Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jack's Dog Days

You know when you go to far as a parent? That moment when you are trying to warn the kids of something and you go just a bit too far and you terrify them. It's never good.

Jack has a habit of wrestling with his dog Cody. They wrestle; they growl at each other; and Jack lets Cody gnaw on his hand. It's quite a love affair. Cody thinks Jack is just another dog in the pack. He plays with Jack the same way he plays with Shiloh.

Sometimes the play gets a little rambunctious. Now when it's Shiloh and Cody going rough and tumble -- have at it. But when it's Cody and my first born going at it -- I don't think so

Cody has started jumping up (again. Didn't we fix that?) but mostly only to Jack. He jumps right in his face and tries to get a little nip in. It's definitely a "come play with me" approach, but it is not an approach that is Mother Approved.

So I've been working on Jack (he listens slightly better than the dog), trying to get him to understand that he needs to be the dog owner, not the dog. He needs to set some boundaries with Cody or I can't leave him alone with the dog. 

Jack doesn't understand why I'm being so mean. "He just wants to play, Mom."

And Cody does just want to play, but he also herds us around the house, pushes past all of us and generally thinks he owns the joint.

I try to explain to Jack that you can still play with the dog, but we need to make sure Cody understands who is in charge. At this point both the dog and the boy look at me (OK. They are trained somewhat.).

"Mom, he's just playing. It's fun. I don't mind it. I like it," my 9-year-old tries to explain. 

Mentally, I'm imagining myself trying to explain to the doctor and to reporters and to disdainful strangers why I let a clearly aggressive dog bite my kid and now he's in the emergency room and will need plastic surgery to live a normal life. (I don't know where Jack gets his overly anxious tendencies.)

And that's when I go to far:

"If the dog bites you I will have to take him to the vet and have him put down."

Seriously JoAnn? You really wanted to go there?

The looks on my children's faces brought me back quickly.

"You mean you want Cody to DIE?!"

"No. No. No."

"Mom, Cody can't DIE."

There are tears welling up. There are protective arms around dogs (I suppose in case I lash out at Shiloh too).

"No. No. No. Mom meant ..." Where am I going with this? Where CAN I go with this?

"Mom meant ..."

Mom meant not to be an idiot, but that didn't work out.

I calmed all parties down and explained that mom meant we have to be better dog owners and teach our dogs right from wrong and not let them do things that might get them in trouble. Mom did not mean she was going to kill the dogs. Mom loves dogs, remember? Mom fought with Dad to get these dogs, remember? Please remember that Mom loves your dogs...

I don't think I got through to them.

Later, I caught Jack on the stairs having a private chat with his dog. He's hugging him and laying down the ground rules: "No more nipping. Mom is really upset. We have to be careful."

Great. He's in league with the dog.

No comments: