Every boy needs a dog
In terms of bang for your buck, having a dog might be the most efficient way to teach a boy numerous manhood lessons
The first time I heard someone say that every boy should have a dog, I immediately knew it was truth. In terms of bang for your buck, this might be the most efficient way to teach a boy numerous manhood lessons. Sure, the lessons learned from dogs can be learned other ways. So, if you’re just soulless and dead inside and don’t want a dog, there’s still hope for your boy to become a man. Either way, make sure your boy learns these lessons. And, seriously, consider getting him a dog.
Full disclosure: I’m not a parent yet. I’ve heard many parents explain why they aren’t getting a dog by saying, “I’ll be the one who ends up taking care of it.” I haven’t experienced the struggle of deciding which battles to fight with a child. I’m certain it gets very old very quickly. But you are going to teach your boy responsibility, right? If you want him to be a man, you certainly are.
A man takes on responsibility. If he doesn’t, people get hurt: the family doesn’t eat; the kids don’t grow up well; the wife is neglected; the job suffers; the house falls apart; his team falls apart. Start young teaching your child that some things are just too important to not follow through. As a man, he’ll make many life or death decisions and even more good life vs. bad life decisions. Give him a taste of being responsible for the well-being of another living creature. If he begins to slack-off don’t do it for him. Are you going to pick up the pieces every time he flakes out? I hope not. Don’t do it now either. Push the boy – challenge him – he can take it and it’ll make him a better man.
Dogs are loyal. Men are loyal. See where I’m going? Your son will see his dog’s excitement to be with him, its fervent attention, its respect and obedience. He will learn that no matter what happens, his dog’s loyalty won’t waiver. Even when he screws up, the dog remains loyal.
Your son should be encouraged (if it doesn’t come naturally) to be similarly loyal to his dog. He needs to prioritize it. Maybe he watches less television and spends time throwing a ball. Maybe it goes with him to his friends’ houses or around the neighborhood. Maybe he doesn’t play a sport seven days a week and instead they embark on an adventure together.
A man will always have to make choices and arrange his priorities. And while a man’s life isn’t 24/7 at the whim of others, a good man finds himself providing for and protecting others. It’s a calling that he can’t walk away from.
Men cry too much these days, but there are a precious few relationships in which a man must be emotionally vulnerable. With his wife, a man should be strong but completely transparent. And a man should have a close inner circle of other men with whom he is honest – including emotionally honest.
Dog ownership will force a child to encounter significant emotions. Inevitably, he’ll have to deal with the pain of losing the animal. When a boy has a connection with a dog, be certain that losing it hurts. And he needs to learn how to process that hurt.
Beyond hurt, he’ll have to learn to manage his anger; dogs can be downright infuriating when they’re destructive or defiant. The more practice he has at restraining himself from violence in the heat of the moment, the better man he’ll be. As a man, he’ll find that the world is not short irritants. How will he respond? Has he learned that when he’s offended he can throw a fit and get his way? Or does he have experience calming himself, refocusing and deciding on a useful course of action.
There are times in a man’s life when (spiritual, intellectual, physical) violence will be necessary. But a man is never violent towards those helpless, dependent or weak. A man chooses his targets wisely. Learning not to kick your dog when it certainly deserves to be kicked will provide useful training for the trying times ahead.
Raising men isn’t any easier than being a man. Do yourself a favor and adopt a four-legged teaching machine. Everyone in the family will benefit, but most importantly your son will begin to understand what it means to be a man.
Your turn: tell us your best dog-lesson or dog-story. Or, tell us an important lesson we didn’t cover here.