The other day, LTD woke up from his nap and announced that he wanted to go for a walk. Now that the little guy is three I figured we could also take the dog along so she could do her business. On days when I stay home with LTD I usually walk the dog alone in the evening after The Mommy comes home. However, it was nice out and I had the wonderpup in the Instant Trainer Leash. Normally, the wonderpup is pretty good puller on walks and she crosses over tripping me up. For these reasons and more I don’t take LTD with me on dog walks. The Instant Trainer uses moderate but solid resistance to discourage the dog from pulling. The leash just clips on to the collar and then goes around her back side. The Instant Trainer takes a little practice as the leash comes up the dog’s mid section as oppose to traditional leashes that pull from the collar. The wonderpup started walking backwards when the leash wasn’t high enough up her back, but with a little work we got it “straightened” out. Of course since I would never use a leash on the boy our walk wasn’t as easy as I hoped.
As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know the only books we currently can give LTD are board books due to the fact that he becomes the god of destruction when exposed to paper. The Grandparents gave the little a whole bunch of Bright and Early Board Books for the holidays and they have quickly become family favorites because they are fun and short. 1973’s classic I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words by Michael Frith has been condensed down to the aptly titled I’ll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words for the small board book. The plot is basic, lacking a true narrative structure rather the titular Dog is taught a whole bunch of words. Of course the basic dog tricks are learned first, but then the ‘master’ teaches the dog to reach for the stars when he teaches him to: Shine my shoe, kiss a goose and clean the zoo.
One of the books highlights is the illustrations by legend and Dr. Seuss protégé P.D. Eastman of ‘Are You My Mother’ and ‘Go, Dog. Go!’ fame. His art is simple, charming and expressive. Nobody draws a better dog. While the story may be unrealistic and lead to a many disappointed kids who may try, in vain, to teach their dogs to paint I’ll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words works great with young toddlers who have no interest in dog obedience.
Many of LTD’s new behaviors resort in me getting paper towels and cleaning supplies out of the closet. However, recently he has developed one that is truly heart melting in its cuteness. Every time he finds his super soft blanket he rubs it against his cheek. Every time he finds a super soft stuffed animal he rubs it against his cheek. And occasionally when he is eating a super soft food like a blueberry or puff he rubs it against his cheek. I challenge anyone on Earth to watch this performance and not think it is the most adorable thing they have ever seen.
It should also be noted that when the little guy rubs part of his super soft blanket on his face he turns his mouth into a huge grin and emits a slight cooing sound straight out of central casting. Lately, he has been branching out and experimenting with different items he can rub against his cheek. I thought food was a bold choice, but then he trumped all previous rub protocols by using the dog’s tail. It was touch and go for a second as to the dog’s reaction, but he managed to complete the transaction without actually pulling on the tail so it all worked out. I feel like I want to bring him to Hollywood and stick him at The Ivy or the Château Marmont and give him a super soft blanket so he can catch the eye of a famous casting director.
I know what you’re thinking, I have never heard of the book Benjy’s Dog House. Well, the good news is now you have. The book matters because not only does the dog in the story share my namesake, but also it was published in the year of my birth, 1973. Author, illustrated and Canadian Margaret Bloy Graham first achieved fame by illustrating Harry the Dirty Dog written by her then husband Gene Zion. While a book of the seventies the style is clearly older and has a very fifties vibe.
The plot follows Benjy the dog and his new dog house. His family feels he is too grown up to sleep in their beds with them, so they decide to give a brand new doghouse outside. Why the father thinks it’s a good idea to convert an old apple barrel into a doghouse, I have no idea, but Benjy is no fool and he hates it. This being a children’s book, Benjy of course takes off the first night he is suppose to sleep in the barrel and has a series of adventures. In the end of course, I think we all know what happens and where Benjy will continue to sleep.
Dog Week concludes with a review of one story from Rosemary Wells dog series starring a Westie called McDuff. McDuff and the Baby tells a tale very familiar to our household. In fact, our pooch, LZ, often begs us to read it to her and LTD. The central theme of the story is that little McDuff was the star of the house, getting special treatment and all the attention, but experienced a tiny bit of benign neglect once his owners, Lucy and Fred brought home the new baby. After feeling ignored McDuff stages a brief hunger strike that results in Lucy and Fred feeling bad. Lucy and Fred decide to spend some special time with McDuff and everyone is happy again. The only warning I will give is that if you have a dog and read this book, you will end up at the dog park soon after.
With Dog Week nearing an end, I would be remiss if I didn’t really re-enforce the fact that our dog, LZ, loves food. Most of the time this craving is a pain in the butt when The Mommy and I want to have a meal at home or a heaven forbid a party. For years the rallying cry has been LZ off. However, with the baby eating food under his own power the dog’s addiction has been our ticket to avoiding the vacuum or broom. Now when the baby drops (or more accurately throws) food on the floor instead of yelling LZ off we get to say LZ come. With the exception of avocados and raisins, the dog is our little baby clean up machine. As I have mentioned before, too bad the pooch can’t also clean the baby’s face after each meal, but I am told the practice is considered “mal vu.”
Dog Week continues with a product that kills two birds with one stone. Since our dog, LZ was our practice baby we had to take steps early on to keep her out of her favorite place in the house, the kitchen. Her lust for all things food (and lets face it things that used to be food, but are now wicked gross) forced us to install a gate to keep her away from the kitchen. We have been using the Dream Baby Tall Gate for many years now and when the baby arrived we were psyched that there was one baby product we didn’t need to buy.
Since we have the tall gate, the dog can’t jump over it into the kitchen, something she would surely do if we had a smaller gate. I won’t lie and say that I have never knocked into the gate and really hurt myself, but thankfully those incidents are few and far between. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and occasionally I will turn around to see the dog in the kitchen, which makes me angry, but proud that she is so fast. Now that LTD follows us wherever we go, the gate provides him with cheap entertainment as he stands at the gate making it clack and clang. The only drawback to the tall gate is that when come out of the kitchen with two hot plates I can’t step over and have to get creative to open the gateway.
Dog Week continues with an exposé into why the dog always makes the baby laugh. I could see if the dog was juggling or doing magic it might make a baby laugh, but we are talking about two things happening, the dog walking past LTD and LTD laughing. For some reason it mainly happens when I’m carrying the baby down the stairs and the dog is following behind. The little guy will crane his neck to look at the dog and start laughing. He then sticks his hand out towards the dog and then laughs some more. I guess we could assume that to him the dog seems like a living stuffed animal, which for a baby must seem pretty cool. However, I predict in the future he won’t be laughing so much when I make him walk the dog and pick up her dirty business. Sadly, those days are a few years off and so today it is a heavy head that wears the crown.
Today marks the launch of Beyond the Car Seat’s Dog Week. Our pooch, LZ, is a six year old Australian Kelpie that we picked up at the North Shore Animal League almost four years ago. Since she survived her time with us as our practice baby we figured we could handle the real thing. LZ had a little bit of learning curve during the first year living with the baby, but now things between the two of them have reached a Détente. LZ has been very patient with LTD when he grabs her tail or pulls her ears and we have been very patient with LZ when she licks his face.
In fact, the little guy has already learned one thing from the dog, how to eat. LZ doesn’t much need to be petted and she doesn’t really crave the dog park, the only thing that stirs great passion in her is food. Naturally, one would assume that if the dog loves food so much she would savor it and take her time to enjoy it. Of course with the dog the exact opposite occurs. She hovers her food so fast that if you blink you will miss it. After careful scientific observation of the canine, LTD has learned to employ the dog’s speed when eating. He will shove handfuls of rice in his mouth regardless of how much rice is already in his gaping maw. When spooning yogurt into his chops, heaven forbid, you take the time to put another scoop in the container because this will result in a baby scream that loosely translate to ‘more.’ Now if only I was allowed to let the dog lick him clean like she does the yogurt cup.
Back in the day whenever I heard someone refer to their father as ‘my old man’ I used to cringe. I thought it was rude and tacky. While I still think those things about calling a dad an ‘old man’ I certainly feel like it sometimes. Now that LTD is rolling on the floor everywhere in his quest to crawl, I find myself spending a lot of time down there with him keeping him safe from harm and me safe from being comfortable. I don’t have to spend a lot of time on the floor to start getting a nice neck and backache. The worst part is when, like the other day, I watched LTD fold himself in half then roll out of it into a stretch in order to get a toy; meanwhile when I got up off the floor after to get him from putting said toy in the dog crate I heard many body parts make a loud popping sound.
Another indignity I suffer while on the floor is perpetrated by what is suppose to be man’s best friend. Every time I get on floor the dog senses my proximity to ground level and appears from out of no where to attack my face with her tongue. I know what you’re thinking, and yes she tries to lick the baby’s face as well but I fall on my sword and take one for the team. I can’t imagine how banged up I’m going to get once the little guy starts walking.