Out with your dog: Kids & dogs – safety first
When I was three, my parents brought home a Bernese Mountain dog in a blanket-lined cardboard box. I named him Teddy Baby, and as he grew he turned into Teddy Bear. Ted was a great family dog – large, extra furry, sweet, always ready for a game of fetch – and I don’t think there was ever a question of whether I was safe around him, supervised or not. It’s my opinion that people generally feel like their dogs are perfectly gentle, and in many cases they are. But, a former Summit County resident – Carrie Perk – recently brought to my attention the importance of educating children on how to act around dogs to avoid dog bites, and even death. Perk and her husband lived in Summit County until 2005. Though they now live in Florida, they still own a second home in Wildernest. After the loss of her son Liam, who died shortly after the family’s Weimaraner bit him on the neck, her goal was to educate children and parents on dog body language and safety awareness.”It wasn’t like a dog mauling, my husband was foot away,” Perk said of her toddler son’s death. “Lloyd (the dog) was sitting down, and Liam startled dog. The dog bit his neck in the worst possible spot ever. … If you’re not aware of the signs, tragedy can happen. This is important for parents with little ones. We all put our pets sometimes on a pedestal. I never would have thought in a million years Lloyd would have bit my son.”Though Perk stressed that she’s not suggesting families with young children get rid of their dogs, she advocates education, supervision and giving dogs enough exercise as ways to prevent dog bites and other unfortunate situations.”Dogs need play,” Perk said. “You still have to make sure your dog gets exercise and love that they need, even if you’re busy.”She also suggested that children be educated on when they’re being too rough with their dogs, like hanging on their necks, hugging them or trying to ride them. Many times dogs are just tolerating this, she suggested. “There’s a lot of dogs in families and not a lot of information about young children and dogs, how to manage everything,” Perk said. “It’s important to view the stress signs your dog is having.”The family also founded the Liam J. Perk Foundation to spread awareness for their cause. Its mission is to help parents and dog owners create safe and healthy homes and public environments for children.”For more information, visit http://www.liamjperkfoundation.org.Anyhow, it’s food for thought.***On a lighter note, if you want to visit a fun pup-related website, go to Draw the Dog at http://www.drawthedog.com.Bruce Kasanoff, cofounder of DrawtheDog.com, wrote in to say: “We create cartoons based on photos people send us of their dogs. We attract visitors from over 125 countries, but some of my personal favorite stories come form your area. For example, nothing makes me happier than seeing a dog on the ski slopes (skiing is my other passion.)”Kasanoff invites Summit County dog lovers to send in photos, “the crazier, the better, although we sometimes do heartwarming too. If a photo inspires a cartoon, we’ll credit the dog and post the cartoon on our home page.”The website posts a new cartoon Monday through Saturday, and it’s drawn by Jim George, an ex-Disney animator.Check it out!***And remember, if you have any pet news, photos, birthday wishes or tips, send me an e-mail. I’d love to print it in my next column.Caitlin Row lives with her dog Juliette in Summit County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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