Why Children Love Dogs - Large Dogs Most Suitable for Small Children - The Child and His Dog-how He Should Treat It - The Amiability of the Bulldog - The Airedale as a Child's Companion-small Terriers and Toys - The Grave of the Greyhound and Its Legend - The Unconscious Influence of the Dog
The unthinking person, who also is the average person, falls into ecstasies over a child with a kitten. It is a pretty sight, but, like some other prettinesses, a soulless one. And, as soon as a child has any sense at all, he wisely recognises that his proper and natural companion is the dog, puppy or adult. The little boy of Mr. Kipling, who is the real human little boy, knew this when he said:
Pussy can sit by the fire and sing, Pussy can climb a tree, Or play with a silly old cork and string To 'muse herself, not me. But I like Binkie, my dog, because He knows how to behave; So, Binkie's the same as the First Friend was, And I am the Man in the
That is the conclusion of the whole matter, that Binkie knows how to behave, and that is why we can leave the most precious of babes in charge of the most ferocious looking of bulldogs and be at ease.
The most cherished of babies can be left with confidence in charge of the most ferocious-looking bulldog
Photos, Charles Reid, H'ishaw
The writer has never yet found the line which the bulldog draws as regards the handling he will endure from a child. It must be as imaginary as that of the equator, judging from the way a baby can hurt one of this breed with impunity, whereas a cat will usually show her sense of what is the limit of patience by a sharp and effectual pat.
Of course, as soon as a child is able to understand, he should be taught how to treat all animals, and any rough or cruel treatment of one should be punished severely. There is no more odious vice than cruelty, and it is less excusable. when deliberate, than almost any other, and shows a worse nature than we care to contemplate in a child.
Personally, the writer is in favour of a dog of a large breed being used as a very young child's companion. As a rule, such breeds are of a more placid disposition, are more imposing guardians, and inspire more respect in their young charges. As pups, it is not so easy for the child to handle them to their injury. With a small toy or the like, a puppy can be deformed seriously by being dragged about by a small child; its forepaws are wrenched and twisted, its neck pulled, until the unlucky creature grows into a caricature of what it should be.
From about the age of nine upwards, a child may be given a dog as his own pet, and encouraged to attend to it regularly and properly
When the child is older, from the age of eight or nine upwards, it is well to let him have a dog of his own, and unconsciously by its means teach him some of the greatest lessons of life. He should understand that he has a duty towards the dog quite as truly as towards his own race, if different in degree. If he wearies in his care, or shows signs of cruelty and tyranny, he should be deprived at once of his pet.
He should be obliged to feed it, and, as far as possible, groom and exercise it; when he is older, he should be taught how to train it. and supervised to see that he shows patience and discretion in so doing. If there is a children's class, as there is usually, at an accessible show, he should be allowed to enter; the preparation necessary beforehand will be excellent for him.
It is not needful to go further into details. Anyone can see what may not have struck them before, how great a part a dog may play in the education of a child, more so than any other pet, for he can respond in a higher measure to the care and love bestowed on him. A dog has countless times in man's history done more for his master than save him from fire, assassin, or thief; he has kept a heart tender which might have hardened, and preserved an ideal of truth and goodness that might have perished for lack of its vision in brother men.
To be practical, what is the best breed of dog to trust with a child?
The bulldog fancier will say the bulldog, and he has much reason to do so. Such a dog will never, as a rule, hurt the most tiresome child, yet will daunt any ill-intentioned adult. So honours easy to the bulldog. For those who may object to the bulldog, either as costly, short-lived, unprepossessing, or something else, there is the Airedale terrier. He is peculiarly fond of children, while for vigilance as a guard he cannot be excelled. He is large and powerful enough to be a protector, and is most easily trained to his duties. Withal, he is not a fighter for fighting's sake, as is his otherwise charming Irish brother.
The smart and useful little fox-terrier is usually good tempered with children, but, as is the case with the Scottie and most small terriers, it should be ascertained first whether the individual chosen is good with children. A puppy is usually the best choice, as he will grow accustomed to the child, whereas an older dog is often apt to resent liberties and sulk, if he does not bite.
Toy dogs are often too delicate to be suitable for children's pets, and in some breeds are not safe companions. The Pekingese, for instance, is usually averse to children, the Italian greyhound much too fragile, the Pomeranian excitable and headstrong, the Japanese too delicate, and the toy Yorkshire and Maltese require too much attention to their coats.
Spaniels, of the Cocker variety, are often devoted to children, but the average gun-dog is by nature the sportsman's dog, and apt to run wild in childish hands. Great Danes, bloodhounds, mastiffs, St. Bernards, and Newfoundlands are breeds that require careful choice, for, though benevolent in appearance, they are not all invariably to be trusted with small children, and their size renders disobedience a matter beyond a child's power to cope with successfully. But certain individuals are undoubtedly excellent guards and pets for the young, only they must be tested thoroughly first.
A Common Error
While discussing the question of the various breeds of dogs and their suitability as guardians or pets for children, the writer would like once more to combat that irritating popular fallacy which attributes peculiar merit as regards devotion and intelligence to the mongrel. It is certainly true that the law of the survival of the (physically) fittest operates more drastically in the case of mongrel puppies than among carefully reared pure bred stock; also that there are well-bred fools among canines as among humans. But that is all there is to it. A doggy gentleman or lady is a source of pride and satisfaction, and it is possible to (more or less) forecast his disposition and character. With the mongrel one has to take all on faith, pay as much for keep and licence, and, as a rule, derive little satisfaction from his appearance.
The old legends again and again ascribe a peculiar devotion to children to the noble race of hounds. We all have learned in nursery days of Gelert, who saved the son of Prince Llewellyn of Wales from the ravening wolf, only to be slain by the misguided father, who fancied the blood on the dog's jaws to be that of his babe. We may even have seen his tomb at Beddgelert, and smiled the superior smile we some of us keep for legendary tales. But the story is true, for all that, even if the names are incorrect. Not once nor twice, here or elsewhere, has the hound saved the child, from the majestic Barry of St. Bernard, with the half-dead mite clinging to his neck, or Landseer's Newfoundland saviour of drowning little ones, to the mongrel terrier who wakes an East End household at the scent of fire.
In our islands, at least, dog and child have formed an alliance so universal and so enduring that it is an accepted fact, as much as other facts of existence, and only becomes strange when we journey where such is not the case. Then we perhaps realise how fortunate we are in our difference, and remember the debt owed to a friend of the years when we were near to Nature's heart, and when the one who best understood us and sympathised with our half-savage delights and gambols was one who walked on four feet, and whose language was not ours, though ours was known to him.
The eve of the show, the final bath. Child en should be encouraged to do all that is necessary for their pets well-being. Preparation for the children's class at a dog-show serves to make them take a pride in the appearance of their dogs (Photos, Charles Reid)