Every once in a while I come across a product so off the mark that I feel the need to write an anti-review. The last time I did it was for a product that propped the back door of your car or truck open, just enough to keep up appearances and stop the cops from busting open the window while still allowing your dog to get heat stroke in the sweltering interior.
This time I’m jumping on the dog pile of vets clenching their teeth in horror at what might unintentionally be the worst dog related book of 2010, Smooch Your Pooch. It’s a lighthearted children’s book extolling the myriad virtues of hugging and kissing all over your dog, as well as, er, feeding him pizza. And sticking his head out the window.
There is nothing I can say that veterinary behaviorist Dr. Sophia Yin didn’t already state, and very eloquently, in her review. Are we being killjoys taking all the fun out of an innocent children’s story? I don’t think so. I try to overlook the occasional dubious actions in literary works if the overall message is OK, but since the very title and premise of the book invites the reader to engage in one of the most common behaviors leading to dog bites in children, it’s a fair critique. To borrow from my parenting lexicon, let’s make this a teaching moment.
Author Teddy Slater is an accomplished children’s book author, and I’ve no doubt she wrote this from the heart based on her own experiences with pets. Experiences which, fortunately for her, do not seem to include bites to the face, strangulation by leash after falling out a window, or necrotizing pancreatitis. The rest of us may not be so lucky.
Because the book is so darling, so adorably illustrated and so catchy, no doubt parents browsing the Borders shelves may easily be tempted to pick up a copy to go with that puppy they brought home for Christmas (not advocating here people, just keeping it real since we all know it’s happening.) Here’s the new dog! Now go stick your face right up in his!
I’ve witnessed my kids as toddlers attempt to snog the dogs. At best it has been tolerated. I’ve always swooped in before we could find out what ‘at worst’ entails, but anyone in the profession can tell you, it can be tragic. Even with my constant reinforcement and reiteration as to what is appropriate interaction, the kids still slip and overdo it here and there in their desire to show affection. They’re kids, that’s what they do, of course. Which is why it’s so vitally important not to encourage behaviors that could be harmful.
Despite my clear moral imperative to beg you not to read this book to your children, I feel bad for this poor maligned author. Therefore I compiled a list of books that would have been even worse, so at least she’ll have that:
- Bathtime With Bengals
- There’s a Hamster in My Pants
- One Fish, Two Fish, Cat eats, Delish
- Randy the Rabid Reindeer
- Pinching Pinschers, Pulling Pulis
- and my personal favorite, Branding Brody
See? Things can always be worse.