Snapshot Stories: Puppy Tales!

It is unprecedented for me to post on one – never mind both – days of the weekend, but when I saw The Daily Post’s prompt for today I couldn’t resist:

Open the first photo album you can find – real or virtual, your call – and stop at the first picture of yourself that you see there. Tell us the story of that picture.

Most of my photos are on my computer, so I opened the folder and picked a completely random spot to stop. The first picture of myself that I came across was this one, which I combined together with another because it’s better if you can see all three dogs:

These photos were taken several years ago when my hubby and I were visiting a friend who lives in another province. At the time that friend was living in the basement of his friends, and those friends are great animal lovers. Aside from a few reptiles – and was there a huge spider? I think there may have been a huge spider… – they had these three dogs. I can’t remember their names now, but the little fella is a mini-pinscher who also happened to be the runt of his litter, the brown one with the pink collar was a mutt of some kind, and the horse, er, big fella was a boxer-rottweiler mix, if I’m remembering correctly. When I first saw the big guy it was because someone had opened the basement stairs and he came barreling down to see who the strangers he was smelling were. I very nearly had a heart attack. Believe me, this picture does not do him justice. The friend we were visiting is about 6’2″, and when this beast of a dog stood on his hind legs he was almost looking the friend right in the eyes. Luckily he was about the gentlest thing you’ve ever seen. He would even chase the mini-pinscher, literally scoop it up in his mouth, then spit it out and go chasing again.

But the best part of these three dogs was the tricks. Each of them had their own. The little one, when told to “Go crazy” would bounce around in circles and do little flips. The medium-sized one would leap into your arms if you patted your chest (they didn’t warn me about that one and I almost dropped the poor thing). The big fella would “fight”, which is to say that if you lifted your fists and asked him “Wanna fight?” he’d jump up on his hind legs and bat his pays at you like he was boxing.

The three of them were extremely cute, friendly, and funny, and it made my day when I managed to get all three sitting with me at the same time. 🙂

It May Not Be the End of the World…But it Can Feel Like It

When I was very young, I had a toy called “Puppy Surprise”. For those who are too young to remember (or too old to care), this was a stuffed “mama” dog with little beanbag puppies in her tummy. The surprise part was in how many puppies you got, since it could be anywhere between two and five. I was one of the lucky kids who ended up with five puppies, and I was ecstatic. I loved those puppies, gave them all names, and played with them constantly.

Then one day one of the puppies went missing. I searched high and low but I couldn’t find it. I was certain it had gotten left at my neighbor’s house, but they were unable to find it either. For all I knew, that puppy was gone forever.

That night, I recall, my mother was working a backshift and I’d asked my father if I could sleep in their bed with him. And at some point during the night, as I was laying in bed unable to sleep, I thought about that lost puppy. I started crying. I tried to hold it in, but my shoulders shook and a little gasp or two escaped. Before I knew it I’d accidentally woken my father, who asked me what was wrong. I told him, and though I don’t remember exactly what it was he said, I do recall that it more or less amounted to what any parent in the same situation would say: “It’s just a toy; it’s not the end of the world.”

It’s not the end of the world. These are words that have probably been spoken by every parent on the planet at one time or another. They are words that can be very true…but also very, very wrong.

See, the problem with becoming an adult is that we tend to completely forget what it feels like to be a child. My father’s response was a completely reasonable one from the viewpoint of an adult, but not from the viewpoint of a child. At the time of this story I was about six or seven years old, and at that age losing one of your favorite toys is the end of the world.

We change dramatically as we grow, and bit by bit we begin to learn about what is and isn’t really important in life. Children haven’t gained that knowledge yet. A toddler doesn’t understand why they can’t have cookies for breakfast because they have no understanding of the concept of “health”. All they know is that you are refusing to give them something they want very badly. A child who is being teased at school can not grasp the idea that someday the opinions of their peers will mean little to nothing. They only know that the teasing hurts their feelings and maybe even makes them depressed. Even as teenagers we still haven’t grown enough emotionally to avoid these traps. Have you ever been around a teenager who just got dumped? It’s pitiful. Beyond pitiful. But you can’t explain to them that it’s “not the end of the world” because to them it is. Yes, as adults we know that the pain of a dumped teenager is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but to that teenager it is the worst pain they have ever felt.

So try to remember that the next time you’re dealing with a toddler who won’t stop crying, a child who is scared and upset, or a teen who believes their whole world has just come to an abrupt end. Remember that they don’t understand that it’s not the end of the world because that’s exactly what it feels like to them. All pain, physical or emotional, is relative, and the younger the child the less they have to compare to.

Most of all, remember what it feels like to be a kid. I promise you’ll be a better parent – and person – for it.