Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Toddler and our Pets


We all have fond memories of stories like, The Jungle Book and Tarzan; where small children are raised by wild animals and somehow grow into valiant young men.  These are the kinds of stories that we assume can only exist in the pages of a fantasy book, but after raising a toddler with 2 dogs and a cat I start to wonder.  Maybe if I wasn't here Ethan's animal caretakers would do an OK job.

What Ethan has learned from our animals:

1. Take care of your mess: Our dogs love to kick grass and dirt over their excrement.  One day Ethan noticed this and thought it was hilarious.  Ever since then I have caught him going to the bathroom in his diaper and if he's on the grass he quickly kicks grass behind him.

2. Independence: Our dogs are very good at using their dog door.  A few weeks ago Ethan ran to the dog door and took a head first leap into it before I could stop him.  He then proceeded to scream, "Help, Ethan stuck!" It was one of those moments when I thought, "Oh my gosh, I have to get my camera!" But my camera was out of reach, and Ethan was scared, so I helped him out of the dog door instead.

3. Protecting your home and family: Chloe and Mica are chihuahua terrier mixes, so of course they are incredibly yappy.  They have taught Ethan that the mail man is their arch nemesis and that anytime he comes around, or any slight noise is heard, that they must bark angrily or our house will be invaded and destroyed.  Now when any sudden movement or noise is heard I not only have 2 barking dogs, I also have a barking toddler.

4. Always show gratitude: At first Ethan would get scared when the dogs licked him, but we explained that that was their way of telling him they loved him.  So naturally when Ethan wants to show gratitude and love he also licks now.  We have even caught him grooming our dog Mica on many occasions; yes, it's exactly what you are imagining.

5. Being Resourceful: On more than one occasion I have found Ethan trying to drink out of the dogs' water bowl.  Although his own water cup was just a few steps away.  After watching the dogs take what looks like refreshing slurps all day long why not give it a try? He has also curled up in their dog beds when needing a short rest.
Pauli insisted on having her photo done at
Sears for this post.

6. Know your surroundings: One day Ethan saw the dogs smelling leaves and twigs on our walk, he asked me what they were doing.  I told him that that's how dogs can tell where they are going and who has been there before.  Now if Ethan is checking something out for the first time he makes sure to give it a really good sniff.  I'm really trying to teach him that we don't sniff strangers though.

7. Using his imagination:  We mustn't forget our cat, Pauli.  Ethan loves her very much because she is very mysterious.  He has created an alter ego which I call Gatito (cat in Spanish). When Ethan becomes Gatito he meows, purrs, rubs against you to show you affection, and crawls underneath tables.  I have found Gatito to be a great listener, rule follower, and have a very good appetite.  When Ethan's having a hard time following directions I even ask for Gatito to come out and play, he's been a great addition to the family.

At some point Jeff and I decided that all of this madness wasn't enough, we had too much time on our hands and not enough to do.  So we recently adopted a Leopard Gecko who we named Noodles (Ethan's favorite food).  He hasn't been here long enough for Ethan to pick up any useful skills, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
One of my favorite childhood images is that of Nana, the dog from Peter Pan.  As I child I would daydream about having a dog for a nanny, and I always felt that she did a great job.  At this point I'm ready to go out and buy 3 small bonnets, because in all honesty I think our pets are doing a pretty good job of keeping our toddler in line.

If you're interested in reading about the benefits of raising kids with dogs from a scientific standpoint here's a link to my sister's (she's a microbiologist) blog post on Furry Friends and Beneficial Bugs

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