_Gabriel, our son, while playing with a big dog accidently stepped on his paw, the dog got scared and protected himself by grabbing my son’s face with his mouth. His face got a couple of scratches, nothing serious; the animal did not try to hurt him, it was just caught off guard. At the time our son was 3 years old and smaller than the beast.
After the incident, I watched how he behaved around dogs and saw that he was not the same again, always keeping his distance; Gabriel began to build a fear of dogs.
Watching this behavior for a couple of weeks, I took charge and made an 'executive decision': without saying anything to my 'boss', my wife, I left home and drove for hours around the county in search for a dog, the right one for our family. Thinking: “If we do not take care of this fear now, it will grow and forever become a part of Gabriel.”
When I arrived home, with the beautiful pup, Nesrin, my wife almost had a heart attack. “What are you thinking? I don’t like dogs, who is going to take care of it?”
"Too late," I thought to myself.
Meanwhile, our 3 toddlers were running away from the dog, the tiny dog was excited, “woof, woof, woof” trying to play with them, yet all 3 were on top of the couch not knowing how to react to her.
That was 14 years ago, today at home we have 5 dogs.
Nesrin, the one who was opposed the most to having a dog in our house now has a favorite, Pesto, the one who is allowed to sleep in our bed. Daniela has Lola and Isabela always gets Puchi, Chupa and Lupe before Gabriel snatches one before going to bed.
_At home our dogs have been crucial in teaching all of us, especially to our children about understanding, awareness and compassion; about empathy!
While caring for our pets all three kids have developed the ability to read nonverbal cues: body language, signals and sounds. They know when a dog runs to the door they better hurry up; it needs to use the bathroom. When a dog cries they know that it is because she is hungry or lonely; it is a cry for attention. A dog wags a tail to show content and lies down next to you to show loyalty, unconditional love.
While caring for our pets they became less self-absorbed about themselves; understanding others feelings and having an increased sense of responsibility for providing for the needs of others.
_As our kids grow up caring for our dogs they have learned empathy and compassion, loyalty and responsibility; values that they will hold onto forever. They have become upright individuals that know their deeds are a representation of them and a portrayal of their soul.