Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Social Skills

It appears our daughter considers herself a dog. Or, aspires to be a dog. Or, is simply paying more attention to the dog then to us (or else we behave like a pack of dogs, rather than the considerate, socialized adults we fancy ourselves to be).

Let me explain. Oscar growls. He growls at his toys. He growls when he hears a strange noise. He growls when he is drifting off to sleep. He growls at Kailey -- yes, he growls at Kailey. And us. He growls at everything -- and it is a meaningless growl. He is harmless, he just fancies himself something mightier and likes to give himself a little pep talk now and again. Of course, we should have trained him not to growl years ago. We tried. Some. We did train him not to growl at the other dogs in the dog park, so we could have conceivably carried that over to training him not to growl ever, but the growling is harmless and we got sick of saying "no Oscar" every few minutes and we didn't anticipate having a daughter who absolutely ADORED Oscar and decided that he should be her role model.

When Kai wakes up in the morning and sees Oscar for the first time, she lets out a squeal of delight. Anytime he enters the room, she whips her head around and tracks his every movement. She crawls after him and tries to get him to eat her toys offering them with her outstretched arm (Oscar has been trained -- yes, he's trainable... the dog park... remember?! -- to not touch her toys, and so he considers her offers an attempt to trick him, and he refuses to take the bait, much to her dismay). And, in her careful study of Oscar, she has decided that growling is an acceptable way to communicate. A preferred method of communication, even. It started with her growling at Oscar:

video

I think at first she figured that Oscar might hang out a bit longer if she could just speak his language.

But, she has clearly decided that growling is just the thing to do in order to express one's self, and now she growls while she crawls, when she is playing with her toys, when she's attempting to stand. She is a growler.

On Sunday we were at a friend's for dinner. They have a three year old who was quite interested in Kai and asked to hold her. So, she sat on the couch and we put Kai on her lap. She was excited and gave Kailey a big hug, and Kailey reciprocated with a big growl and a bite. Our friend's daughter thought that was hysterical, and Kailey growled again and did her kitten attack maneuver. They started wrestling a bit, both giggling and growling. Well, only Kailey was growling. It was hysterically funny. Our friend called Kai a "baby Godzilla" and we accepted that characterization, rather than explaining that Kailey was imitating a dog (a dog who happens to spend a lot of time growling. At her. And, no, we aren't going to put him down because of it. Yes, we know that growling is a warning sign and often precedes a bite, but Oscar wouldn't bite her. He just growls and we let him because we're terrible, terrible pet owners). The baby Godzilla story worked better.

So, we're raising a puppy! At least we have some experience in that department (and we all know by this post how well that has turned out).

In other news, Kailey is now cruising! She can get from one end of the couch to the other, step by careful step. I'll have to capture it on video soon. She'll be walking in no time. Maybe once she's up on two legs instead of crawling around on the ground she'll realize she's no dog. We'll see!

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