Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kiss Kiss, Throw My Toy!

Mina and Celeste have a strong affinity for children. Celeste more so than Mina, but they both really like them.

Celeste becomes this strange wriggling creature trying to insert herself into the world of the child while Mina becomes this patient statue, tolerating all invasions of privacy.

A couple of days ago, I was out with the dogs letting them go potty. They are always on leash (and for my ease, they are on flexi leads, the only time I use them). My neighbor and her two young nieces happened to be out at the same time.

Celeste made a beeline even before I saw the kids. She melds herself into them, tail wagging low, submissive grin, tongue trying to insert itself into mouth (sweet canine speak, but gross nonetheless). Mina ignored the kids because she had a stuffed animal and a mission of peeing to complete.

But then the 3-yr-old noticed Mina and desperately wanted to say hi. She saw Mina had dropped her stuffed animal and toddled over to grab it. I was about to restrain Mina who was all "That is my toy, small human creature!" but I didn't have to. Mina ran over, sat in front of the girl and implored her with eager eyes and forward ears to THROW THAT TOY NOW, please. And the child did. Mina gleefully leaped upon the camel, promptly brought it back to the child and shoved it in her face. Which is rude, but in Mina-speak, it means "Hello, I like you enough to let your mouth/face touch MY toy. Be grateful." The girl was and pat Mina on the head with a silly smile on her face.

Celeste came over, interested in all the attention Mina was getting. Not to be outdone, Celeste maneuvered her way in front of the child, sat down and leaned very slightly back so the little girl could maybe scratch her back or hug her. After some really gentle stroking, the girl became VERY interested in the stopping mechanism on the flexi-lead.

For the next ten minutes, she proudly "stopped" Mina and Celeste. I was actually pressing the button and I only did it when Mina and Celeste were just standing nonchalantly. But the girl was quite pleased with herself. She became even more pleased when I allowed her to hold Celeste's flexi-lead and "walk" Celeste. I kept a hold of the leash portion so that Celeste couldn't pull the girl to the ground, but man it was worth it to see her face light up. When her mom arrived, the girl proudly announced "I walks the dog!" paused and then "I also stopped them too!" She told her mom all about Mina and Celeste, though she could only remember Mina's name.

I know not all dogs like kids. I've never done much to create a positive association with children for either Mina or Celeste. I never created a negative one, either. If anything, kids were a sort of neutral stimulus that I thought would inspire disinterest on the part of Mina and Celeste. And for Mina, they pretty much do. She could take them or leave them, but her tolerance levels prevents her from aggression (this I trust with Mina, though I would never set her up for failure).

Celeste LOVES them, which is odd because it was an 8-yr-old boy and 12-yr-old girl who first abused her in Mexico - they were kicking her, dragging her by her leash and generally being abusive....even though they were bringing her to get spayed. That Mexican puppy died in surgery and was "reborn" as Celeste. True to her gentle nature, Celeste has moved on and the first time she saw a little 2-yr-old running up to her, her whole body said "YES! MY PEOPLE!" and it was true love from then on. I always keep a special eye on kids with Celeste; her threshold for pain is much lower than Mina and she's very sensitive about her ears (from a long fight against severe and painful ear infections. So while I trust Celeste to be friendly and gentle, I also trust her to be sensitive and a bit insecure about certain parts of her body and certain handling. My instinct is she would tolerate a lot more from a child than she would from an adult, but I've never put that to the test nor do I want to. I monitor how the kids touch Celeste and make sure every experience she has with children is a positive one, a pain-free one. It's the responsible thing to do. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that dogs and children are kindred spirits. That being said. Both must be watched like hawks when interacting. (Little fingers find the weirdest places to land.)

My beloved Quizz, has always loved his kids from day one. Even when he was a wiggly puppy with more energy than sense.

There is nothing better than watching a childs face light up when they have found a friend in a dog.