The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Do We Treat Our Pets Better Than Our Children

Recently, a father  became so upset when his twelve year old

son was suspended from school that he beat the boy black and blue

with  an electrical cord and bound his ankles with 30  pounds  of

stainless-steel  chain.  The arresting officer said the  boy  was

chained  like a dog.   The officer got it  wrong.  We  treat  our

dogs  better  than that.  It would be a sad  commentary  on  this

generation if it became known as the one that knew how to fulfill

the needs of its dogs better than those  of its children.

There  is a place called Krabloonik in Colorado  where  sled

dogs  are  trained.  At  Krabloonik  the dogs are  encouraged  to

romp  and to play until they are about one and a half years  old.

Then they begin their training.   They are  placed in the  middle

of an experienced team of dogs where they follow in the steps  of

the  older  dogs.  After the adolescent dog learns  commands  and

discipline,  he is worked throughout the team until he learns all

of the positions except lead.

The lead dogs are born  leaders.  Other dogs do not want  to

be  leaders and if put in that position, will reject  it.   While

they  respect  and follow the lead dog, they are most  happy  and

joyful  when  they are running with the team  and  pulling  their

share of the weight.                 

The  leader  of  the sled team is its  human  driver.   This

driver  has to earn the respect of the dogs in the team.   If  he

fails  in  this, the dogs become a pack and follow  the  lead  of

another dog instead of the driver.
The  driver  holds  no whip or rein but  commands  the  dogs

verbally.  He uses four commands:  “down” for lie down, “alright”

to go, “gee” for right turn and “haw” for left turn.  That’s  it.

He does not need to shout these commands because he and the  dogs

have  developed  a  rapport  and a  bond  of  love,  respect  and

A successful driver truly loves and appreciates his dogs and

takes  care of them.  He is the one who feeds them, houses  them,

keeps them in good health and takes them out as a team to do what

they love best, that is to race and to train.  The driver  cannot

delegate any part of this responsibility to anyone else.  He must

establish his own rapport and bond of mutual respect and love.
There  are  interesting parallels in  these  techniques  and

those used by parents who produce happy children.  These are  the

parents  who  give their children unconditional love and  do  not

expect  them  to  be something they are  not.   They  earn  their

children’s  love,  respect  and  obedience  not  by  physical  or

emotional  punishment but by always being there for them  and  by

giving  them concrete  examples of acceptable behavior.  They  do

not  use the concept of “do as I say, not as I do.”  Rather  they

treat  everybody,  including  their children,  with  respect  and


A successful family functions as a team.  All are  concerned

for  one  another   and  each  member  shoulders  his  share   of

responsibilities.  Children who grow up in these families tend to

lead   happy,  joyful  lives  because  they   are   contributing,

productive, thoughtful members not only of their own families but

of the human family.


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