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article imageOp-Ed: A dog is a child's best friend

By Scott Ungerecht     Jul 7, 2012 in Lifestyle
Baker City - As adults, we have all heard different versions of how a boy meets a girl and they fall in love, but have you heard the latest tale of how a boy met a puppy at a rodeo and fell in love?
Yesterday I read a very touching news article on the Baker City Herald website titled “The story of a boy and a dog”, which was written by Jayson Jacoby.
The article is about an 11-year-old boy named Kit Haberman who had difficulties making friends in school and developed a close friendship with a Dalmatian/Australian hybrid puppy he named Rodeo. Their friendship lasted for fifteen years.
According to the article, Kit had suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit disorder when he was born. He also met his new canine friend, Rodeo, under less then ideal circumstances when Kit and his mother attended the 1996 Haines Stampede Rodeo in Haines, Oregon.
During the rodeo, there was a special event for young children called the “Animal Scramble”, where children ran around inside an enclosed rodeo arena and tried to catch a dog, a chicken, a rabbit, or whatever kind of creature caught their attention. If a child actually caught an animal, they could keep it. Kit eagerly participated in the event, hoping to take something home.
Now imagine a very scared Dalmatian/Australian hybrid puppy trying to avoid a dozen loud screaming children who are chasing other scared creatures and creating noise, dust and confusion. That unfortunate puppy was Rodeo.
As fate would have it, Kit somehow focused all of his attention and energy on catching Rodeo and successfully did it. All he had to do now was convince his mother that Rodeo was worth keeping, which is not easy for a human male to accomplish at any age, whether it is taking home a puppy or a new girlfriend.
Like any skeptical parent, whose son wants to bring something (or someone) new into their family, Kit’s mother was a little hesitant at first. However, after seeing the immediate love Kit had in his eyes for Rodeo, she quickly relented and accepted Rodeo as a new addition. After all, what mother wouldn’t give a new puppy one chance at being accepted?
Like the beginning of any new relationship, Rodeo started experiencing some problems. He had an injury on his right front leg that damaged the growth plate. A veterinarian in Baker City diagnosed it as something Rodeo probably experienced soon after he was born. Rodeo’s only options were amputation, an expensive surgery or euthanasia.
Kit’s mother decided to try to save Rodeo’s life by having surgery done on his leg, but she couldn’t afford it. Eventually, word got around at Kit’s school about Rodeo and the school hosted a bake sale to help raise money for Rodeo’s surgery. The school raised the money and Rodeo went to a veterinarian hospital in Portland, Oregon to save his leg.
Fifteen years later, Rodeo passed away. During his long life, Rodeo provided much needed love and companionship for a young boy who felt like he didn’t quite fit in with children his own age. I know exactly how Kit felt because I was a lot like him.
I had a difficult time making new friends and finding acceptance while I was growing up as a kid in Alaska. I didn’t have any siblings, so I would spend a lot of my free time at home playing with the family dog, which was an Australian Shepherd. His name was Buster.
Buster and I were good companions. I would always run out of energy long before he did whenever we chased each other and jumped around in the back yard of my parents’ house. I loved Buster and he loved me. We were inseparable. Buster also taught me about universal love, acceptance, loyalty, faith and how to be a good person.
The story about Kit and Rodeo are as familiar as the stories we know about Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows. A boy befriends a dog and the dog provides a lifetime of love and friendship. Then the dog passes away, but not before teaching the boy some important lessons about love, acceptance, loyalty, faith and how to be a good person.
When you hear these stories, you truly understand why a dog is a child’s best friend. Although Buster is long gone, I still remember the first time I saw him as a puppy. I immediately fell in love with his cute innocence and began a long, unique friendship with him.
Then one day Buster passed away due to old age, and I eventually became a man, and a better person, because of my companionship with Buster that lasted almost 20 years.
Why can’t more adults be like dogs when it comes to teaching children about loyalty, love, acceptance, companionship or faith? Why are dogs sometimes more successful at teaching these lessons? Do you think dogs know something about children that we do not?
There is no doubt in my mind that children can learn many good things from a puppy or a dog through genuine love and acceptance. Most dogs will do anything to protect and guard the life of a child. I know because I’ve seen it happen.
Maybe universal love and acceptance is what a dog can teach a child the most during the hardships of growing up. Maybe that is the best reason why a dog is a child's best friend.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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