Whoever said dog is man's best friend has clearly never witnessed the incredible bond that can form between a child and their beloved canine. It's a time-honored tradition immortalized in children's literature, from Where The Red Fern Grows to Because of Winn-Dixie. Growing up with a dog teaches responsibility, patience, and compassion. It's a relationship that kids treasure, and it's one I didn't want mine to miss out on. As I've watched the two of them over the past three years, I've realized something: our family dog is literally my kid's BFF. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
When I was a little girl, we had two German Shepherd mixes. As a baby, my mom's dog, Nina, would let me pull to a stand using her tail. My sister and I both took our first walks around the backyard with a hand each on the backs of our giant pups. We had many more dogs growing up, but I didn't get one of my own until I was 30. I adopted my mini-Schnauzer, Sheriff, when I was living in Honduras and brought him home with me. He was 3 when my daughter was born, and he's loved her from the beginning. He's always been extremely tolerant of tail- and ear-pulling, as well as hugs and kisses. Now that she's bigger, though, they're a lot more interesting to each other as playmates.
Their connection is evident every time we pull into the driveway. She lights up when she sees him, exclaiming what a good boy he is, and they're off to play. If your child shares a special attachment to their pooch, these best friend moments will be delightfully familiar:
When She Was The Saddest Baby Who Was Ever Sad
It was my fault. I'd run my 18-month-old baby girl absolutely ragged. We'd spent all day at the Women's March in the state capitol and then followed up with dinner with family visiting from out of town. By the time we picked her puppy up from a friend's house, she was fit to be tied.
We drove home in the dark with her screaming in the back seat. It was so bad that the police officer who pulled me over for speeding let me go with a warning. Then, all of a sudden, the crying stopped. The dog had climbed up into the car seat to comfort his baby, and it worked like a charm.
When No One Else Would Go Outside With Her
This is actually a fairly frequent occurrence. I'm busy and, honestly, I just don't like being outdoors that much. Most of the time I'm perfectly happy to have my toddler go outside unsupervised with the dog as her companion. He'll not only let me know if something is amiss, he'll run her around the yard so she's tired enough to take a good nap.
When She Learned To Play His Games & Vice Versa
When my daughter was old enough to sit up, she quickly learned that tug-of-war was a fun game to play with the dog. These days, they'll play fetch, keep-away, and chase from sunup to sundown. Our little mutt hasn't caught on as quickly to what she'd like to play, but I know the days of doctor and dress-up aren't too far away.
When She Needed An Audience
The fact is, mommy doesn't always have time to listen to a toddler's recounting of an entire episode of "Elmo's World." (20 minutes about bananas? Really, Sesame Street?) If I'm cooking dinner or on the phone, though, she can usually count on the dog as a captive audience. Bonus: he's non-judgmental and doesn't care if she monopolizes the conversation.
When She Shared Her Food
You don't want to know what I would have to do to get an animal cookie out of my kid, but it would probably involve some Disneyland promises. The tail-wagger, however, is frequently offered chips and crackers from his friend's willing hand. I've tried to nip it in the bud, but I don't really want to discourage my furry vacuum-cleaner. And, I mean, she's sharing, so that's good, right?
When She Needed Someone To Blame
Her baby brother isn't even born yet, and my kid is already using the dog as a scapegoat. She was sitting on my lap facing me and squeezing my belly with her legs. I told her to stop because it hurt me, and she proceeded to "apologize" to her sibling, "It's OK, baby. Sheriff not scratch you." I mean, what's a best friend if you can't point the finger at them for something bad you did?
When She Was Mad At Me
My daughter is almost 3, so naturally, I am frequently the cause of her fury. It was the cat who would go to her when she was having a tantrum, but in his absence, the dog is a decent distraction. Plus, when so much of her life is dictated by other people (as much as I try to give her choices), it's nice for her to have someone she can at least sometimes be in charge of. In related news, I now know exactly what I sound like when doling out discipline.
When They Were Reunited
The last time I took the dog to the groomer's, my kid spent all day asking where he was and when she was going to see him again. When we finally picked him up, she exclaimed, "Oh, Sheriff pretty! Look, Mommy! I petting! I kissing!" I think it's pretty safe to say they missed each other as only BFFs can.
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