Sunday, March 29, 2009


Long ago, when I first began writing newspaper columns about life on the farm, I was a new mother of an only child.

And while life seemed very much different back then, it seems that it was just as exasperating as it is now that the kid and critter count is much higher. In a spring cleaning of my hard drive, I ran across an old column that brought back a memory and made me smile:

My husband and I decided upon our marriage that we would like to raise our family in the country. We had both been raised that way, so our bias was strong toward that manner of upbringing. The benefits seemed clear; country kids have all of the great outdoors in which to play, they are taught responsibility at a young age, and rural schools are focused on individuals.

What we didn’t realize, of course, was that raising kids in the country also has a few drawbacks.

My two-year-old son thinks he’s a dog.

I’m not kidding.

Riley doesn’t get out much, so his playmates are rather limited. He has two cats, eight chickens, and a border collie/Australian shepherd mutt named Mitch.

The chickens aren’t real good company, so for awhile Riley befriended the cats. He drug them around by their tails, and in return he allowed them to groom him. He would come in from the yard with 25 cowlicks all over his head and a smile on his face.

The smile was partially due to the fact that he let the cat in with him, and he would chase it around saying, “No kitties in the house!”

He still associates with the cats from time to time, but his real fascination is with the dog. It began with the doghouse in the back yard.

Doghouses, of course, are just the perfect size for toddlers to hide in. Mitch was quite surprised to find a little boy in his doghouse one afternoon, but he didn’t let Riley bother him. He ate some food from the dish in the doghouse and went about his way.

Three seconds later, Riley was eating dog food from the dish in the doghouse.

He wasn’t just picking it up and eating it. He had his face in the dish.

I yelled. I screamed. I forced him inside. I did just about everything I could think of to keep him from eating the dog’s food, but it was to no avail. The only way to prevent it is to remove the dish, and that makes the dog mad.

Riley has also taken to eating like a dog when he’s at the table. He begs for food and won’t take it unless you feed it to him like you would feed scraps to the dog.

If I’m not watching, he drinks from the bowl of water we leave out for Mitch. He puts his face down and laps it up, just like his hero.

Yesterday I looked out the kitchen window only to see him sitting beside Mitch, scratching at his face like he had fleas. He probably does.

People tell me not to worry. Kids will be kids, and it’s just a stage.

That’s easy for them to say. We recently visited my dad’s house, and Riley was “helping” Grandpa wash up in the bathroom. Dad’s dog snuck in behind them and began lapping up water out of the toilet.

I’m sure that Riley stored that image in the back of his mind somewhere, so for now we’re carefully watching his bathroom behavior, and my gray hairs are multiplying daily.


Dawn said...

THIS is one of your best. It was a great Monday morning laugh!

Be blessed this week!

Kelly said...

Oh so funny...a great way to start the day!

Pony Girl said...

Oh that was really cute, great ending! ;)
I watched a documentary a few years ago about a neglected young child that was raised by dogs. Weird story really, but her behavior was learned and she did really walk and act like a dog!

Mark and Tj said...

chuckle, chuckle, chuckle.... How did things turn out?

Mama Bear said...

Oh dear!! LMAO - thanks for the giggle.

Bill Harshaw said...

I've a vague memory of trying some of the dog food we got from the local co-op, not bad if I recall. After all, canines and humans are omnivores. :-)

the reynolds said...

This is too funny - I had a daughter that kept eating the calf starter and another daughter who thought she was a horse! Depending on her mood, she would let out a knicker, or a shrill whinny, twirl and run away and jump over any obstacle in her path - and she was on all fours! People couldn't believe her *ahem* athletic abilities! She'd been known to give us a kick now and then too. Rest assured - my girl is 18 now and I think her jumping, kicking, whinnying days are over.....thank heavens she never developed the habit of biting! (she still loves horses though!)

And I hear dog food is made with number 1 grade A corn - just watch out for those by-products!

D said...

Loved this! My now 14-yr-old daughter thought she was a dog for a couple of years. She too ate (and drank) with the dog when I wasn't looking. We have the greatest photo of her and the dog stretched out on the back porch for a nap. Sometimes when her teenage behavior is getting to me, I just think about the "dog years" and smile!

Robin said...

What a delightful post thank is a good story to sleep on! I had four children and my youngest still does silly things at 20. LOL

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