Tag Archives: children

Mothers and Four-pawed Kids

kids have4 paws

This picture was posted for a (very) short time on FB today. By the time I saw it and tried to comment, it had been “retracted” probably due to some negative comments. I found it fascinating that the only folks objecting were male. Actually, I think that’s pretty significant, especially since the women who posted something all agreed and had some anecdote to share about how true it was in their own lives.

One man posted, “sorry dog owner isnt a mother people.” Though his lack of punctuation makes his exact meaning imprecise, I don’t think he was apologizing to the dog owners reading it. Another fellow had this to say — “No wonder the world is a mess. Comparing motherhood to owning a dog. That’s actually quite sick.” No wondering about what HE means, is there?

Isn’t it INTERESTING how both used some conjugation of the verb “to own?” Probably it was in reaction to the language in the picture, but I’m sure it was also a deliberate strategy to underscore their points. Emphasizing that word says a lot about how they view the world.

You can only “own” property — THINGS. To call something ALIVE “property” means you regard those living being as things, too. According to law, animals — even household pets — are still listed as property. The US military still classifies Military Working Dogs as “equipment.”  However the soldiers who work with the dogs regard them as partners and fellow warriors. Most folks who share their home with an animal usually regard and speak of them as members of the family. I would imagine these two guys are not among those “most folks.”

As men, they can never be mothers, themselves, so they can’t be objecting to the lady’s posting on that basis. At first glance it seems that the two “gentlemen” are standing up for the women in their lives.  I wish I could believe that’s all that’s going down.  Their reactions are not objective disagreements with the etymology of the word “motherhood.”  No, their comments are coming from gut-reactions and that means emotions which are connected to core beliefs.  No 21st century American would openly talk of owning his wife or kids, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they truly, deep down, consider the women and children in their lives as being extensions of themselves.

Didn’t mean to get so far off my usual “doggie” topics, here.   It just struck me that if these guys considered that post to smirch the beauty and sanctity of motherhood, then they must have pretty low opinions of dogs – as property.  Perhaps they were offended that a human woman would WANT to “mother” a beast. They certainly showed that they considered the opinion put forth in the picture to be just plain wrong for society as a whole!

I’m sorry for those men and anyone else who objects to this post, and here’s why – YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT!  The point is that not having biological (or adopted human) children of one’s own does not mean that a woman has no “motherlove.”  Nor does it mean she puts it a box and buries it!  She instead lavishes that nurturing spirit on others, including her “pets.”  She is not denying children anything.  She is not cheapening a mother’s love (or father’s) for their own children.  “Mothering” a dog or cat just means a woman’s heart is too big to restrict her caring to her own species.  Out of empathy, she cares for an animal without expectation of gaining anything in return.  And isn’t that what being a mother is all about?  Grow some empathy, guys!  It’s LACK of it that’s the reason the world is in such a mess, not because women call their 4-pawed pet, “kids!”


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Child-proof Dogs, Dog-proof Kids

We are very protective of our children — and rightfully so.  It is our responsibility to keep them safe and ban from our homes anything harmful.  It is also our responsibility to teach children how to keep themselves safe.  Because, when it comes right down to it, almost everything we need and want in our homes is potentially dangerous if handled incorrectly;  a fork, the stove,  or the dog.

Until children are old enough to know how to safely interact with any of the above and a hundred other common household “items,” they shouldn’t be left alone with them.  A child isn’t allowed to eat with a fork until he gains fine muscle control — and them only under supervision.  So, why should that same child be left alone with the dog — something with moving parts and a will of her own?

Children should be taught to respect anything potentially dangerous!  It is a life skill and children are not born with this knowledge.   Just as we teach a child that a stove is hot, we should teach them that there is a right way and a hundred wrong ways to interact with even the most placid, good-natured family dog.

No one thinks it’s OK for one child to pull another’s hair or ears, poke him in the eye, sit on him while he’s sleeping, or take away his toys/treats!  We call a child that “picks on” other children a bully!  And no one  would expect that other child to put up with such behavior without reacting and retaliating in some way.  So, why do we hold the family dog up to a higher standard? 

It takes a special dog to be able to live with small children.   It takes a very special temperament in either humans or dogs to withstand the noise and activity level and invasion of personal space personified that is a small child.  There is really no such thing as a Child-proof dog  — or human.  Even parents get annoyed and yell at their children, but we expect 100% good-nature from a dog?!

Unlike human adults, dogs can’t retreat behind a closed door to escape annoying behavior.  They cannot ask a child to stop, or reason with it.  A dog cannot say, “That’s enough!”  They can only react like a dog and communicate as a dog would with an annoying puppy. 

Unfortunately, children don’t understand what the dog is telling them.  They don’t know that when a dog looks up and to the side, that’s a polite way of saying, “Go away, puppy!”  They don’t know that a wrinkled lip and soft growl means, “I’m telling you to back off!”  If the dog tried to move away, a child often follows to continue the poking and prodding.  Kids push and push until the dog has no resort but to give a warning snap or correcting bite — the same thing she would do to her puppies.  The problem is the correcting bite is usually aimed at a puppy’s nose.  A puppy is protected by fur and pretty thick skin.  A child’s face is not.

Every dog has her breaking point, and adults should intervene long before she reaches it.  If a good-natured family dog growls at a child, the human adults have let the child’s behavior go too far; either that time or on previous occasions.  Please do not punish your dog, instead place yourself between the dog and child to demonstrate that you are the boss and separate them!

Even if you could “child-proof” your dog, so she put up with anything the kids could dish out — what does that teach the children?  Wouldn’t they feel free to treat any dog they meet the same way?  Grandma’s dog isn’t used to living with kids. That chance-met dog in the park may have never seen a child close-up before. The neighbor’s dog might have a touchy disposition.  Any of those dogs are unlikely to tolerate being pestered. 

Dog-proof your child by teaching him the same respect and polite, careful interaction as you would expect him to use with his siblings and playmates.  If you can’t supervise their interaction, separate the dogs and kids with baby gates.  If your dog is getting fed up, put the dog outside or in her crate — or the child in a playpen!  Correct any  inappropriate behavior from your child!  Better safe than sorry that a dog felt forced to take correction into her own jaws.


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