Kentucky Horse Park – Part 2
I can make more kids cry before nine o’clock than most people do all day
Would you like to pet her? I ask the young boy. It’s ok. Her name is Euka.
I gotta admit, the one thing that consistently brings a sadness in my heart is to see little kids afraid of
dogs. Sure, I understand that there are families, and plenty of them, that are missing the glory of a good dog included in their clan. A personal choice made for a myriad of reasons. So we do encounter the occasional wee one that has no idea of even how to greet or pet a dog. But holy cow, these kidlets that have a fear of dogs already wired into their psyche, well it twists my heart a little.
So I see this boy, around eight years old, stop short in front of Euka and just look at her. Euka and I are in the great room at a Lexington hotel awaiting the nieces as they finish their breakfast. The girls and I seemed to decide on breakfast as the precise time as every other guest here, so nearly every table is occupied. But no matter, I’m fine with parking myself in one of the comfy wingback chairs near the entrance of the room where the pup and I can people watch. The princess is granting audience to a handful of admirers and just doing a stellar job of it.
|Ain’t nobody crying here.|
Then this boy. T-shirt and shorts and barefoot. I have no warning bells going off yet, but afterwards when I debrief myself on what went wrong here and how fast it happened, I realize this is the point where I missed some important clues.
Even though he came running into the hotel lobby with a burst of adolescent energy, he is gentle with Euka, patting her on the head, stroking her on her back. I look up expecting to see a parent or two behind him, trying to catch up with their energetic child. But nope, this barefoot boy is left to make his own life decisions this morning. He darts back into the hotel proper as quickly as he came in.
I’m talking with another family and fielding questions about CCI as the boy returns. But he brought younger companions with him- another boy around five and a toddler wearing nothing but a wet diaper. And yep, you guessed it … no adults.
Using the prior permission granted to pet Euka, he extends this admission to the other boys before I have a chance to react. They descend on her, hands everywhere in an instant. Ugh, this is not good and I tense up. Boys, I say. Only one person at a time, ok? And gentle, see? Pet her the same direction her fur lies. Like this . . .
All for naught, that. In an instant, they’ve lost interest in the pup and are now running, the three of them, back and forth across the entrance of the great room. One kiddo actually leaps over Euka as she lies by my feet. Euka, my brave girl, has been totally fine with the goings-on until 3 … 2 … 1 … Let’s Play! She’s inspired to join the excitement and breaks her Down in an attempt to join the sprint race happening before her.
I’ve got her settled back into her Down, but now safely stowed to the side of my chair, when a Styrofoam bowl holding about six flakes of cereal is set before her. Ah, the toddler has managed to help himself to the breakfast buffet. Well, that’s great, having such life skills before the age of three. Miss Euka, who indeed is accustomed to eating from a bowl placed before her, reaches her nose to sniff at the goodness of this gift. Bonus points to me for reacting quickly enough to grab the bowl to hand it back to the oldest boy and telling him to throw it away.
I don’t like to do it, it’s not my nature you know. But I had to get my mean out. It is way too early in the day to deal with this crap.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the oldest boy is now shouting at the diapered toddler. Telling him, and this is a quote, you can’t feed cereal to a dog because it has sugar it in and that’s poison and you kill dogs that way. To ensure the tiny fella gets this message clearly, he continues to shout the same message over. And over. Diaper boy runs behind a chair to work this through his head. Which apparently can’t be done without a goodly amount of shrieking.
Oh hey, guess what happens now. A responsible adult shows up. Naw, just kidding. But she may have been an older sister or something. I see she does have shoes on, so I’m starting to have some hope that we’ll reach the end of this tsunamic drama soon.
Why’s he crying? she asks. The tale of attempted assassination of dog by sugar poisoning is shared and without a word or glance our way, she stomps over to grab the tiny fella by the arm, yanks him from behind the chair and drags his damp diapered self through the hotel lobby. The shrieks continue to echo down the corridor.
Way to go, Aunt Donna. says a niece. Yeah, nice one, says the other.
Thanks, girls. Hey, I made a little kid cry before nine o’clock, I say. It’s all downhill from here.
Ok, here’s the thing. We can’t change people, right? We’re always at risk of encountering situations that can quickly escalate out of control. The worst part of the scene I’ve described went from 0 to OMG in less than two minutes. What I can change is bumping up my awareness of these potential sketchy encounters and how, or even if, I allow the pup to be greeted.
We want to be good ambassadors for CCI, we really do. It’s a noble goal, I think, to have every encounter with my pup in training to end on a positive note. So, this out-of-control kid encounter has me rather bugged.
So here ya go, world. I gotta put a harness on this soft and spongy heart of mine. It’s for the greater good, you know. A couple of changes that seem simple enough and yet will make a difference.
Things like making sure there’s an adult supervising the young ones; shoes are optional. And instead of allowing Euka to be petted, she could be asked to shake hands. A polite no, not right now; the puppy is working will pass my lips more often.
Easy ’nuff, all that. But now for the hardest one … I have to get my mean out a lot quicker before we hit Situation Meltdown. Yep, this sure feels better than being smacked in the back of the head for my prior lenient behavior.
There’s no crying at the horse park
|Photo op with Kentucky’s finest.|
The nieces, the puppy and I pack our bags to leave the drama of the morning behind us. Day Two of our Kentucky Horse Park adventures await. There’s fun to be had and we’re determined to find us some.
We have the pleasure of meeting up with the Kentucky Mounted Patrol for a photo op. One officer shares a story of his sister who has a disability. With both lupus and a seizure disorder, she is partnered with a seizure alert dog. Her dog alerts her prior to her seizures, allowing her time to place herself into a safe situation. He used the word independence when describing the partnership of his sister and her assistance dog. And you know, it seems every time I hear this word, it has an even deeper meaning.
More equine exposure for Euka’s socialization as we walk about the horse park. Horses of the World is an educational experience for all of us as we pet the velvety noses of Norwegian Fjords, Morgans, Friesians [swoon], Shetland ponies, Clydesdales and their global kin.
|Observing Horses of the World at a safe
distance from their non-business ends.
|Euka asked me to take a photo of the
lovely Belle and her hot pink Gentle Leader.
Because, Euka says, Belle is copying
her style. She’s a trend setter, you know.
Ok, so I don’t know if this obstacle course below was set up for dogs or for miniature horses, but there’s no difference for the likes of us. We put Euka through the paces pretty much just to show off. A crowd of folk were sitting on a set of bleachers by the course. It’s my guess the lot of them were just happy to find a place in the shade for a few minute’s rest with their lunches. But hey, we took the opportunity to show them the stuff of a CCI pup for a couple of minutes. Dinner and a floor show, folk. No charge.
You’re welcome, ya’ll.
|Euka demonstrates an Up.|
|And a lovely Jump over the hurdle.|
I take note that I’m not the only one snapping photos of the canine derring-do. Huh. Spectators are shooting the scene as well. My Uh-Oh radar goes off when I see a young fella step aside from the bleachers to get some closer shots and I suspect that perhaps the puppy is not the object of his attention.
Alrighty, girls. I say, giving the fella what I intend to be a maternalish stink-eye look. That’ll do for now. You wanna go check out the Mounted Patrol horse barn again?
|No boys in sight. You know, this trip was so much easier on the mind when these girls were younger.|
Being only 17, I always find it awkward to correct people's kids. Unfortunately, sometimes it is easier to just suck it up and let it slide, but I have to remind myself often that I am my puppy's only advocate and need make good decisions for his training. If there is one thing puppy raising has taught me, it is patience with people, while still standing my ground. But with that said, I LOVE when kids who are afraid of dogs get to have a positive experience with my puppies!