Toddler vs. Retriever

Without warning, the puppies – or ‘the puppies!’ as the Little One calls them – bolted out of a nearby yard and barreled into the street.

There were no vehicles coming in either direction, but this was of little consolation to their owner, a protective Maine midwife who values safety.

The Little One and I, having just returned from the YMCA in which we each received a much-needed hour of fun – him playing with Thomas, Percy and the rest of the train gang; Daytime Dad sucking wind on a treadmill – were at our mailbox and well-positioned for what quickly became quite a show.

“Don’t acknowledge them, don’t acknowledge them!” she screamed us.


Telling a 3-year-old to ignore an excited puppy is like asking a 3-year-old if he/she is ready to leave a playground: pointless.

“Don’t acknowledge the puppies,” I say half-convincingly.

“Why?” he says.

“Because they are naughty!” the owner screams with a laugh. “They have to go inside for a timeout!”

“A timeout?” asks the Little One in a tone that suggests he’s quite familiar with the action. “Daddy, the puppies are naughty. They went into the road. Puppies can’t go in road.”

Daytime Dad responds, “Why aren’t puppies supposed to go in the road?”

Answers the Little One with impressive conviction: “We want (inaudible) safe.”

A somewhat-recent canine IQ test revealed that most dogs are as smart as toddlers.

The test, conducted by author Stanley Coren, showed dogs can learn as many words as 165 words as a 2-year-old. The smarter dogs – border collies and poodles ranked one and two, respectively – can learn as many as a whopping 250. Coren also found that dogs are also adept to problem solving.

 (A quick side note: Our Boston Terrier knows just four, including ‘cookie,’ ‘good girl’ and ‘naughty’. As a result, Daytime Dad decided against checking where Bostons rank).

Labrador Retrievers were No. 7 on Coren’s list, which would make them among the smartest dogs out there and (supposedly) on par with most toddlers.

On this day, however, we’re going to score one for the toddler, who, for the record, had a much stronger grasp of the word ‘stop’ then the barnstorming puppies did.

Most important, however, is that Little One demonstrated he recognized a potentially dangerous situation.

After the show, Little One and Daytime Dad went inside and checked in with Mommy. Little One told her about the puppies and their naughty behavior.

Daytime Dad smiled because, at the very least, a valuable lesson was reinforced.

“Let’s go sleep and take a nap,” the Little One then exclaimed after hanging up with Mom.

Could this day get any better?

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