A Baby and His Dog

yap yap yapQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My children are separated in age by ten years. I thought it would be a great idea to get my five year old a small dog for a gift. My husband is adamantly opposed to this idea, but he isn’t offering any form of compromise. He says he is allergic, but we already have one dog (a gift to my older daughter) and has had no allergic reaction. I grew up with pets and I think it is a wonderful way to teach your children to share. What do you think?


A Dear Doggone:

Sounds like your husband is allergic to the idea of having another dog running around the house. Is your five year old really ready to care for a puppy, or will daddy have to “help” with the housebreaking? Here’s something to contemplate before you head to the animal shelter. It’s from Emily Post’s less-famous Children are People.

1940: A Baby and His Dog

So let us say on Christmas or Easter or his birthday morning that Johnny hears a treble yap ~ yap ~ yap, and bubbling over with curiosity, runs to see! Out in the kitchen or in the hall on a bed of straw in the bottom of a box, he finds a puppy, which stops its yapping and begins to wriggle and bounce with delight at Johnny’s approach. Certainly it is his to name, to own, to pet and to play with, but not to squeeze too hard, not to hold upside down, not to feed with the wrong food, not to stuff at one time and to forget its food or its always fresh drink at another. Moreover, it is his to housebreak ~ with help perhaps from Dad or Mother ~ but reallyhis own to train with love, and with patience that knows no end. . . .

Recall to mind Albert Payson Terhune’s broadcasts, made each year before Christmas, in which he says plainly that none of Sunnybrook’s Collie puppies are for sale. . . . Mr. Terhune never parts with a puppy or dog unless he knows for certain that there is a dog lover in the family who is competent to give help to the child in caring for his pet. Someone who will teach the child that a dog is not a toy, but a friend, who for the greater part of all the happiness he shall know, will be dependent upon his master and protector. 

Source: Post, Emily. Children are People, and Ideal Parents are Comrades. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1940.
~ pp. 68-69 ~