I consider myself very blessed that I have been around dogs for all of my life. I am a firm believer that all children, at some point in their lives, should experience owning a pet. Dogs are a front-runner for me to suggest, but of course family lifestyles, living arrangements, allergies, and finances can complicate things.
As far back as I can recall I have fantastic memories of family canines and pooches belonging to childhood friends. Our first family dog was a black Cocker Spaniel we named Freddy. There is a photo of me pushing him in a play baby carriage dressed in dolls clothing. He is sound asleep and I am thrilled to have a living “baby” to hang out with. He went to live with my Grandparents later in his life as he liked to dig out of our garden, and take off. He had many wonderful happy years living outside of the city living the country life.
Later, my parents decided that we could try having another dog, and Ben, a black Labrador, joined our family as a young pup. He was with us through most of my childhood, and was included in a picture taken with me on my wedding day. He sadly passed away shortly after I got married. I often talk with owners when a dog is near death or has died and I have noticed some unique observations.
People always talk about when they got the dog in relation to their children’s ages. They share wonderful stories about their kids and the family dog over a decade or more. The strong bond between a child and their dog is always mentioned.
I walk a Goldie-poo regularly named Fulton. He is a large dog with very human qualities. He is extremely vocal, often letting his thoughts be known and is very enthusiastic to head to the off-leash park and see other dogs. He loves his pats and has a sweetness to his eyes. By a simple look my way, he can express a multitude of emotions.
Fulton resembles a large Muppet character when his fur is shaggier and I have been blessed to see his relationship grow with a new addition to his family; Cooper, a wonderful child was added to his family a few years ago. Cooper and “Fully” are fun to see together, what with a huge difference in their sizes; I have been able to see Cooper grow from a baby to a toddler to the present, where he is heading to nursery-school and half day camps. Fulton knows which toys are Cooper’s and which are his; Cooper returns the favour. Mutual space is happily shared the majority of the time, unless a set of cars or trains gets knocked over by accident.
This past year I went to say goodbye to a sweet retriever named Emma who I had walked and boarded for years. I knew that the time was coming for her to leave us, and they kindly invited me to come and see her one last time. This meant so much to me to be included. The owner’s son had come home from university to say goodbye to Emma and was terribly upset.
I chatted with Emma’s owner and she shared that the dog was with them before she and her husband had divorced. Emma had been the glue that helped with their separation and divorce for their son, as he was an only child. The dog provided so much love, and was a great distraction for all involved.
By owning a dog children can learn responsibility, caring, routine and compassion. They allow children to laugh and bring out everyone’s inner child. I often observe kids with dogs at the off-leash. Dogs can be great conversation starters, bridging the gap from children to adult conversations. I have found that people of all ages love to chat about their beloved canine.
Children become confident knowing information about their dog’s breed or by sharing their pet’s rescue story. Kids are very savvy these days and the majority know to ask before petting a new dog that is unfamiliar.
We have a lovely family on our street with four kids. They moved in a year or so ago. I found out shortly afterwards that the young mother was terrified of dogs when I walked by with a couple of large dogs. We chatted from a “safe” distance and I became a bit frustrated as two of her small kids clung to her legs with a fear that had been passed down.
One of her older kids I could see was not fearful and was listening to us talk. I promised him that the dogs with me were wonderful with kids and were on a leash. I asked if he wanted to pat one of their backs or sides as doing so is far less scary then going near a dog’s face. As my dogs were seniors they had already laid down to rest and the opportunity was perfect.
I was completely amazed when the mother said that she would pat the dogs too; she had picked up on the vibe to trust me and to be a role model to her kids. I was so pleased, and the situation played out beautifully with Mom patting a dog and the older child as well. The younger ones came closer and I did not force them to pet the dogs but rewarded them for any small attempt.
Dogs teach children about giving love, being patient with a puppy or a senior animal, and about life’s diversity with so many shapes, colours and sizes. They teach kids to help out those without a voice, and to tend to their needs. Dogs can teach decision-making skills, like choosing a pooch’s name or deciding on when to take the animal for a walk/exercise.
We hope that as parents, our children become team players helping to teach a puppy a new skill, and to be consistent with the dog’s daily routine. Dogs add exercise to a family’s lifestyle which is a terrific perk!
Humor is one of my favorite parts of owning a dog and thinking back on childhood memories. I remember Ben, with his terrible farts that could clear a room and have us all rolling on the floor laughing as siblings. I have another memory of a huge black Newfoundland named Healthcliffe that belonged to our neighbors. He was a sweet gentle giant that would slobber all over me but I never seemed to mind with my strong “Dog Gene,” which I have written about previously, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/category/your-dog-gene.
I had a childhood friend that had a Great Dane named Ebony that I loved. We would run on their farm property and try to get ahead of the Dane chasing us with great delight. We would laugh so hard that our stomachs would hurt!
These childhood memories are so incredibly special and will be treasured my entire life. We recently spent a wonderful weekend at a friend’s cottage with their daughter age nine, and their two dogs and our two dogs. Daisey is a mini-Dachshund and Zoey is a retriever-bassett cross. I’ve mentioned Zoey before, too, in Zoey’s Story, https://dogstwentyfourseven.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/zoeys-story.
It was wonderful to see Elley, their daughter, interested in all the dogs. She would talk to them and include them for a raft/boat ride or laugh at them when they were funny. The ease and comfort she has around them is a gift, plus her understanding of their behaviour. She knows the signals that dogs give for all their moods. Elley would fondly talk of Maggie, their yellow lab, who died last year. It gave me a flash back to my time with Freddy and the years of great dog filled memories I have. It makes me so happy knowing that she has plenty more awesome dog memories coming her way.
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