I’ve got a pretty good family when it comes to working out the holidays. over the years we’ve all gotten comfortable with making sure we ask for what it is we really need, and make it clearly different from what we just want. (Which, I feel, is the secret to a good family gathering with a minimum of drama.) My sister had a very specific desire: to introduce her son C to Sasha so that she could begin her campaign to get a dog. (It seems that he’s had a few scary experiences with dogs coming right up into his face and he’s on the verge of being AFRAID of all dogs.) I had a desire to see the two of them interact. My mother wanted to spend time with the family as a group and with me individually. Overall, I think we succeeded, but the highlight was the boy-dog interaction. (And Sasha’s first trip to the beach, but that’s another post.)
C. was definitely weirded out by Sasha. Her head is literally at the level of his head, so he consistently gets a clear look at her big mouth of teeth. And he tends to carry food around in his hands, so he’s a big attractant for her. But C. pretty quickly got over needing Mommy to hold him whenever Sasha came near and on day two got pretty good at saying “Sasha, NO” when she got up in his face. For our part, J and I just paid a lot of attention to where she was and what she was doing. A gentle “leave him alone” was all that was needed to turn her aside, even when it was a plate full of his food. What she loved to do most of all was sneakily kiss him. She’d just lope quietly from across the room and then then — slurp! — lick him upside the face. At first, this freaked him out. (See comment earlier about the big mouth of teeth.) Then he got used to it, or resigned to it, and he’d just wipe his face and go back to playing. Breakthrough on day 3 — she went to sleep on her bed and he played at his train table while the adults had dinner.
Day four sealed the deal: C went right up to her, shrieked her name and then ran out of the room, looking over his shoulder to see if she’d follow. She did, staying right behind his shoulder, slowly loping along in the wonderful wolf-like way that her breed exhibits. C ran right into the hall and got ‘cornered’ by her. He turned, laughing and held his hands up to his face and she licked him right under the chin, which made him shriek with laughter again and run back through the house, with her grinning and following behind.
Fun stuff. I think I have some pictures (it’s sort of a blur to me now) and if so, I will post them soon.