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Puppies and Santa and groping, oh my!

By Alice Bradley

Well, hello! This week, yet another four-year-old boy hit on his teacher. When will those filthy-minded preschoolers learn to keep their grubby hands to themselves?
The boy reportedly “rubbed his face” in the aide’s chest area. He was summarily suspended, and his parents were informed that his record would forever show that he sexually harassed someone. After the parents protested, the accusation was downgraded to “inappropriate physical contact.”
I have to wonder, do these people have any experience with four-year-olds? Let’s say this kid was doing something other than hugging, which seems unlikely. Maybe he was feeling her up. My son is four, and he is nothing if not preoccupied with body parts and their purposes. Couple that with a hazy grasp of personal boundaries, and I usually don’t get through the day without removing a small hand from my shirt and explaining about privacy. But have I accused him of sexual harassment? Well, once. But that was a revenge thing, okay? I admit it.
And let’s say the boy was aware that he was making an unwanted sexual advance and was taking advantage of his power as an exalted four-year-old in order to subjugate the teacher’s aide. If this is the case, either 1) he has an inappropriate knowledge of sexual behavior, which means he’s likely a victim of abuse, or 2) he’s Babyface Finster. Was he smoking a cigar? That’s always a tipoff.
In other news, a boy’s letter to Santa was returned for using an “insufficient address.” I have many questions about this story. To wit: Do these Santa letters really have to be mailed? Can’t we, you know, pretend? Just like we pretend that Santa exists? And parents, did you really have to show the kid that it was returned? Did you have to freak him out like that, just so you could get on the news? You know that Santa doesn’t exist, correct? Does any of this really matter? Where am I?
That ends my questions. For now.
Finally: when are puppies and baby toes not cute? When one is mauling the other, that’s when.
A puppy chewed off an infant’s toes while the parents slept. The parents are being charged with criminal asininity.
Here’s the scenario: the couple was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. The baby was sleeping in an infant seat next to them. There was a six-week-old pit bull puppy. The couple woke up when they heard the baby crying, saw the condition of the baby’s foot, and rushed her to the hospital.
I have so many questions today. Like: if you have a baby, do you have to get a puppy? If you have to get a puppy, do you have to put the baby on the floor next to the puppy? If you put the baby on the floor next to the puppy, does it have to be while you’re asleep?
One of the vets interviewed for this article said that if the puppy were indeed responsible (and I shudder to think who the other potential culprits could be), the removal of the infant’s toes would have taken “at least an hour.” Oookay. It makes sense that the parents wouldn’t wake up, because as we know, babies are often unable or at least unwilling to make their discomfort known. Babies! They’re born stoics.
I can’t think about this anymore because I have an urge to remove my son’s socks and double-check that his feet are intact. If they weren’t, I’m almost sure he would have said something.
Sadly, the babies’ toes could not be reattached. No word yet on the fate of the puppy or the parent-child relationship. Happy Hanukkah!

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • Matt

    December 15, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    That is completely outrageous, no four-year-old “sexually harrasses” anyone. This reminds me of other cases where 1st graders have been charged with sexual harrassment essentially for playing “doctor” with fellow kids. No child that young has those kinds of intentions. Like you said, if it was truly sexual (not just a big hug) that’s a sign the kid is being abused. The last thing a kid like that needs is the stigma of a sex offender! What is wrong with people?

  • karen

    December 15, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    So they still HAD the toes? Like, they rummaged around the floor somewhere, saying, “Here’s another one, honey!”
    I would say these are three big WTFs.

  • quinn

    December 15, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    The parents of that poor baby obviously won’t be winning any parenting awards anytime soon. (I’m also wondering why it was necessary to mention in the article that it was a “pit bull” puppy. The mention only serves to perpetuate the stereotypes and misunderstandings surrounding this so-called “breed,” when the incident seems to have more to do with the parents’ neglect and the tendency of all young dogs to go after anything that moves.)

  • elise

    December 15, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Oh my goodness.
    You’re right about the babies, though. They are pacifists, through and through.

  • Melanie

    December 15, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    Dude, the world is a weird and crazy and often terrible place. What is wrong with all these people???? My four year old loves to pinch/grab/poke my boobs and anything else he can get his hands on, because HELLO HE’S FOUR! And how do you sleep through your baby’s toes being eaten off? Just… wow. Wow.

  • Jenn

    December 15, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    Methinks the only way you could sleep through something like that is if there was a little bit of ganja involved.
    I think the real question is, if you have a baby, and you want a puppy also, what makes you think a PIT BULL is a good breed to go with?!

  • Mauigirl52

    December 16, 2006 at 12:07 am

    Do you ever get the feeling this country is just insane? I can’t believe the story about the four-year-old getting in trouble about the teacher. It’s like those little kids in kindergarten who get expelled because they used their finger to pretend to be a gun and pointed it at a friend and said “bang bang.”
    And the story about the baby and the puppy and the toes…I had heard that recently elsewhere and like Quinn, I have to ask…why do they have to mention the puppy is a pit bull puppy? Any other breed and it’s just a puppy. But if it’s a pit bull, you have to mention it. The parents are obviously idiots and shouldn’t have a puppy OR a baby.

  • Amelia

    December 16, 2006 at 3:21 pm

    Sadly, without toes, this baby isn’t going to be able to do what s/he needs most: run like hell away from his imbecile parents.
    Yet more proof that the only way a dog goes bad is if it has bad owners. Jenn, you should know that the correlation between violence and pit bulls comes from the fact that cretins who desire a vicious dog often get pits, or rottweilers, or german shepherds, and train the violence into them. Fluffy little Pomeranians have killed babies, too.
    And as for that little four year old? Please. He’s totally a perv. I mean, everybody knows that bodies=sex=dirty, right? Shame on him for trying to use his age as an excuse. Sheesh.

  • Fairly Odd Mother

    December 16, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Oh. . my. There were so many reasons to gasp while reading your post. I thought the 4 year old incident was horrific enough and then I read about the toes. How could two adults sleep through the wailing that surely occurred? And the Santa letter—what is wrong with adults in this country?

  • Lucy

    December 17, 2006 at 3:14 am

    Guys, the breed of the dog is probably worth mentioning. I’m sorry about all the discrimination toward pit bulls, most probably don’t deserve it, but it exists for a reason. Parents with dogs and babies deserve to know what breeds have hurt children, and hopefully they have the reasoning skills to make their own informed decision about choice of dog. Protecting the pit bull name by leaving it out of the story wouldn’t be ethical, and I think any other breed would have been mentioned as well– but it is especially worth noting if it is, like this, one with a ‘history of violence.’ Sorry.

  • alice


    December 17, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t have a problem with them mentioning the dog’s breed, although it doesn’t seem relevant to this story–the pit bull puppy in this case was, they think, engaging in non-aggressive puppy behavior (ack).
    Yes, pit bulls can be lovely and that all breeds of dog can bite, esp. when they’re with kids. But pit bulls are known to attack without any warning. And when pit bulls attack, they are far, far more likely to cause serious injury or death.

  • Marcy Sheiner

    December 17, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    I really like your writing, and your commentaries on news items related to kid stuff. Very amusing and well said.

  • Kyran, Notes to Self

    December 18, 2006 at 8:40 am

    To quote Keanu Reeves’ character in Parenthood, “You need a license to fish and a license to drive, but any jerk can become a parent.” Or teacher.
    And a face rub is hardly harrassment. Nipple-pinching all night long, that’s harrassment. Anybody got a good attorney?

  • quinn

    December 18, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    People don’t know enough about canine body language, unfortunately. Bully breeds do give an indication of their intentions- they’re just not as obvious as other dogs.
    This is a good basic article, if anyone would like to become more informed about “pit bulls:”

  • Scout's Honor

    December 18, 2006 at 5:39 pm

    As a child, we were acquainted with a family whose toddler bit off three of his new infant sibling’s toes. Luckily, I believe they were reattached. The mom thought baby was crying himself into a much needed nap. Hence, I always checked on crying babies when napping. Never because I thought my super gentle partial pit-bull pup was chewing them. Just because that is was responsive parents do.
    I also agree mentioning pit-bulls as a breed is just used to sensationalize, just like Dobermans in the 70’s and German Shepherds in the 80’s and Rottweilers in the 90’s. People, it’s the owners(usually crack dealers), not the dogs, who cause these tragedies.
    Just like guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Dogs, put in the wrong hands, become weapons.
    In this case, I think there is a sure case of negligance that the parents didn’t wake up. However, if this was a Chihuahua (pretty vicious creatures in my opinion), the rsult would have probably been the same.

  • ewe_are_here

    December 18, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    I hope the 4 year old’s parents do pursue this until his ‘record’ is expunged. And I hope it costs the school district a bundle if they insist on defending their position; and I hope the taxpayers raise hell when it does.
    And why would the parents of an infant think a pit bull would make a great addition to the family? Good grief!

  • Poppy

    December 19, 2006 at 12:59 am

    So on the one hand, you have an adult who’s so oversensitive that a hug become sexual harassment! Involving litigation! More work for the lawyers, woot!
    On the other hand, you have parents who can sleep through their dog chewing off chunks of their child.
    If you ask me, the teacher’s aide needs to take a large dose of whatever the parents were on.

  • You can call me, 'Sir'

    December 19, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Underneath the story of the 4-year old sexual predator was the following linked headline:
    Man Charged with Killing Wife, Baby Denied Bail
    Dear Mr/Mrs Copy Editor
    While it’s gratifying to see that the judicial system is finally cracking down on the worst and the youngest, was a baby really denied bail in this case? And if so, what kind of morally inept lawyer actively prosecutes a baby? I mean, really. Three cheers for proper punctuation!
    Love and kisses,
    The Guy Who You Can Call, ‘Sir’

  • jocelyn

    December 25, 2006 at 4:06 am

    Oh. I get it. That baby should have understood the pit bull puppy’s intentions were to knaw baby’s TOES OFF and therefore run away and woke mom and dad up before the puppy did so. It all makes sense now.
    In all seriousness, I think a main critique of having larger and less predictable breeds such as pit bulls around young children is that children are easier for them to overpower, are often defenseless against a dog their own size, and rarely can interpret a dog’s behavior or “canine body language” appropriately. Believe me, the four-year-old that gives the boob-hugs is going to be a four-year-old that wants to give doggy hugs too.
    I’m sure that many pit-bulls are lovely dogs and gentle pets. But they are one of the only breeds who have jaws that lock, making their bite that much more dangerous. And as for the likelihood of a pomeranian or a chihuahua gobbling some infant’s foot, they are simply too small and too dumb to accomplish that.

  • Cori

    December 28, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    I think it’s important to mention that the puppy was only six weeks old; much too young to be taken from its mother. There is reason to believe that the puppy was trying to suckle.
    I own a pit bull/boxer dog who is the calmest, sweetest dog I’ve ever known. But, I don’t try to change people’s mind about them. I just ask that people don’t sterotype all pit bulls. Say ‘Some pit bulls.’

  • morgan

    December 29, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    hello! i get that this writer is being sarcastic, and i like sarcasm, but i think she may have slightly misunderstood quinn’s point. i don’t think quinn expected the baby to be doing all the work of understanding the pet. but definitely that’s what the adults should have been doing.
    what makes sense is truly knowing what it means to live with an animal of any sort.
    it’s kind of amazing when you think about it: many of us co-exist with an entirely different species. not knowing them extremely well often contributes to their unforseen illnesses, attacks on people/animals, destruction of furniture etc. and once you think you know your animal, think more, because we aren’t even scratching the surface of what it means to really understand other animals. therefore, i would not leave any animal (bird, rabbit, cat, dog) unattended with a child. either one can and does harm the other.
    species and breed and individual temperament matter in that we need to be extremely well-educated about our particular animal in order to make decisions that keep everyone and everything safe.
    when startled some animals are more easily provoked to attack. some retreat. factors that are important are species, breed, and individual temperament. one is not more important than the other. one is not more conclusive than the other: “oh, it’s a pit bull it will bite. oh it’s a retriever it will swim.” and because babies and puppies and kittens and bunnies don’t have an easily discernable temperament at that baby-age, we have to be even more vigilant. and that is why you don’t leave jealous toddlers with a new baby. or clueless puppies. or formerly abused cats. or irresponsible grandparents. or anyone/anything whose behavior you cannot predict with 100% certainty. and that includes pretty much everyone and everything. as your child grows, you can teach him or her to respond to a variety of threats in this world. and in the meantime, you are vigilant about everything.
    what do we know about genetics? i admittedly don’t know much. it does make sense to me that if your pet comes from a long line of trained-to-attack animals, you may want to do all you can to understand how much, if any, of that is inherited. some rabbit breeds tend to be more “laid-back” than others. others keel over in fright. i would not leave either with a child unattended. i would not leave a retriever puppy or a doberman puppy with a child. i tend to think that behavior is a combination of nature and nurture and it is our responsibility to know our animals.
    and it’s a funny thing, because why were there fewer pit bull attacks in the 70s? all i ever heard about then were the dobermans. maybe no one was training them in that way. therefore, basically, i would think that most dogs can be trained to be vicious. and if we banned pit bulls from being owned, as some states want to do, then something else would take it’s place. “meet border collies–they herd your children before they kill them.” so it’s not about the pit bull. it’s about people who take an animal and use it for terrible purposes.and if pit bulls weren’t here it’d be something else.
    what flabbergasts me is the parents in the story. i can’t believe a child would be merely “crying”. i believe that kid would be screaming, and therefore those parents are negligable not for owning a puppy, but for leaving any puppy with a child and for being so completely out of it they did not respond to a child’s screams.

  • Samantha

    January 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Little late on this one, but I just found this site. I enjoy your attitude toward these things.. I personally have a 6 pound Chihuahua that absolutely loves chewing baby fingers.. Of course my child and I don’t sleep on the floor, and the baby tends to scream if the dog gets anywhere near him.

  • Vicki

    January 8, 2007 at 10:16 am

    OMG, I thought I had the only 4 y.o. juvenile delinquent. He was sent home with the “vandalism” box checked on a conduct form for splashing water in a bathroom. Imagine!

  • Emily

    January 25, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    WOW, who sleeps on a mattress with a baby in a carrier next to them with a 6 week old puppy in the same room? most likely he was teething and the soft little toes looked nice and chewy pitbull or not most dogs would chew all pups chew, we all know that, new puppys and new babys DONT GO TOGETHER! i hope that that pup didnt get in to much trouble, it was more or less the parents fault,
    WOW, who sleeps on a mattress with a baby in a carrier next to them with a 6 week old puppy in the same room? most likely he was teething and the soft little toes looked nice and chewy pitbull or not most dogs would chew all pups chew, we all know that, new puppys and new babys DONT GO TOGETHER! i hope that that pup didnt get in to much trouble, it was more or less the parents fault,
    <3 a concerned teen