Archive for May, 2008


As the kids and I walked along a path in the woods this morning, we passed quite a large dog being walked by quite a large man. I try to keep my kids from touching strange dogs they encounter in the woods (which, now that I think about, never actually works), but the thrill of seeing this giant animal overwhelmed the two-year-old (as it always does), and he raced toward it. “Say hello, but we won’t touch him, Chris…” I say, only to be drowned out by the dog-walker: “No, no, he’s really friendly. He won’t hurt him; he’s great with little kids,” and more insistently as I hold Chris’s hand, “Seriously, he’s really friendly!” Which begs the question: How I do I really know you are friendly, let alone your dog, Mr. Stranger in the Woods?

While I was nearly 100% certain that none of us were going to attack each other, and the man and his dog certainly seemed as nice as they could be, I don’t tend to hand over decisions about the safety of my kids to nice guys in the woods. And, to be fair, while he could also be reasonably sure that we would attack neither him nor his dog, he shouldn’t necessarily trust that I could keep my toddler from grabbing his dog’s tail or poking him in the eye–even if he’s never done it before . . . and even if it were meant with love. It’s a toddler’s nature–like a dog’s–to be somewhat unpredictable.

So, I propose this: Next time, let’s all just say hello, and maybe trade some inane, friendly comments about the weather and how the rain finally stopped and how beautiful the dog is and how cute the kids are, and then, without any of us touching each other, licking each other, grabbing anyone’s fur, or slurping on anybody’s face, just move on by with a friendly wave.


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