When our son was born in the fall of 2007, my husband and I already had ‘baby number 1’, our 2 year old yellow lab. We knew that life changes were hard on pets so we committed ourselves to making this transition as smooth as possible for our dog.
Now, nearly two years later, the two are best friends and watching the relationship develop has been heart warming and at times has left us is awe. It has also shown us how impressionable infants and toddlers are!
From the time he could crawl our son’s favourite place to rest has been against our dog’s belly. Regardless of the time of day, the activity he is engaged in or who is present, our son will seek out his loyal companion. As if on command she will lay down enabling him to wiggle between her four legs and rest his back and head along her torso. Not once has our dog got up from this position before our son.
The two are almost inseparable, and as much as we know our dog is our pet we learned when our son was 15 months that he was observing and learning not only from us, but our dog as well.
When picking up toys or items that he wants our son picks up the first item, then bends down picks up a second in his mouth, and finally reaches for the third item with his free hand! Much like a dog, he collects sticks on our walks and we are constantly telling him that only dogs carry sticks in their mouths!
Despite the fact that my husband and I are both teachers and are aware of developmental benchmarks, watching our son emulate our dog’s actions has reinforced for us just how impressionable young children are. It has also made us aware that everyday events are opportunities for learning. As parents we need to capture these moments and use them to assist our children in their discovery of the world they live in.