10 Lessons We Can Learn from Dogs and Toddlers

My daughter Anna was visiting for more than two weeks with her dog Ruby, a pit/Dalmatian mix who also happens to be deaf. (Sometimes I think it’s selective hearing like my children used to have.)

Anna became Ruby’s human over a year ago when she decided to foster a dog for a young man who was aging out of the foster system himself and couldn’t keep his two puppies. The idea was that maybe Ruby would go back to him, but that was not to be. Anna quickly went from foster mom to adoptive mom.

I was a little concerned about having Ruby this year because last Christmas she turned my big, sweet, shy brown labradoodle Lucy into a snarling mess. I had never seen Lucy snap, nip, growl or snarl at anything. For some reason, she had to put Ruby in her place. Whatever she was teaching Ruby last year must have worked, because this year, Lucy and Ruby were fine together. Although, I’m pretty sure Lucy was rolling her eyes at Ruby’s antics.





Our cat Weeble, however, did not adjust to Ruby. Ruby tried to flatten herself to slide underneath a couch or a bed to get to Weeble. She could bound straight up and fly across the room in an instant if she saw Weeble go by. Ruby was relentless. Poor Weeble. The little cat stood her ground, growling and complaining, ducking and hiding. I think she’s still feeling a little anxious.

I do think that Ruby reminded me of how life is with a toddler.

Here are 10 lessons from Ruby that also apply to toddlers:

  1. Don’t yell at me. It won’t stop my behavior, and I can’t hear you anyway. A gentle touch and simple redirection of my attention works much better than being angry with me.
  2. Yes, I can open doors and do other things that might surprise you. I am always watching what you do. I can figure out how to open doors, cabinets, climb on top of the refrigerator, or do many other amazing feats that you would never expect. Don’t let me out of your sight.
  3. Cats are for chasing, any time, all the time. This, I think, is self-explanatory.
  4. I like my routine. Feed me, give me exercise, let me take a nap and go to bed at the same times and I will be much happier.
  5. I will eat most things that I shouldn’t, including cat food and poop. Again, self-explanatory.
  6. I prefer sleeping in your bed to sleeping alone. I love to snuggle.
  7. My behavior is not premeditated to drive you crazy. It’s just who I am: curious, energetic and inexperienced.
  8. Splashing in mud, water and running away from you are all fun activities.
  9. I want you to play with me on my terms.
  10. I’m the kid you got, so accept me as I am.

Ruby and Anna are back in Austin now. I miss Anna, and I even miss Ruby’s doggy smile. Lucy gave one of her deep sighs of satisfaction to have her house back, and Weeble finally came out from under the bed.

Categories: Editor’s Blog