Meet Neptune, the latest member of my family. We adopted 7-month old Neptune (named after the god of the sea, of course) on Saturday. He is an adorable, smart, push-the-limits and rambunctious bundle of love, not much different from the average 4-year old (which is roughly his age in people years). But, just like any young child, Neptune needs to learn about his surroundings and how to behave safely and appropriately. We seem to instinctively understand that dogs need training, but we sometimes forget that our children need the same kind of training.
‘Off!’ for my new counter-surfer is no different from ‘Hot!’ for a toddler’s wandering hands near the stove.
‘Out?’ for the dog equals ‘do you need to go potty?’ for the younger child.
So why do we train our dogs and our children? To keep them safe. To set boundaries and teach behavior that will make them acceptable adults. Because we love them and more than anything we want them to feel loved, secure, accepted, safe. Which brings me to water.
Just as I’m teaching Neptune the acceptable places to drink water I may have to restrain his natural golden retriever instincts to dive into any available body of water. The retention pond at the end of the street after a heavy storm? Very tempting but not a good idea - those drains can be sucking water out at a tremendous rate. Lake Michigan? Only where the signs and the lifeguards say it’s safe to swim, those rip tides can be scary. A fast-moving stream? It may look shallow but easy for a small one to get swept away. Storm drain? Never, never, never - the thought of anyone being sucked into the sewer is terrifying, and it happens too often.
But when we find safe places to play in the water, my son and Neptune will have hours of memorable fun splashing and playing fetch together - the stuff that makes the best childhood memories.
Your child needs to understand which water is safe and when to be cautious of the water. Surely you’d want to teach your children as well as you teach your dog.