Mike and I don’t have any direct involvement with any babies at this point in time (which is to say we know some babies and quite enjoy those babies but are not responsible in any way for those babies’ food, shelter, or general well-being) so we’re certainly not experts on the subject, but Mike and I are constantly discovering ways in which babies and dogs are very similar: they both slobber on you, they both love to play with brightly coloured squeaky toys, they both require consistent training if you’re going to expect them to learn anything, and they will both eat Cheerios off the floor if you allow them to.
I should note at this particular juncture that the parents we know tend to respond unfavourably to this comparison, but I can assure you it is all in jest, since both Mike and I are very much aware that recent studies have shown that there are a number of crucial differences between babies and dogs. I was reminded of this fact on the weekend, when I was told a story of a parent assuming their child could swim and everyone in the vicinity discovering in fairly short order that the aforementioned child could NOT, in fact, swim, as she jumped in the pool and had a lot of trouble resurfacing. Thankfully, the person whose pool was being used for this experiment acted quickly and heroically and the story did not end tragically, but it’s safe to say, I think, that swimming is not something that necessarily comes naturally to babies or even older children for that matter. This is why many parents shell out their hard-earned money to send their kids on a weekly basis to spend a half hour with Kimberly or Austen at the local rec centre, learning how to tread water and do an inefficient and slightly awkward front crawl and grab miscellaneous items from the bottom of the pool.
Not so with dogs! It was very warm and humid on Sunday afternoon, so I got it into my head that we should take Daisy out to Snyder’s Flats, which is a little swimmin’ hole on the edge of the Grand River that is unofficially a dog beach (and also unofficially a beach where teenagers drink beer, I think). This is where I discovered one of those key differences between dogs and babies: somehow dogs intuitively know how to swim! (It is true. It must be in their genetic code somewhere.) They will glare balefully at you as they paddle around the water, trying desperately to find a rock to stand on and put an end to the indignity, and they will smell pretty bad for a while after, but if you wade into a swimmin’ hole and pull your dog in with you, no heroic actions are required, unless you consider remembering to bring a towel for the back seat of the car to be heroic, in which case heroic acts were indeed required but not performed on Sunday afternoon.