressive toward one of the dogs for whatever reason, but hopefully our good example will decrease the odds. I also show him how to gently pet them and love them on a regular basis. And of course when he gets older, he’ll learn how to feed them, bathe them, etc.
As the mother of the house, I believe that one of my many responsibilities is to keep the peace within our household. Showing Rowdy how to be kind to the dogs is a huge step in that process. And, who knows. Maybe one day he’ll actually come to me when I tell him to. Hopefully his big “sisters” can show him that trick.