Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Golden Rule?

An article in the Chicago Tribune this week extols the benefits and importance of schooling from birth for human infants. I've often wondered why we humans struggle so with this concept.

For the past week, I've lived with and cared for four golden retrievers. Two of the goldens were handled lovingly and taught various skills virtually since birth. They are happy, well adjusted, smart, people loving, incredible dogs. Two of the goldens are puppy mill products. One had virtually no human interaction the first eight weeks of his life. Both lived in small kennels with little or no stimulation. Both react with shyness and fear to new situations. Both will be affectionate with humans, but only after time and interaction has shown they can trust the human.

So what does this have to do with human children?

I've often said I have had more training as Belle's foster mom, than I ever had as a human mom. The Helping Paws method of training fosters to raise confident, competent service dogs is simple:

a) Provide a safe, clean environment with adequate nutrition for both mom and pups during the critical infancy stage.
b) Add developmentally appropriate stimulants as the pups grow to encourage mental growth.
c) Provide class training and mentoring for new fosters as the pup's needs continue to expand.
d) Surround the pup with love at each and every stage.

Sounds a lot like the perfect method for raising a human child, doesn't it? The problem is, too many human parents are "puppy millers". They lack one or more of the basics outlined above.

The Chicago Tribune article proposes public education for children from birth. I think a better use of our pre-kindergarten education dollars would be to focus on the parents. Teach them the parenting skills they need to provide the best learning environment for their child. Make Early Childhood Family Education - from pregnancy onward - a requirement for all families. Because as good as our schools can be, they can't provide all the love a child will need to become a confident, capable adult. That has to come from home.

1 comment:

Peggy said...

Hey there!

Good job with Belle! I'm still trying to get an enthusiastic greeter to relax and let ME be the one to say hello to visitors. Thankfully she does obey some commands.