Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Dog Is a Toddler's Best Friend

We once had a Boykin Spaniel named Laddie. Laddie was like a son to my hb and I, we referred to him as our furry son. He was a very friendly and smart dog, and everybody loved him especially the kids. My hb had him when he was still a pup and he was the center of his attention. Laddie used to sleep in his bed at night and on the couch at daytime. But when we got married, I changed the rule. I bought Laddie one of those pet beds that we put beside our bed on the floor and it took a while for Laddie to get used to using it. He was whining at night trying to get up on the bed, but we stick to the rule and he did just fine.

I'm glad that when my son came, Laddie was still alive. A dog can not only be a toddler's best friend, it can also be his best learning tool. This is true of pets in general, but especially true of dogs. From a dog, a young child can learn about animals and nature, about responsibility, about empathy, about getting along with others, about unconditional love and loyalty. A toddler can help with the care and feeding of a dog, a welcome role reversal for one who is usually on the receiving end and everyone else's caregiving. He can count on his dog to be there for him when he needs it or wants it; unlike parents, dogs are hardly ever too busy for a cuddle or a romp. And since dogs, especially young ones, like to run, jump, frisk, and frolic just as toddler do, they can join in the toddler games for which parents often lack energy or enthusiasm.

I wish our furry dog was still alive now that my son is old enough to care for him. But my son still remembers him when he looks at his old photos. They had a good time together and I'm pretty sure Laddie taught our son to have compassion for animals.

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