Skip to main content
Farm Fresh Forensics
rss feedour twitterour facebook page
site map
Latest Posts

Farm Fresh Blog

Friday, December 12 2014

This series of photographs got me to thinking about dogs and kids.

Every day this child takes a stroll around the neighborhood with her grandfather, and every day our house is one of their stops because of this big white dog. Briar has watched this child grow up. I clearly recall the first time she smiled her toothless grin at that big white dog and Briar's heart melted. The dog had never seen a human that small before and I was a tad worried until I watched her expression change to the same look reserved for baby lambs. Briar got it, she just got it. And they've been friends every since.

And this works for the dog and for the child. This little girl will grow up loving animals and she won't be afraid of big dogs, and Briar, and dogs like her, will benefit from being seen as a person of value. This dog is teaching not only the child, but her parents and her grandparents, and everyone else who experiences the bond between a dog and child. Briar isn't just a dirty dog in the barnyard. She is Briar The Person, someone who has feelings, likes and dislikes, and rights. She is not a piece of property; she is not a tool. She is a 'someone' not a 'something.'

As a child, I was born with a passion for dogs. My mother likes to tell the story of how, as a toddler, I interrupted my grandfather's funeral by loudly announcing to everyone there was a dog in the cemetery. I was born with a passion for dogs, but I was educated by my parents how to properly behave with a dog, and that is the key to a happy life for both the child and the dog.

When I was a kid, we had a pit bull. Say what you will about these dogs, but I will still stand up and loudly defend them as the perfect kid's dog. There is a reason why they were called "nanny dogs."  Butch was a black brindle dog with a white t-shirt, and he was our constant companion. My mother used to say she knew it was time for the school bus because Butch would park himself by the road and wait for the bus carrying his kids. Butch was Our Gang's dog, Petey.

I don't remember all the spankings I got as a kid, but I do vividly remember the spanking I got when Butch was a puppy and my parents found me using him as a pillow while I watched television. I don't recall the dog minding it that much, but I do recall the lesson that A DOG IS A PERSON AND NOT A PILLOW. And I also recall the lesson that no matter how much we have to sacrifice, you don't leave family, and Butch is family. Butch got heartworms. We were poor, but I don't think my mother could bear the thought of three children losing their dog, so instead of putting him to sleep then or letting the disease take him, she opted to bite the bullet, tighten up the already tight belt just a little more, and try the dangerous procedure that could cure him. She taught us an important lesson. A dog is not a thing. A dog has value. A dog is a member of the family.

A dog is not born being a kid's dog. There is education on both sides. My brother had the quintessential kid's dog in a yellow Labrador Retriever named Beau. He got Beau when he was still single. Baby Beau was a little chick-magnet. After all, who doesn't love a Labrador puppy? But if you've ever seen "Marley and Me" you know how destructive Labrador puppies can be and Beau was a true soulmate of Marley. My brother used to travel a lot and so I babysat Beau quite often. There was no fence high enough to contain him, and once loose, Beau was a one-dog destruction team.

But my brother loved him, and the dog was family. Dumping the dog at a shelter was never an option. It's a wonder Beau survived to adulthood, but when he did, something wonderful happened. Beau grew up to become the perfect dog. Roy got married and had kids of his own, and the dog that in many homes in America would have ended up in the pound, became the perfect kid's dog. That yellow dog was worth his weight in gold. He raised my brother's three little girls as patiently as my brother raised him. Beau more than gave back everything he'd chewed up, dug up, and thrown up. My brother's patience with that destructive puppy was rewarded, and it was a sad day for everyone when the old dog died. My brother has since added a chocolate Labrador to the family because the loss of a good dog leaves a gaping hole and the creation of the perfect dog takes time.

I share this story not so you'll run out and buy a Christmas puppy for your children, but to shine a spotlight on the lessons you are teaching your children now. That wild dog that is currently digging up the back yard can become the perfect dog with some attention and some time. Don't discard that dog in favor of the cute little puppy in the window who will also be digging up the back yard in a year. Don't dump that old dog at the pound to make room for a new shiny puppy. Don't teach your children that dogs are things to be discarded when they misbehave or your life gets busy, or you just want something new. The way you handle that dog today teaches your child important things about life tomorrow.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments  |  Email
Great read and I 100% agree with the author.
Posted by Barbara on 12/12/2014 - 02:53 PM
Your time is never wasted when you use it to teach a child how to love and care for an animal. And it will pay dividends for a lifetime, maybe more.
Posted by Patty on 12/12/2014 - 03:19 PM
This concept is the very reason my brother-in-law and I will never see eye to eye. He views dogs as disposable and I never will. When the black lab they adopted destroyed things he was taken to the pound. Never mind my niece was sobbing her heart out. Now that my niece is older she suggested taking my cattle dog to the pound after I first rescued her. So yes I agree how you interact with dogs and your children see the stage for the child's interactions down the road.
Posted by Nicole on 12/12/2014 - 09:20 PM
I am very careful when I decide to add a dog to my home,but once he gets into the car, he is mine forever. I don't understand how someone can give away a member of the family. Also, I sometimes feel guilty because my dog gets more care and attention than a lot of kids. Something in our society is broken! Families and animals are not disposable. Rebecca and Mojo
Posted by Rebecca on 12/13/2014 - 04:56 PM
I agree! I don't like to place dogs either. The only dog I said absolutely had to go was the medically retired Malinois patrol dog, Oli. I had to weigh her predatory tendencies and the fact that she had already killed one sheep and maimed two others. Because she was actively trying to get into the sheep pen to hunt them, we had to place her. I hated to do it, but the livestock have rights around here too, and keeping Oli was like keeping a tiger across the fence from them.
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 12/13/2014 - 05:04 PM
It is nice to see Trace taking part in the kid-training. Has he gotten any more practice with the camera yet?
Posted by Elissa on 12/15/2014 - 07:45 PM
No, he hasn't. We've been busy and so we haven't had time to play with the camera. I still haven't figured out how to edit a video yet!
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 12/15/2014 - 09:45 PM
So true! Although our kids are grown, they never knew a time when there wasn't a dog next to them growing up. Can the dogs be a pain in the ass, absolutely, but so can I :) We don't have grandchildren yet, but we do have a granddog, that we love. Our current girls are a 13 year old yellow lab and a 12 year old Aussie.
Posted by Deb D on 12/17/2014 - 08:13 AM
I wonder what really goes on in the minds of people who do OR do not see animals as disposable. My mother saw cats & dogs as disposable most of her life. Only the second-last & last cat she had were considered part of the family. Something about them was different? Not really. The difference was that she was alone by then. Meanwhile, I never had that attitude. Dogs & cats are family and meant to be protected at all costs. I've been told about a couple of children in a family who see animals as something to be replaced easily when (not if!) they get run over, etc. :( Perhaps something in their DNA makes them more prone to be sociopaths/psychopaths, for what is not caring about animals but a form of mental dismissal?
Posted by Terri's Pal on 12/18/2014 - 05:53 PM
Posted by Beth on 12/27/2014 - 12:45 PM

Post comment
Email Address

(max 750 characters)
* Required Fields
Note: All comments are subject to approval. Your comment will not appear until it has been approved.

Red Feather Ranch, Failte Gate Farm

© 2009-2019, Farm Fresh Forenics, Forensicfarmgirl, Failte Gate Farm, Red Feather Ranch All Rights Reserved.

rss feedour twitterour facebook page