Monday, June 9, 2014

Animal Cruelty.

This looks like a sweet picture of a boy and his dog. It is not. This is a picture of a boy who has run a dog around in circles until she's too tired to move. The poor creature is just relieved that all he wants at the moment is a pillow.

Kiddo is filled with LOVE. Big, big, love. Rough and tumble, flying leap to hug your head when you aren't expecting it kind of love. Climb on your back until it gives out just to be near you love. Big, BIG love. My body doesn't like it, but I get it. Softie, our dog, well, she deserves a medal.

We've been trying to teach kiddo to be gentle with our dog. We've been teaching it since he could sit up. Lately, however, you would think that we've been training the kid to run a dog fighting ring. He is three. Three, I am learning, is NOT gentle.

Our latest tactic has been demonstrating the difference between a good touch (like a rub on the back) and a bad touch, (like pulling hair). We've been mimicking the way he touches the dog in much the same way one would train a puppy to not be bothered by touch. If he grabs her hair and yanks, I gently grab his hair and hold. "Do you think this feels like a good touch or a bad touch?" I say with my fingers lightly laced through his hair.

"Umm..." He is thinking about it.

"What if I were to pull hard?"

I don't move, he freezes and looks up at me, "That would be very bad. I would not like it."

"Do you think Softie likes it?"

"Oh, umm, I guess not."

"Then how about we don't pull her hair, ok?"

"Well, if you insist..." He shrugs and runs off to find the dog who is trying her best to hide her head under the end table, "SOFTIE, SOFTIEEEEEEE! I am SORRY, OK? Come out so I can chase you...."

She reluctantly ambles out from under the end table, not quite ready to play chase. But, if she can keep moving, he can't pull her hair. She gives me a look that I recognize from the grocery store, that one you get from people without children that says "Seriously lady? If I had children, they would NEVER behave that way..."

Demonstrating how not to touch the dog is not proving to be an effective strategy.

The other morning he hit her with his green "back-a-pack". It's a little green bag that he totes his treasures around in. His treasures are mostly rocks and blocks. I tell him no, I brush his legs with the green back-a-pack. He decides that is not a nice touch. He doesn't like it. He won't do it again. I hand him the bag back, and he immediately whacks the poor dog and laughs. "What did we JUST talk about?!"

"Oh that time it was a joke," He says.

"Oh, well in that case..." I bump the green bag against his legs and laugh.

"Why did you do that? I don't like it."

"It was a joke. Did you like it more or less as a joke?"

"I did not like it."

"Hitting doesn't hurt less if you say it is a joke. It is still hitting."

"Really?" He is mystified. This is BIG NEWS. I can see the wheels turning, thinking up the next ploy.

"Really," I say. Then I hear myself keep talking, "if you hit her again today I will have to take your backpack away."

"Noooooo! Not my green back-a-pack!" He is horrified, and now I am stuck.

He is good all day. I remind him each time he gets near the dog. I do not want to take the green backpack away, it hasn't left his side for three weeks. If I take it, I know there will be hours of wailing and nashing of teeth and no sleep for anyone. I am praying, Please don't hit the dog. Please don't hit the dog. Please don't hit the dog.

At dinner he gets bored. He gets out of his seat and starts running laps around the house. He hip checks the dog on the third pass, sending her stumbling into the stroller. Her neck hits one of the bars. That hurt.

"The green backpack is now mine." I go to get it, kiddo at my heels, distraught. This is the worst thing he can imagine. I put it on top of the fridge-in toy time out.

"But you can't take that. It is mine. Give it back!"

"I can't buddy. This was the consequence of hitting the dog. You can have it back long as you don't hit the dog again."

"But this hurts! This hurts my heart!"

"I know. This feeling you have, this hurt, this is what other people feel when you hit them."

"Really?" He blinks at me, "I didn't know..."

"Come on, let's go finish dinner." We walk to the table hand in hand. The green back pack is forgotten for a moment. We talk about our expectations for the rest of the evening, dinner, a bath, prayers. He needs to ask God for help to remember not to hit Softie.

"I NEED my green back-a-pack back." The tears start anew, "It's an emergency for me! Can I say my prayers now?" I gather him into my lap. I know what is coming, I brace myself, I hope my husband, looking gravely at us over his quesadilla does the same.

"Ok," I say, "say after me, dear God in heaven..."

His head is bent, his eyes are squeezed shut, tears still streaming down his red face, hands clasped tightly together, he says as fervently as possible, "After me, Dear God in Heaven..."

My husband puts his hand over his mouth. Keep it together...

"Thank you for my sweet dog...."

"Thank you for my sweet dog...."

"Thank you for her patience..."

"Thank you for her patience..."

"Help me to..."

"Help me to...get my green back-a-pack back!" My husband wipes his face.

"No," I say, "help me to remember to be gentle to her..."

"Help me to remember to be gentle to her..."

"And help me to remember not to hit her...ever."

"And help me to remember not to hit her...ever."


"Amen." He turns hopefully to me, "So now when we are in bed, God will come into our house," he points to the fireplace, "and he will get my green back-a-pack down from the fridge and give it to me!" Don't laugh, don't laugh, don't laugh...

"Not quite buddy. You are the only one who can get your backpack back. God will help you remember not to hit the dog so you can have it back."

"That's a big concept for three," my husband smiles at us.

"Yes," kiddo nods solemnly. "Ok"

"Finish eating and we will get the backpack together." I smile at my husband.

"Ok Mommy."

"We love you kiddo."



No comments:

Post a Comment