1977 – Conversation On A Day trip To Skegness
There is a wide-spread belief in the dog world that dogs are good for children. All sorts of advantages are claimed, and many of them are probably perfectly sound. For example, it is said that living with dogs prevents children growing up afraid of dogs, that they learn to respect animals, and that, if you breed a litter, it is a useful way of introducing young children to the facts of life in a natural, inoffensive and straightforward way.
Of course, there are also disadvantages. They may arise when the parents do not appreciate that by living with dogs all the time, a child has, totally unbeknown to them, make assumptions which are incorrect. Potentially the most serious of these is the assumption that because the dogs in the household are approachable, a child can fling its arms around any dog it sees in the street, and pooch will react in the same way as the dogs at home. In a sense, therefore, the parents of doggy children need to be continually on their guard for signs that their children are misinforming themselves because of the things they see in their doggy homes.
During the summer of this year, we came across an example of how Briony had taken one of her experiences at home and was, as a result, on the point of coming to a totally false conclusion.
One day during that summer, we decided to go for a day out in Skegness, which was a drive of about an hour and a half. Briony had earlier that year for the first time witnessed the birth of some puppies- Flappa’s-, but she had taken it surprisingly in her stride and we didn’t really expect her to say anything more about it. However, it was, for a three year old, a very long journey and even the stop to have some orange juice and sandwiches in the garden of a pub, didn’t sufficiently break up the journey for her. I suppose, therefore, that she decided she would think of something to talk about. It wasn’t a long conversation.
Briony: “I saw Flappa’s puppies being born”
Me: “Yes, you did, didn’t you”
Briony: “Is Flappa older than me?”
Me: “Yes, she is”
Briony: “Did you see Flappa being born?”
Me: “Yes, I did”
(Any sane father would have let the conversation drop there, but I decided to brag)
Me: “I saw you being born as well”
Briony: “You mean when I came out of Mummy’s tummy?”
Me: (Feeling the water getting deep) “Er, yes, that’s right”
Briony: “When I was born, were you in a cardboard box?”