Thursday, April 4, 2013

A boy and his dog.

I was going to tell you about Alex's IEP meeting today, but I decided to whittle down my 20 pages of notes before I even attempt to put it online, so instead, I will tell you about the dog.

The dog has a name but we don't like to use it. Instead, we renamed him "Dog" because that's a name we all can use. Remember last year at the playground I was jumping for joy because my boy spontaneously used a word appropriately to get what he wanted? Yeah, I barely remember it too. Well, I remember the moment clear as if it happened yesterday but I have no clue in which of my couple-hundred-dozen-thousands of rambling, off topic posts it could be in so I'll just retell the story as I remember it.

It was a bright sunny day with clear blue skies. The time must have been close to evening because the day was cooling and the playground was overrun with miniature humans, big humans, and 2 furry non-humans on leashes.

Alex's close-up experience with dogs started in his second classroom of last year. The first day in his new class, I walked into the classroom with Alex and glanced around as I talked to both his old and new teachers when my glance froze on a blond, shaggy, gangly, horse like creature. I was already a bit uncomfortable with the fact that Alex was the only ambulatory kid in the class considering his refusal to watch where he walks when kids are crawling around on the floor and his habit of climbing in anyone's lap- peers included- any time he saw them sitting in a chair. but then I saw this ... thing in his classroom and I had to speak up. "um, a dog? really? you really think that's a good idea?" and I'm thinking, oh, Lord, this is not a good idea. not at all. but the new teacher in her we got this, you just relax way tells me oh, it will be fine. mhmm. right.

So, here we are at the playground on this beautiful day and we see these two attached to a human and Alex's eyes are fixed. He wants that. he heads in that direction, I try to re-direct. redirection is not even happening because he wants them. and then it happens... "Dog." open-mouthed-shock. and, of course. because what parent can deny that request? He let me help him hand over hand to let the dog smell him. He let me help him hand over hand to pet the dog in appropriate place. He did not poke their eyes or pull their ears. He giggled and petted and once he did what he came to do, was ready to go back and play.

His time in that classroom changed a lot of things with Alex. He watches babies and doesn't walk on them, he doesn't knock the smaller kids over running over top of them, and he loves dogs.

Thing1 just recently got a dog. a beautiful thing with a bad reputation for his entire breed. When he brought the dog visiting, Alex wanted to see him. I, being the fearful, paranoid mother that I am, did not think this was a good idea but, if he cares enough about dogs to ask for them by "name"... so I sat in the floor with Alex between my legs and the dog in front of us. I reached out hand over hand and let the dog smell him. I helped him hand over hand to pet the dog and Alex giggled, accidentally blowing air into the dog's face. As soon as he did it, the dog's ears perked up and he got a look in his eye...I drag Alex into a backward roll to get away from the dog. The dog, I swear it's true, looked at me like I was stupid. Big D and Thing1 were telling me I was overreacting, the dog wouldn't have done anything and I'm like, "Do you know what kind of dog that is!? They can be dangerous!" and they're all pfft. not this one. mhmm. I'm sure.

Well, Thing1, living in an apartment, soon found that the dog wasn't really happy there and started looking for a home. Big D thinks this is a great time to get the dog he's been wanting. I'm still wary. Cats, kids, bad reputation. oh, Lord, this is not a good idea. not at all. but...

I read a few articles on the American Pit's temperament and such, I talked to my brother, I thought of all of my many family members that love the breed and what their dogs are like, how the dogs are with their kids, and I took a little time to get to know him. He's still here on a trial basis and there are still concerns and worries but he seems to be perfect for my boys. He loves to run, he loves to play and roughhouse. Even so, he is with me 24/7. He is not around the kids unless I am right there on him, he's not allowed in rooms I can't see him in and he sleeps beside my bed with the bedroom door closed. He's a good dog who is eager to please and follows directions without hesitation as long as he is focused....but I can't shake those few reservations. I want to make sure he knows the rules before just letting him have the run of the house.

He's still having trouble playing with Alex outside, they run into each other and the dog likes to grab flailing arms and quick moving feet while running- that's not cool. We're working on what is ok to be in his mouth and people and kids' toys are not ok.  He's stopped jumping on people and has learned that he has to be under the table while they eat, not up in their plates. The boys have learned the need to be firm in their simple directions and how to freeze and most definitely not scream when the dog runs to tackle them.

The downside of him always being with me is he always has to be with me. I can't go outside without him, I can't come inside without him. I have to go outside first and he follows, I have to let him know when I'm coming in and he follows, I had to take him in the bathroom so I could take a bath, seriously, the damned thing has to be in the bathroom while I pee. I have to go to bed before he does and I just had to move his bed from under the table to right beside me so he could lay down and let me write. I'm starting to wonder who's the boss in this relationship. I'm the leader because he demands me to be the leader so... who's leading who? The only time he's not following me around is when he's following Alex.

Inside the house, he's great. So calm and sweet, no playing or roughing around. He likes to be around Alex and Alex likes to be with him. The dog seems to pick up on the little things with Alex. Always watching, always ready to be right there.  The dog seems to be content to sit back and wait for Alex to acknowledge him. Touching is still hand over hand but they're great together. Alex's touch can be a little rough sometimes and this dog, this breed, is the right one for that. This dog seems to like the harder petting where a smaller dog would be more sensitive. And, for Alex, when the dog lays on him or leans heavily against him or does the rough and tumble, Alex loves it where the other kids are a little more sensitive and avoid the rough and tumble play.

Alex seems to be a whole different kid when he's around the dog. He likes to be affectionate, he never fails to notice the dog's in the room, he's considerate of the dog's feelings and actually seems concerned with meeting the dog's needs. He seems to connect with the dog in a way he doesn't with his brothers. That, for me, is amazing.

But... the cats are still pissed.


  1. Pits are actually great dogs for households with children when the dog is TRAINED PROPERLY. Which yours seems it very much is.

    My city nor apt. complex will allow them, but I once had my eye on a rescue American Stratfordshire Terrier for weeks.

    1. Thank you so much! I've heard that they're great with kids and I've heard the "properly trained" warning but I'm just starting to find out what properly trained is.

  2. My cats wouldn't allow dogs in our house, but my friend has 3 dog - a lab, a retriever, and a pit bull mix, and a diva cat who rules over and rough houses with the dogs. The cat is not afraid of them at all, including the pit bull.

    1. Thank you, Kristy! I've heard success stories but I keep thinking about Jim's poodle :/