Tuesday, November 8, 2011

All My Children

My son's youngest cousin, my soon to be one-year-old nephew, appears to be allergic to dogs.  The dogs at my parents' house come around him and his eyes immediately start to turn red, and water.

All while my son runs tearing by, holding out a squeaky toy so the dogs will chase and jump on him.  It makes me really bummed for my nephew.

My son loves animals, and the bond he shares with our pets is precious.  Last night he spent about 20 minutes wrestling around on the floor with our ever-so-patient hound-dog-and-something mix.  He hugged her, and giggled like a maniac when she licked his face.  (It grosses me out, but my son thinks doggy kisses are the best thing ever.)  He played tug with her over a piece of rawhide, chasing her down and pulling the treat right out of her jaws every time she got it away from him.  Though we kept warning him to be gentle on the doggy, and leave her food alone, not once did she snap or even growl at him.

Later that evening, he decided it was one of our cat's birthday, so he built him a cake out of duplo blocks and sang to him, bringing him toys as "presents".  Then he got the cats all together to play "coffee party" (like tea party, but for boys raised by caffeine addicts).  He set cups in front of the cats, and made them pretend to drink from them.  The cats were remarkably patient with this, probably because my son insists on being the one to give them treats daily.

I looked over at one point, and saw that he had a grip on our feral rescue's front paw, just holding onto it.  None of our cats are declawed, but, judging from the way my son was neither crying nor bleeding, the cat was very calmly letting him hold onto his foot.  (If you have ever had a cat, or even been around them much, you know that they really don't like for anyone to touch their feet.)

I asked my son, "Baby, what are you doing with Ash?"

"I hold kitty hand."

The kicker is, if myself or my husband tried to do that, we would have a few new piercings in our palm.  But our animals tolerate almost everything from our son.  I guess since they've been around since before he was born, and have seen him raised from a newborn, they accept him as part of their "pack".  So they treat him like their pup or kitten; maybe a little annoying at times, but they don't expect him to know any better.

And it helps us, too, in that my son now naturally knows how to act around animals.  When we've been out and run into other dogs at the pet store or walking around the neighborhood, strangers have always complimented us on his good manners with other people's pets, how he waits for permission to touch the dog, then holds out his hand (underneath the dog's chin, never over it's head) for the dog to sniff before petting him.  My son was the darling of the volunteers at a greyhound rescue event we checked out, and we were told repeatedly how gentle and calm he was with the dogs.  Which makes sense, if you think about it.  Animals are a part of his everyday life, not a novelty, so he doesn't get overexcited by the presence of new ones.

Also, I have to hope that, being raised around animals, my son will never reach a point where he starts pestering us for his "own" puppy or kitten.  The ones we already have are pretty much his, at this point, anyway.

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