I peep from between my fingers at the email again. It has been brought to my attention that you had some underage children at the dog running yard last Sunday. I rub my hands on my forehead guessing which volunteer at our animal shelter might have reported me and keep reading. This is a serious violation of our policy. I know you have the best interest of the dogs in your heart but I’m sure you understand that we have insurance and liability issues in case… blah- blah -blah.
Two days earlier I was at my friends for dinner when she’d asked me if it was okay to bring her kids to the shelter.
“This would be their first encounter with dogs.” She dropped some veggies in the stir fry pan. “They love dogs but I can’t have one in my house because…” I’d stopped listening because she couldn’t have listed a reason I hadn’t heard before.
I laid out the dishes. “I’m sure someone at the shelter will get their panties in a bunch, but I think your kids should come and interact with the dogs.” Like most people she had thought about it several times but this was the first time she was entertaining the idea with any level of seriousness.
The next morning I’d just started taking the dogs out to their play yards when I got her text. ‘We’re here. My kids are very sensitive, be gentle with them’.
I kept reading sensitive but my mind kept translating it to ‘sissies’. I stepped out to find a nine year old girl clinging to her mother’s arm and a six year old boy running around in the parking lot, ignoring his mom’s instructions.
I shook the girl’s limp hand. “Are you guys ready to meet the dogs?”
The boy ran straight up to me. “Puppies.”
I grabbed him by the waist and flipped him upside down. “Yes puppies too, big guy.”
Over the next few hours they continued to play with every dog I brought out. I explained to them why some were shy and scared because they had been abused. Why some were slow because they were old and why puppies nipped at them because they were teething. They took it all in. They were happy, excited, tired and finally bored.
When they walked out with their mother I knew a spark had been lit in their little hearts. They didn’t have two or ten or thirty dog friends, they had befriended a new species. The world of animal activism had two little warriors added to their team.
That’s the sort of future we people in rescue hang our hats on. Once again it was me who failed to recognize a child’s strength and endurance and labelled it wrongly as “sissyish” owing to my preconceived notions.
Kids- 1, Inder -0