A story out of South Carolina about a dog, a toddler, and a babysitter is getting a lot of play on the web.
Briefly: When a dog becomes aggressive toward the family’s babysitter, the parents take action – against the sitter, not the dog. They tuck an iPhone between a couple of cushions in the couch and capture the sounds of the sitter cursing and slapping the child. The sitter is ultimately charged with assault and battery. She pleads guilty and is sentenced to one –to-three years in prison; she will also be registered on a state list of child abusers and will not be permitted to work with children in the future.
No doubt, the family’s dog is a hero.
But this story has other heroes, too: the child’s parents. I say this not simply because they hid an iPhone and got the goods on the sitter, but because of the trust and respect they have for their dog.
When the dog turned aggressive toward the sitter, the parents could have found fault with the dog, asking themselves, asking the dog, “What’s with this behavior?” They could have reprimanded the dog. They might have thought the dog was being overly protective and could perhaps pose a danger to non-family members visiting the home. Or they might have had concerns about whether the dog would turn its aggression on their son. Their focus could have been: What’s wrong with our dog?
Fortunately, it wasn’t.
How wonderful that their instinct was not to reprimand the dog. How wonderful that they had such faith in their four-legged family-member that they saw the aggression as a message that something was awry, dangerously awry.
If not for that faith, this story could have turned out far differently.
Every day people surrender dogs to animal shelters throughout the country. Sometimes they do so because, they say, their dog is aggressive. I’m sure in many instances the owner is absolutely right and the dog presents a danger to whoever it may meet; the dog is a time bomb. But I’m also sure that there are times that a dog is just rambunctious, or untrained, or claiming “aggression” seems a way to surrender a dog, no questions asked. In many of these cases, the shelter is the end of life for these innocent animals.
So, let’s celebrate this amazing dog. And let’s also celebrate its parents, who listened to their dog when it had something so very important to say. And let’s all take a moment to thank our own dogs for their love and loyalty, and for being the guardians and protectors of our families.