a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Good With Kids

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Good With Kids

Jake does not like small children.

He didn't learn that while living with us, I can assure you.

A glob of friends visited last night, including my 3-and-a-half-year-old nephew, Alex. Alex had been warned in the past about avoiding Jake. This is counterintuitive to kids: What they really want is to avoid the dog(s) who loom large over them and look somewhat like coyotes and to snuggle the little cute fluffy dog with floppy ears.

Alex was very good and avoided Jake. He avoided Tika for a while, too, even though she was on her best behavior around him.

The evening progressed, as evenings are wont to do, with various activities, alarums, and excursions, and in various means we ended up here: All of the other adults in the living room, partying down. Me, standing in the kitchen, leaning on the railing overlooking the family room. Alex, standing or lying on the dogs' beds, not quite in hyperactive mode but verging on it.

Jake, bringing his ball and dropping it directly at Alex's feet on the bed for Alex to throw--not grabbing at it when Alex reached for it (which he often does for me and other adults), not snapping it out of Alex's hands when Alex didn't throw it immediately (although you could SEE that he WANTED to quite desperately), just waiting eagerly for the ball to be tossed. And although Jake eventually gets disgusted with me if I just kick or toss a toy a few inches ("OK, if you're not going to be SERIOUS about this serious thing, I'll go obsessively lick my feet for a while."), he picked up Alex's every toss, no matter how short (most were barely off the edge of the dog bed) and immediately returned it for more.

Tika, hanging in the background with a large soft squeaky, mouthing it quietly (not getting bored in a wild and uncontrolled manner like she would for me after about 1.5 milliseconds of inattention), and periodically coming over to Alex. Alex would put his hand on the toy and Tika would immediately let go of it and wait patiently for him to toss it for her.

I believe I was impressed that a child Alex's age was playing nicely with my dogs, but it soitainly impressed the bejeezus out of me how nicely my dogs were playing with Alex!

Alex declared that this was Dog School (my sister later told me that they had been reading a book about a naughty dog who had to go to dog school) and periodically crawled into a hole in the wall to "rest his legs."

I didn't know quite what to do about Casey, because his mom wasn't around for me to ask how he was around small children, so I watched him pretty closely. He seemed cautiously curious. At one point, late in the evening, Alex began running in circles through the kitchen, library, living room, entry, kitchen, library, living room, entry--and Casey trotted right behind him, trying to get a good sniff, tail wagging slightly, for several circuits before it occurred to him to get in FRONT of Alex and try to stop the parade that way. It didn't work for more than a moment, but after that Casey wandered off to steal a toy from Jake.

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