Lessons of Love

My little grandchildren were over on Sunday for our traditional St. Patrick’s day dinner.  My grandson is five and my granddaughter is two.

They’re both a little shy with the dogs when they first come in and truthfully I can’t blame them.  I mean to put it into their perspective the dogs look to them like a bull or horse look to us.

And if I saw a bull or horse running full at me, I’d whimper a little bit too, even if my Daddy were holding me and telling me I was okay.

But once the dogs settle down, the kids are very comfortable around them.

Which doesn’t mean I don’t watch them, I’m constantly watching and educating them.

Watch out for the dog.

Don’t do that to the dog.

She doesn’t want you to pet her right now!

The last one was after my grandson decided he wanted to pet Delilah. Which is in and of itself a good thing.  I was in the kitchen doing something (now here’s a surprise, I can’t remember what) when he made the announcement, “I’m going to pet her.”

The assumption is if I’m in the kitchen and both dogs are with me, I’m probably working with food.  Delilah can get a little snarky around food, so my eyes were focused on the interaction.

He proceeded to stroke his hand down her back and then back up, moving her fur in a way she is only accustomed to when she is being toweled.

Delilah shifted slightly to her right.  He moved with her and continued his stroking.

Delilah moved again, again he moved with her.

Delilah barked and walked away.

At which point I said, “She doesn’t want you to pet her right now.

He decided he would then pet Sampson.

I took the opportunity to explain to him that dogs cannot speak to us and tell us that they do not like something, instead they might bark at us like Delilah did.

I also showed him Sampson’s teeth and said, do you see these big teeth?  If you continue to do something a dog doesn’t like, the dog might bite you.  And that would really hurt.  Then I showed him a scar I have from a dog bite and explained that I didn’t get it from either Sampson or Delilah, but we should still be respectful about what dogs need and how they speak to us.

A few moments later my grandson had taken off the door-sized magnet of Sampson that I have on my refrigerator and was showing it to Sampson.

IMG_4497 I heard him say, “This was when you went to the beach in North Carolina Sampson when you had little teeth.

It was a cute ending to our lesson of love.

It’s not just a lesson of love to prevent my grandchildren from being bitten, it’s also a lesson of love for my pets.  To be their voice and not put them in a position where they are forced to speak for themselves.

What types of lessons of love do you teach your little friends?

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  1. says

    Sweet! Being the freak that I am I would’ve stepped in after Delilah’s first shift away from the tyke, but that’s because I have limited experience with little humans, nor do my dogs.

  2. says

    Nice job Jodi. When we have small visitors, often it is at large gatherings where I can only keep a partial eye on the dog/child interactions. Which means, Leah and Meadow get put away. Leah is not fond of children, at all, and I’m afraid that a child might frighten Meadow. Toby is the ambassador and is usually out with us, but always in the same room, where I can still keep an eye out. My biggest lesson is when the kids are having Toby do tricks. He will keep doing them, even after he is exhausted, so I have to explain that he is tired and has had enough. :-)

  3. says

    Nice story, Jodi. You are the most responsible pet owner I know.

    Our youngest granddaughter was severely bitten on the face by a small West Highland terrier at a cousin’s house they were visiting during Thanksgiving. Everyone was distracted. Fortunately, she now has only a small, almost imperceptible scar there. It doesn’t have to be a big dog to be dangerous.

  4. says

    I am wild with kids, I jump all over them and want to play but they are always scared of me which makes me sad. My sister is like a living stuffed dog, so they all want to hang out with her, lay on her, pet her, just Katie, Katie, Katie…makes me so jealous but I just can’t stop being wild. Since we don’t have mini-humans in our house I don’t have any to practice with.

  5. says

    I don’t allow kids near Doggy, mainly because Doggy doesn’t like to be petted by other than my circle of people and even with them is when he feels like being petted.
    He has barked at kids approaching in the past, he doesn’t like “jumpy”, it applies to kids and other dog and even adults.
    He’s just cranky lol

  6. says

    What a good story! I love the end!

    We have kids over our house all the time and it is extremely important to me that I take the time and teach them how to interact with our dogs since they are so big. It’s all about respect and I have to say that most kids get it because if they are frequent visitors I can tell they were listening to me when I explained our “dog rules” by their actions.

  7. Sue @ The Golden Life says

    Great story, Jodi!! You are my role model for responsible dog owners!! I truly wish more people were like you!! Tell me, how do YOU explain things like Delilah not wanting to be petted to a 2-year-old? Especially a 2-year-old with a mind of his own?

  8. says

    He sounds like a sweet kid and I think it is awesome that you are teaching them how to behave around dogs! Cali loves kids, mostly because they always seem to smell like food :) She doesn’t really enjoy being petted by anyone, unless they are going to exchange a treat for the pet!

  9. says

    I love how you are teaching the little ones to be respectful of animals. It is such a good lesson to teach them, and also you are wise to not leave them alone and just trust that our beloved dogs would never react negatively to anything our beloved children/grandchildren may do. Keeping everyone safe and learning the lesson of mutual respect is wonderful.

  10. says

    You’re right – just the cutest ending. So important, though, for children to learn when and where it is alright to be petting a dog. Just as important to be as responsible an owner as you are, always watching and taking care.

  11. says

    You’re so right to keep an eye on dogs and children round food. It’s the one time our girl dog gets iffy – she also doesn’t like the cats near us when cooking 😉

  12. says

    That’s a really nice story Jodi. The other night I was assisting in a friend’s class, working with a shy spaniel and her people, and the daughter kept hugging the dog around the neck. The dog tolerated it, and had no pronounced signs of distress, but he probably didn’t love it. I was struck by how difficult it is to convey to people what dogs might be feeling–especially when the communication involves telling people what their kids shouldn’t do–since they so often give no overt signs. What you did is wise I think and probably more effective–speaking to the child directly rather than relying on a responsible adult to act on behalf of a dog. For a lot of people, the child’s desires are going to win out.

  13. says

    Little kids always think my Poodles are like toys when we go for walks. I always try to teach them about how to behave around dogs. i like to think I am doing good things for them and any dogs they might meet.

  14. says

    Good lesson indeed, Jodi. I know that when little kids come up to my dog, Dexter, generally the parents ask if Dexter is friendly. However, some kids will then try to smack his tushie or yank his tail. I have to show the parents and child how to pet my dog and not cause fear or upset.

  15. says

    Good for you! I live in *terror* of children running up to pet Silas. “I want to pet the doggie!” is a line straight out of my nightmares. Not that children are especially the problem, but he doesn’t want *anybody* running toward him. An adult has more sense. Children are also inveterate head-patters, probably because we do it to them.

    I tell all my parent friends, “Please make sure your child knows not to go up to strange dogs uninvited!”

  16. says

    No little ones at our house. However, I have to admit I am extra cautious when I am out with Blueberry. She’s very sweet and calm, but I also don’t want her to be “tested” with overly aggressive, dog-ignorant kids. So, any child that runs up towards her wanting to pet her I give a firm NO to. If they politely ask a safe distance away and approach her slowly and calmly, they are allowed to pet her. The dog-ignorant kids far outnumber the ones that know the proper way to approach a dog though. I figure my job is to protect Blueberry, not make some little out of control kid happy.

    You are so good at monitoring the dogs and little boy!

  17. says

    Cute story! Rita has had very little exposure to little ones, but we did go over and say hello to some kids in the neighborhood, whose mom asked if they could say hi. I gave them some treats to give her to win her over and showed them how to scratch her under the chin. She did so good with them, which is great because she can be shy with strangers. (Of course… strangers with treats is something else though…)

  18. says

    Smart! That’s an important lesson. Kids who don’t have a lot of contact with dogs, will sometimes put their hand over Cupcake’s head. Which to her means jump up. I am always saying put your hand down under her head, so she can sniff you. Pet her under her chin first, then on her head.

  19. says

    Reading this is a reminder to help children to understand and respect all animals. Sometimes our dogs just want to be left alone, so we have to remind children to give them some space. This lesson of love you shared with your grandchildren is very true, so they don’t forget how to treat their pet friends. Great lesson of love, that all children need to understand!

  20. says

    Bunny usually comes to school to visit my class of three and four year olds a couple of times a year, but she hasn’t been in so far this year. For a lot of the kids I have in class, most big dogs are scary animals. A lot of people keep Pitties or Shepherds and walk them on chains, and they have a very aggressive air about them. Meeting Bunny is the first time a lot of them have seen a big dog, and we talk about how to approach a dog, asking permission to pet first and what kinds of things dogs like and don’t like. Hopefully, the lessons carry over to other aspects of their lives as they grow up!

  21. says

    Great lessons! I wish I had been as attentive and ready to teach when my quadruplet nephews and niece used to come visit when we had our dog Princess. She bowled them over many times, and now they’re afraid of dogs!

  22. says

    Little teeth, but do you remember how sharp they were, my Mum does about mine! :)

    It’s great to educate both children and dogs how to behave around each other, I have little friends, my Mum is always really careful to ensure we all have a good time when we’re together :)

    Wags to all

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  23. says

    Very well said Jodi.
    That’s a great lesson indeed, I admire the way you deal with things like that. Not all the time our pets are in good mood, so we really have to be aware with that as well as our little ones, they should know about it too.


  24. says

    Very cute story. None of our dogs have spent any time around kids so Im very catious when kids ask to pet them I only allow it if I have them out in small groups I do think dogs are great for kids though I used to hve a therapy dog visit my special ed class and it was lovely

    urban hounds


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