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.