We have one pet—a fish named Jack. We had two foster bunnies, Easter and Thumper, who dwelled in our garden, but we haven’t seen them for awhile. That could be due to the two big (harmless to humans) snakes that live under our sidewalk.
Despite being practically pet-less, we’re dog people. We love dogs. Some neighbors whose backyard attaches to ours have a big oafish yellow lab named Nemo, and I love to watch him frolic and play, ears and tongue flapping valiantly in the wind.
We are NOT cat people. I’m allergic to them, they make everything smell like pee or poop, they are standoffish, and, I’ll say it, they're rude. They’re judgmental little creatures who would happily scratch you just to watch you bleed.
Dogs? Dogs have souls purer than newborns. My uncle has this whole philosophy about dogs that he calls Dog Theology. I forget the details, but it’s remarkably profound. I’m serious! Uncle Brent, if you’re reading this, perhaps you can explain Dog Theology in the comments section?
So, for Christmas this year, I bought Charlotte a board book at Costco aptly titled DOG. (See the cover image above.) It’s interactive, the tails wag, the dogs have different textures for fur, and the dog leg raises up and down to pee.
Oh my goodness. DOG is Charlotte’s Jane Eyre. She loves it. We read it in the morning, and then we read it AT LEAST three more times in the evening. When we get to the “shaggy dog” (with its grey curly fur), we sing the “Shaggy Dog” song Chris made up. When we get to “howl dog” (a chocolate lab puppy), we HOWWWWLLLL that dog. And on the last page, when Charlotte lifts up the tree picture to find the one lone CAT!, I always editorialize that we don’t have to swerve for cats.
I should probably stop doing that.
No matter where I “hide” the book, thinking that this time she’ll pick a different one, Charlotte looks until she finds it, struggles to grab it with her pudgy hands (it’s quite a large book), and carries it over to wherever I am. If I’m doing something in the middle of the room, she plops down at my feet (like a dog, of course), opens the book, and looks up at me expectantly. And who can resist that? So I sit down behind her and she leans back, nestling into me and getting all comfy. And we read DOG.
Or, if I’m already in the rocking chair, she finds DOG, comes over to me, and (holding the book) turns to face outward so she’ll already be in her reading-with-mommy position when I pull her up into my lap. And we read DOG.
If it’s morning time, that’s it. No more DOG with Mommy, but she does get to bring it with her to our bedroom while we get ready for work. There, she goes through the book on her own.
If it’s bedtime, she slides off my lap and picks another book off the bookshelf. Who knows what she’ll choose? Back up she comes, and we read. Then, she slides off to pick out her third book (we read three or four per night, depending on how wired she is and how much winding down we need to do). As she searches for her third book, she looks around, confused. Where is DOG? Well, it’s not on the shelf, because we just read it. Usually, it’s on top of her dresser—the closest surface for me to set it from the rocking chair.
So she starts frantically pointing at it, whining, “Muh! Muh! Muh!” (“More”? “Mine”? We dunno.)
“Really?” I say. “You want to read it again?”
She nods, furiously.
And so we read DOG. Again. And you know what? We usually do it a fourth time.
School Library Journal had the gall to give this book a poor review, saying “leave this one for the bookstore,” citing awkward phrasing and the reviewer’s prediction that toddlers would totally miss the point of the sticky dog tongue on one of the pages.
I beg to differ. My girl touches all the dogs’ tongues, looking for the sticky one. When she finds it, her face breaks into a grin.
She touches all the dogs' "fur," helps me make their tails wag and heads shake and legs scratch, and loves to find the sticky tongue.
I mean, really. She’s a book-lover and a dog-lover, all at once. You know, pretty much perfect.