An Open Letter to Parents -- From a Dog
My name is Bailey and I am a dog.
I’m usually pretty easygoing. I enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like running, playing, eating, and most of all, spending time with my humans.
Normally, I don’t stick my nose in other people’s business, but today I had to drop the pretense of being a simple dog. I’m furiously typing up this letter to email to the editors at Dogster. I’ve seen too much and I can no longer stay silent. I share my story with you in the hopes of fostering better relations between dogs and kids all over the world.
My story began one fine day when one of my humans was sitting at the kitchen table. Of course, any wily canine will tell you that the table is where you want to be if you’re hankering for a snack. I was salivating at the thought of a tasty treat coming my way when I noticed something was amiss. (Being a dog, we're blessed with superpowers of observation and awareness.)
I sensed tension radiating from my human and spotted the slightest furrow between her brows. Immediately, I was on high alert and nosed in closer to investigate. What had inspired this sudden change in my human’s usually calm demeanor? Raising myself up on my hind legs, I took a peek at the monitor and what I saw terrified me.
The horror! The horror!
A small video was playing. I saw a beautiful Golden Retriever peacefully lounging on the floor. Out of nowhere, a miniature human suddenly hurled his body upon her delicate back. He kept bouncing on the dog as if he were riding a horse. In direct contrast to the haunting scene unfolding on the screen, a soundtrack of human merriment -- laughter and giggling -- was playing in the background.
Now, I have some experience with the wee ones, so I know that they need a bit of training to get in line. While I certainly wouldn’t want one jumping on my back, I can understand if this happens once. That wasn’t what was horrifying.
The horror was that it kept repeating over and over again while the humans did nothing. Worse yet, they appeared to derive great enjoyment from the poor dog’s suffering. She was clearly distressed. The whites of her eyes were showing and she licked her nose numerous times. While those cues might be too subtle for some humans, it was clear as day that her ears were pinned and she was panting considerably.
I was incredulous that the people did not notice these signs. Maybe it was because they were laughing so much at the “precocious” antics of their child. Did they not care that their laughter came at the expense of their loyal and faithful companion?
I like to believe in the good of humans -- that almost every human has a heart of gold. I had to assume that they simply did not know better. Thus, I wanted to share five golden rules that seem obvious as day to a dog, but may not be so obvious when you are a parent and have your hands full looking after your kids.
1. Dogs are not stuffed animals
Dogs are cute and friendly looking, but children must be taught that real dogs are not the same as stuffed animals. This must be taught in your home if you have a dog or BEFORE you visit a friend with dogs.
2. We put up with stuff not because it’s okay, but because we love you and want to be with you
A dog who tolerates a child jumping on her back is not interested in playing horsey. She is a faithful friend and her loyalties will always be to her family, even if they’re annoying. That’s why she will allow your mini human to yank her tail.
I assure you that your dog does not enjoy having her fur pulled. She puts up with it because she is a noble companion. You would not allow your child to torment a sibling in such a manner, so please extend the courtesy to the dogs in your life, too.
3. If you tell your child not to pet the dog, your child will, 100-percent guaranteed, try to pet the dog
When you are visiting friends, if they ask that your child not pet the dog, there is a good reason for it. Simply telling your child not to pet the dog does not absolve you of your responsibility, because your child simply cannot resist reaching out. Hey, we’re adorable. That’s why you have to keep an eye on your kid to ensure that she doesn’t try to pet the dog when you’re not looking.
4. Please let me eat in peace
You don't enjoy eating meals with a squirming child grabbing the food off your plate. I don’t like it either. The constant threat of a hand reaching into my bowl triggers my territorial instincts and I may growl.
5. Watch for these signs of distress
It’s easy to spot when we’re upset. Here’s what to look for:
- Visible eye whites or looking away
- Yawning or panting
- Licking nose and mouth
- Ears pinned back and held low
- Tail lowered
While these golden rules may seem harsh, please appreciate that dogs are “people” too. All we ask is for a little mindfulness and respect for our needs, too.
Thanks for listening!
Read more about dogs and kids:
- Do These Dog Photos Make You as Nervous as They Make Me?
- 10 Ways Having Dogs Has Prepared Me for Parenthood
- How Kids Can Help Dogs Feel Safe
- Not That You Need Them, But Here Are 6 Reasons to Get a Puppy for Your Kids
- How to Choose the Best Dog for Your Family
- What NOT to Do with Your Baby Around Dogs -- Yours or Others
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
- The 10 Naughtiest Dog Breeds
- The World's Most Popular Dog Names for 2013
- 5 Myths About Dog Behavior That Often Lead to Tragedy
About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a lifelong environmentalist, practicing Taoist, Dragon Spirit Guide and Chinese Reflexologist who can bend reality at will. She's totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles' heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Dogster articles. Check her out at her Chinese reflexology website.