In Which the Equuschick Goes Educational

She here offers one of her newspaper articles, written for the shelter she works at, for your consideration.

Every responsible person who has ever owned a dog knows how important training is, especially where children are concerned. A good dog knows, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that aggression towards a child will not be tolerated under any circumstances. This is as it should be, even the sweetest natured dog will not be aware of the damage it could do to a 3 year old child in a single moment of irritation, and even the smartest dog will not always be able to distinguish between being disciplined for snarling at a child who was only stroking the dog’s back, and being disciplined for snarling at a child yanking at his ears. To avoid any confusion, the safest thing is to ensure the dog knows that child aggression is never acceptable.

But while all of this is being done, let us not forget that, for two reasons, children should be given as much training as the dog. First of all, it is simply unfair to expect the dog to do all the work in the relationship. Though the perfect dog who will never snarl at a child is the ideal we should strive for in our training, this perfect dog does not exist and it’s possible to ask too much of even the most loving animal. Secondly, it is best for the child’s own well-being if he understands basic dog safety. You may invest a great deal of time and effort teaching your dog to tolerate children, the owner whose dog runs around town as a stray probably did not invest in the same training. As a result, the stray dog who wanders into your yard most likely has no idea how to act around a strange child. By default, it becomes your responsibility to teach the child how to act around a strange dog.

What are some dog safety guidelines to teach your children? When considering an unknown animal, the best thing you can teach your children is to just leave it alone. It’s a hard lesson for curious children to learn, but you need to make it absolutely clear to them that it is never okay to approach a loose and unknown animal. Teach them to recognize the mood of a dog by its body posture- a dog with its tail between its legs, sunk low to the ground, is a frightened dog who will be unpredictable and should be left alone. A dog “taking a bow”, with his rear up in the air and his chest laying down, is a dog in a playful mood, who will not be aggressive but probably won’t be gentle, either. A dog with his ears rolled back and the hairs on the back of his neck raised is an aggressive dog , and should not be approached under any circumstances. Find pictures of these dogs online and show them to your children. Teach them what do in the rare case of a truly aggressive dog who may attempt an attack; look this up online as well, and make sure they are prepared.

In some cases, unknown dogs will be accompanied by their owners. Children must learn to ask permission before approaching the dog, and must ask the owner for an introduction to the dog.

Unknown dogs are not the only dogs that present a safety to risk to uneducated children. Any family dog, when feeling threatened by a child, can bite.

Children often have a hard time understanding that animals aren’t toys. A stuffed dog whose ears are pulled by a child will not react the way a real dog would, children must be made to realize that pulling the ears of the family pet is cruel to the dog and dangerous to themselves.

Many young children also engage in the dangerous game of “teasing” the family pet- pretending to offer the dog a treat, and then pulling it back. THIS IS NOT OKAY. A game this frustrating is bound to aggravate even a good-natured dog, and in some cases the dog himself may not even be annoyed, but the mouth that was open to receive the treat will accidentally close on the hand that pulled the treat away. A sister of mine was once bitten in this way by the best dog my family ever had, and the saddest thing was how devastated the dog was. He had never meant to hurt her.

No doubt you were already aware of the hazards teasing and ear pulling can present, but other dog safety guidelines are less obvious. Whatever we do with a dog, we must remember to ask how things look from his point of view- that of a carnivorous predator who functions in a distinct hierarchy. As an example, it is fairly common for young children and even adults to want to hug a dog around the neck. To us, it seems only a sweet and touching gesture. To a dog, pressure around the neck is similar to a disciplinary, even an aggressive, action that occurs in a dog pack. No doubt you have seen dogs in a fight go for the neck of their opponent, and for this reason some dogs are uncomfortable with a child putting pressure on the neck, and will react defensively.

By the same token, we must remember that dogs themselves were often prey as well as predators in the wild, and we must careful how we approach them. Let any dog, whether you know it or not, see and smell you before you pet it. Be careful of your body language as you approach them. Though direct eye contact with your family dog is something you can train it to be comfortable with, direct eye contact with a strange dog is not a good idea. As you approach a dog, be careful not to tower directly over it. Kneeling is a good way to make your posture as unthreatening as possible. Never directly corner a dog, this is only what predators do to prey- and the dog will react defensively.

Whatever you do, the important thing for all children to remember is that a dog is an individual,and a very alive being- He feels pain and fear as the child does, he has good days and bad days, as the child does. If you must, and you *must*, insist that your dog tolerate anything and everything a child does, it is only fair to ask for a modicum of patience and consideration from your child.

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The Leader Alone

I believe that it was C.S. Lewis who said that leaders are often alone and being asked by others why they are going in the wrong direction.
Someone leading should be in the front and looking over the horizon. When he or she sees someting that turns out to be either a dead end of simply not the desired outcome the leader will turn around. The followers will ask why the leader is not headed in the same direction as they. The only appropriate response is that “I have already been down that road, seen its outcome, and have turned around.”

The leader is the one who is not afraid of turning around (alone if neccessary), and as John Maxwell puts it,”Will climb the highest tree to look around and yell, ‘We are headed in the wrong direction’ “.

T. H. M.

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Spelling Lesson

Pipsqueak: What is the plural of cyclops?

Headmaster: Is that with one i or two?

(The correct answer is cyclopes, which then makes it a three syllable word. No, the DHM did not know that. She had to Look It Up.)

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The Chronicles of Narnia

So, Andrew Adamson is making a new Chronicles of Narnia movie. I’ve forgotten when LWW (for the uninitiated, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe- DHM) is due to come out, sometime in 2006, maybe?

Hopefully, they won’t mess it up as much as Peter Jackson messed up LOTR, but watching the videos they have on their site it seems that they have emphasized the witchiness, goblins, and ogres, etc. 🙁 They even have something called an ankle slicer. (Eeeew- DHM)

I read LWW today (yes, all of it today)*, and I don’t remember such a thing as an ankle slicer. Do correct me if I’m wrong, though, because I sometimes read so fast that I skip words, although I really think that an ankle slicer does not seem like something Lewis would have in his books.

The unicorn was really pretty, and so were the wolves running through the snowy forest.

HeadGirl *says*, although I do not believe her, that the reason they are emphasizing (or seeming to, anyway, on their site) the trolls, cyclopes, and goblins, is because they KNOW they have people like us interested, so they are trying to get other sorts of people interested. Yeah, right.

I think Weta (they’re the people doing the special effects, if you did not know) just really likes making the creepy, bad guy people, because a lot of the goblins, ghosts, and goulies looked like the Orcs in LOTR. (Lord of the Rings= LOTR, and this would be because Weta is the same company who did the special effects for LOTR. Yes, we are geeks about this. DHM)

*yawn* Well, now I go off to bed. ‘Night.

*Aha! This answers a certain question the DHM had about chores. Family blogging is fun, but perhaps has some ticklish moments.- DHM

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The Frazzled Final Weeks

Last night I threw away a map I was supposed to turn in this morning.

Somebody make it the end of semester already, please.

Thank you.

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