Dad’s View: Trust in Dog

Long weekend here at the Lacy abode.  No, the munchkins didn’t have Friday or Monday off… it was just a LONG weekend.  Lots of sibling shenanigans, silly schedules, sleepless situations and dreadful dieting.  One of those 48-hour periods where you question your ability to continue this whole parenting racket.  However, there was always one I could turn to in the midst of the madness.  Someone who always has lots of love, caring eyes, unlimited hugs and more than enough wet kisses to allow me to make it through the lunacy.   I’m, of course, talking about my dog, Sadie, the chocolate lab.  Without her to hold me steady, this weekend could have featured sirens and fire trucks and events that mimic the absolute worst parts of the Old Testament.

This weekend also got me thinking: if I’m ever elected President (which is about as likely as the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl… or maybe even a single game) my first act of state would be to require any potential parent to first own a dog (Side note:  sorry, cat people–I do not understand your fondness for felines).  Once you complete a few years of study with a pup, then you can try your hand with a miniature Homo sapien.  Of course, that sounds as crazy as my circa-1987 idea of an automatic transmission for a 10-speed bike (yep, I’m that lazy), but someone has actually figured that out, so maybe I’m onto something.  Why would I require everyone to spend months with a mongrel?  Because dogs are exceptional teachers.

Learning from a lab or studying with a shepherd is, in my opinion, the best proving ground for toddler training. Amazon’s most outstanding child rearing book can’t touch Professor Pooch, and, despite their intelligence, Kumon’s best are no match for a hands-on PhD in doggie development.  Unfortunately for me, I did it backwards.  Not one, not two, but three non-furry creatures were roaming the home before the fur ball arrived.  So, let me state my case endorsing prefacing the person you want to have with a pooch, with a few teaching topics.

Education.  Fido can be taught, but only via repetitive education.  Teach your dog how to sit, stay and obey, and it will save you millions of minutes down the road.  They will learn, but it takes time and repetition. Same with kids: put in the effort to teach manners, how to always say ‘please’ and to stay in their own bed all night, and you will reap the benefits.  Otherwise, you will have the belligerent boy or goofball girl that the neighbors avoid, and you will be the parent sleeping in the short bed for the next decade.

Exercise. Dogs love it, and kids will too; as long as you follow through with your daily demand for it.  Ignore the pooch’s needs for a walk, and they might ignore your needs for a clean carpet.  Make the effort to get them out each and every day.  Case in point – a friend of mine was one of five children adopted by a family in St. Louis.  Each day, when they arrived home from school, they were given a healthy snack and a glass of water.  Then, they were tossed outside, the door was locked and they were not allowed back in until dinner.  None of the five children were biologically related; however, all five children went on to play sports at the Division 1 level (true story).  Yeah, that’s probably an outlier and there’s likely a little luck involved, but the fact that they were outside running, playing, kicking, screaming, etc., each day had to help their physical prowess.  Dogs love to be outside; learn from them.

Patience.  Kids are going to be kooky, dogs are going to be dopey, but you gotta roll with the wags and the wackiness.  This weekend has put me on the very edge of sanity; however, that’s what garages and beer fridges are for.  Example:  The dog decided, after coming in from the rain-soaked backyard, that this would be the ideal moment to try jumping on the couch for the first time.  The kids responded by chasing the muddy mutt off the couch and into my bedroom… and onto my bed. Despite the damage inflicted, the dog sat still while being cleaned up, then proceeded to lay on my feet and stare at me with those darn cute puppy dog eyes.  Kids break stuff, and dogs really don’t care about your stuff, and in the end it’s all just stuff; be patient.

Love.  As Paul taught, you need faith, hope and, most of all, love.  Here is a situation where the “master” must become the student.  Despite whatever your hound throws at you – or on you – they are absolute Jedis at teaching love. You remember the Flintstones, right?  Dino went b-a-n-a-n-a-s whenever Fred came in the house, and in this situation, life does truly imitate art (Wow, did I just make the case for the Flintstones to be considered art?).  Every time I leave the house to get the mail, my dog greets me like I just returned from the moon.  Not to get too deep, as we all know I’m pretty shallow, but tomorrow is never promised, so why not get a little excited each time we see each other?

So, like I said, if elected POTUS (chortle, chortle) I’d require everyone to go a few rounds with a mutt before a munchkin.  And, if I had to do it all over again, I’d go canine before kid.  Dogs will teach you some great lessons, and, let’s face it, for training purposes, plastic bag waste removal is far easier than meconium disposal.   Those of you without kids, go ahead and Google “meconium;” those of you with kids, yeah, you feel me.

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