Friday, May 29, 2009

In the Land of Children/Family Tree

Down by my house, I am fortunate in that we don't have too many young kids around.  It's not that I completely dislike them - but I'll be honest, I bet both Marge and I would get sick of their innocent antics in a hurry. 

To the right of my house is a big field with several sports areas in it (soccer, football, baseball, etc).  However, most of the time the field is deserted and we can walk as we please.  When children are there, they generally aren't along the perimeter, which is where we walk.

The houses immediately surrounding us don't have young children, either.  In fact, we have a lot of elderly neighbors, a few of which Marge has grown to like.

Down the block, however - and on some of the blocks we walk - there are literally herds of kids.  We do our best to avoid them, walking when they're in school or asleep, but sometimes, it is inevitable.

Today, we were walking in Miller Field, but a man had an offleash dog that I know is not all that friendly.  Deciding this was a bad situation, we walked down one of the neighboring blocks instead.
We walked about one-third of the way, until I realized many of the neighborhood kids were out.  We could have just stayed to one side of the street, but I didn't feel like dealing with "HII! CAN WE PET HER?!" or the potential threat of any of them running across the street to hug my dog against her will.  

So, we turned around.. which paid off, because Marge briefly said hello to Jack.  He's a big goofy Chocolate Lab much too bouncy and rough for offleash play with her, but perfectly suitable for behind-fence greetings.  We do this often; Jack pays little attention to Marge because he's excited to see me and get scritches, and Marge simultaneously reaches and sniffs his rear-end.  Works out well.  He, along with Buddy, are the only dogs we've been seeing at all lately outside of training classes (though, these Jack-in-a-fence days don't nearly stack up to the experiences that she has with the aforementioned Spaniel).

Aaanyway, we were heading home, and a bus stop pulls up behind us.  Out come some kids, and, sure enough, a girl comes barreling down the block toward us.  Thinking that an encounter-from-behind would be the worst way to experience what seemed like an inevitable thing, I pulled Marge over to the side and had her sit.  Sure enough, the girl comes up to us:

"Awwww, your dog is so cute!"

I stepped in front of Marge and politely told her that she is afraid of people and to not pet her.  Chatty as kids are, she starts telling me about how her own dog does not like bigger dogs.  She continued walking on next to me for about 20 or 30 feet - Marge at heel on my left, the girl on my right.  I told her she could give Marge a treat, which she did - and, of course, in typical kid fashion, snuck a pat on the head - and then was off.

I was very proud of Marge for her poise during that situation.  She generally likes kids - QUIET, RESPECTFUL KIDS - but this one was running up to her and I didn't take any chances.  Besides, we're trying to minimize as many walk encounters as possible, so at least the girl walked on with us for a bit before she actually interacted with Marge.  It was an iffy situation that turned out well.

Later on, I had to go drop something off to someone (someone who I knew would not scare Marge and/or bother with her) so I took Marge along for the walk.  Lo and behold, there's a swarm of children that I encounter on my way.  They were across the street from me, but bellowed across:

"AWWW, Your dog is so cute!  It looks like Misty!  Guys, let's run across and.."

"NO.  My dog does not want to be petted."

And we were off.  Sigh.  I know it's not the kids' fault, but my goodness, kids are so brazen!  Many children would run up to a dog they don't know without asking a parent and the dog's owner.  Parents really need to teach their children manners around strange dogs - not to mention, supervise their children when they're out playing in the street!


In keeping with the theme here of "offspring," I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of Marge's family tree.

I am lucky to have this picture of her mom, Nelly, who is currently living way down in Georgia.  She is a supposed Beagle/Terrier mix - a tiny little dog!

Also of note are her two siblings, Lisa and Bart (yes, the litter had a Simpson's theme), who I believe are somewhere in New Jersey:

Then there are Homer and Midnight, currently living somewhere on Staten Island together (not the best pics, they were taken at the shelter):

And last, her brother Fergus, pictured here with Marge back when we met up last October.

There is supposedly one more sibling out there, but we don't know who he is.  I think he's living in Georgia, too. 

Anyone have any guesses on the father's breed?  It's like a Doggy Paternity Mystery!

...Have a good weekend everyone!


Anonymous May 30, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

Oh wow! Kudos to Marge, and to you!

I'm glad I found someone who shares the equal uneasiness kids can bring with them.

I believe that as more generations pass, the less parenting parents actually do! Kids are so quick now-a-days to approach a stranger and their dog without blinking an eye!

When I was a little girl, I would have been reamed for attempting to do such a thing, then lectured for hours about dangerous that is...

Anyway, I'm glad Marge handled the situation like Joe-Cool... ; ) I wish you were here with me in Georgia so your strong-voice and will to speak up would rub off on me! : P

Sue May 30, 2009 at 12:47 PM  

My dog Libby hated kids, having been tortured by one when she was little. I was always on alert when we were out in public trying to keep kids from reaching for her. I had to tell them she wasn't friendly, which wasn't really true, and still they would try to touch her.

My paternity guess is a Lab Mix.

NCmountainwoman May 30, 2009 at 2:01 PM  

I don't think you should wait too long to introduce Marge to children. Obviously not the hyper ones, but some quieter children who will also follow what you tell them about approaching. Perhaps some of your fellow classmates bring their children to class. That might be a good place to start.

I would be afraid that if you don't introduce her to children she will sense that there is something "wrong" with them and it might make her fearful or even aggressive with them.

Rufus and Indie May 30, 2009 at 7:36 PM  

Your work with Marge is great! I agree with you: kids should learn how to behave around dogs, it's very important!
Rufus and Indie

Sam May 31, 2009 at 2:56 AM  

Thank you all :)

NCMountainwoman: It's not that I don't let Marge socialize with children as a whole. It's just the ones in my neighborhood as loud, forward, unsupervised, and in large groups. That's just too much for her right now, so for everyone's sake we steer clear.

Whenever we used to go to Petsmart (speaking of which, I'd love to get her back there on a not-so-busy day) Marge readily accepted treats from gentle children. She also has been a hit with some kids at the beach, too. Funny you mention class - she made best buddies with two kids two weeks ago at Rally. :) As long as the child is respectful and a parent is present, we have had great successes with children over our journeys.

Paws on the Run June 1, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

I'm with you on the kid thing. Lacey is leary of lots of people, and definitely of kids. As a kid, I know I couldn't resist petting every dog I saw... but it sure drives me crazy as an adult with a timid dog!

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