Doggie

Woof son,

During your first year of life on this earth, my little dog, emma, who I’d had since I was 22 years old, was living out her fifteenth year, riddled with health problems that required lots of pills, slow and unable or unwilling to walk more than half a block, a little bit funny in the head, sometimes momentarily forgetting where she was, which caused her to sometimes stand in the elevator forgetting to get out, and going pee pee in places she shouldn’t, not so much due to lack of bladder control, but more momentarily thinking that she was standing in the curb when in fact she is standing in the kitchen.

This is very most likely me totally projecting, but you seem to have an affinity for the dog. You brighten up visibly when you hear her little paws go clack-clack on the floor, announcing her entrance. You giggle uncontrollable when she puts her paws up on the bed, and you love going up to her and yanking her fur, an activity which leads to a lot of jumping up and pulling you away on my part. (Never ever trust a dog, son, no matter how well you think you know him/her, you just never know when you might pull its tail wrong and it will snap at you, not even necessarily out of anger, but more out of reflex).

I have noticed, too, that you love it when we show affection towards the dog, and it makes you very upset when we punish the dog. If I pick the dog up on my lap to pet her, you laugh with delight. When the dog pee pees where she shouldn’t, and I give her a loud sharp word and put her nose in the puddle and give her a swat, you start to cry.

This is logical, of course. Before having you around, I never thought twice about trying to get my point across to the dog, I hope you don’t think I’m an animal abuser when I say that, I just mean giving her a swat on the nose when she does a betise, which some people may or may not agree with, and which I’m starting to reconsider. I think I realize, now, that that is not good behavior for a child to witness.

First of all, it must be terrifying to a child, who must think, if I do something wrong I’m going to be punished like that.

Also, it teaches children that it’s ok to treat animals that way. I think it’s bit hypocritical. Son, I wasn’t spanked as a child, and I have no intention of using physical discipline on you, and your papa feels very strongly the same way, it’s one of the things we talked about before having children. So it doesn’t make sense that it’s ok to do this on the family pet. It teaches a mixed message, I think.

I don’t know how much longer our little doggie will be with us. She has blessed my life with her existence since I was 22 years old. I know that’s probably too many years for you to fathom at the moment, son, but even for me it is a long, long time. It is practically all of my adult life. I hope she has a few more years left in her, so you can know what a wonderful dog she is. I hope that I can instill in you a respect and love for animals. I hope you take this from your papa too, who has a big respect for animals and who has been a strict vegetarian for longer than I’ve had my little doggie. I hope we will continue to have the joy of animal companionship in our lives…

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