Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dear dog owner

Dear Dog owner:

My children love dogs. They really adore them in fact. Specific dogs that they know and trust.

You see my children recognize that each dog has his or her personality and training and that's how they judge dogs. I write his or her because my daughter always corrects me on the correct pronoun for dogs she knows. Both kids view dogs as sentient beings. My son greets dogs he likes by name. Both kids feel free to command dogs they know and expect the dog to obey. This makes for a much happier interaction as sometimes dogs do get over excited and forget that kids are two legged and not four legged.

My daughter thinks smaller dogs are "cuter" than bigger dogs but cute is only one factor in what makes a dog lovable. My kids' two favorite dogs are a lab mix and a golden retriever so clearly size isn't everything.

You say "My dog is great with kids." My kids want to make that decision for themselves after observing your dog. Please do not thrust your dog upon my children. If your dog is socialized your dog will not like it either. If my children take their time to observe your dog before they get close saying things to them like "You're afraid of dogs" will not help them get closer to your dog. If your dog is seen to be well trained or responds to correction my kids will approach your dog.

For those owners whose dogs are shall we say a bit excited? Perhaps your dog often strains on the leash or jumps up and is poorly trained or perhaps your dog is simply excited right now. My children can only judge what they see in the moment. These behaviors that you consider cute or harmless or expressing excitement can knock over my small children and make them cry. I don't think you should take it personally if my kids keep their distance. As soon as your dog settles down my kids will approach.

I've also taught my kids that some dogs work and should not be petted. For them these dogs wear a vest. They've also learned on their own that these dogs tend to hold more still. So if your therapy dog fits this description please don't take it personally if my kids don't pet your dog. They're still learning all the finer nuances of dogs. They're only 5 and 3 so they have some time yet.

Thank you for your understanding

Mom of two small keen dog observers and lovers

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