Before getting into the many, many reasons why I’m glad our little boy has three dogs to call his best friends I want to tell you a story. This story took place when I was only nine. My best friend in the entire world was a Rottweiler named Storm. We did everything together – played in the mud, laid in the grass, played ball, and he even watched over me as I rode my bike up and down our street. The best thing Storm did for me every day was walk me to and from the bus stop. Each morning I would load up my backpack and head out the door with Storm right beside me. He would wag his little stump of a tail as I talked about all the fun things I was going to do in school. He would sit patiently at the end of the street until the school bus came, then he would walk home to wait until it was time to pick me up again. No matter the temperature or weather conditions, Storm never failed. He was always by my side.
One day while waiting for the bus like we had done hundreds of times before, a man in a red SUV pulled up. He didn’t live down my street and I had never saw him before. He rolled down his window and started talking to me. I wasn’t sure what to do. There was no one else around, so I answered. He complimented by dog and me. At this point Storm was now standing a little in front of me with my hand on his back. He was keeping a close eye on this new stranger. He told me he liked to take pictures and would love to get one of me and my dog some day. I replied with the fact the school bus should be pulling up any minute. He then asked if I would go with him to get his camera so we could come back to take pictures. All the red flags and alarms were going off in my head. This was a BAD man.
Within moments he had started opening his door. My hand left Storm’s back and next thing I know my protector had jumped through the car window towards this man. I took off. I ran as fast as I could back to my house. Screaming for my Mom and Dad. By the time I reached the front porch Storm was by my side.
I told my parents what had happened and they immediately called the sheriff’s office. To this day I’m not sure exactly what happened next, but the man did live in the neighboring subdivision and within a few months he moved out of town.
Storm saved my life. I truly believe he saved me. I know I couldn’t have out ran this grown man at only 9 years old, but because of Storm I got away.
That story is the main reason I want our son growing up with dogs. Dogs that will protect him, walk with him and keep an eye on him. Just like Storm did for me all those years ago.
Now there are many other reasons I want our son growing up with dogs, which aren’t as scary as my story.
Dogs are loyal. The moment we brought our son home our three dogs knew he was theirs to take care of. They get up through out the night to sleep by his crib or just to peek their head in to make sure he’s okay. Tiny, who is my scared-of-everything dog has to be near him at all times. She follows him, and if he cries she’s the first on by his side – often pushing me out of the way.
Dogs teach responsibility. Dogs are a huge commitment. It’s important for our son to learn to care for another being. He is learning how to pet gently, play with them and will eventually learn how to feed and take care of their water bowl. At an early age it can help your child feel needed and they can learn the importance of having a few small jobs around the house.
Dogs help with learning new skills. I can remember sitting on the front porch until it was too dark to see reading a new book to Storm or one of my other dogs. Reading out loud to your dog can help your child learn new cognitive skills. Kids who talk to their pets show improved cognitive skills and imagination.
Dogs can help your child be healthier. Dogs want to play, a lot. Chase toys, run in the backyard or just keep your child moving around the house. By having a dog (or in our case three) we’re never short of a dog wanting to play. Taking our son outside in the backyard with a bunch of dog toys will keep him and our dogs occupied. This give him a chance to be outside in the fresh air, play with more than just those annoyingly loud baby toys and shows the dogs just how great their new human brother is.
Dogs can boost a child’s self-esteem. This goes back to teaching responsibility. By having our son help with a few tasks each day he can feel proud of what he has accomplished. Not only is he taking care of a living being, but he’s helping out Mommy and Daddy around the house. I can think back to where my job growing up was cleaning up the yard (you know what I mean….). It was dirty and smelly, but I knew it had to be done. I felt proud knowing my dogs yard was clean and healthy for him to be in. My parents were proud because I helped (and because they no longer had to do it). I knew what it mean to pitch in and help out, and that was pretty great.
I know it’s important for our little man to have dogs in his life, just like I did growing up and just like J did. To me a dog is a best friend, someone who knows all of your secrets and never judges you. Someone you saved the last bite of your grilled cheese for and laugh when you get slobbered with kisses after being gone all day. That’s the love I want our son to know and feel. The protection at the bus stop will just be an added benefit and will give me a peace of mind.