Hi, My Name Is "No", What's Yours?

At one time, I worked as a live-in nanny in England. I got a family with a two-year-old girl, Sarah.

As I got there, first thing I noticed was that she could only say one word, "no".

It was her answer to any questions, the only thing she'd ever say.

"Sarah, do you want beans or chicken?"
"Sarah, how was your day?"

No matter what the question, the answer was always the same.

I didn't have much prior experience with little kids so I wasn't sure whether she should be able to talk more than that or not but I still found it strange that this would be her only word.

After the first day passed, I got "off duty;" her mother was home to take care of her. I quickly learned the reason. All I could hear up in my room was, "Sarah, no!" "Sarah, no!" "Sarah, no!" This went on the entire evening.

As it were, my job, besides getting her changed, cleaned up and fed, apparently was to keep her from doing things

I too was expected to follow her around, shouting, "Sarah, no!"

There was nothing appropriate for her to do. The house was not set up for kids. Everything was precious, breakable or off limits. She had only two toys. Plastic alphabet pieces and a toy phone. Not surprisingly, they held no interest for her. The phone no longer made any noises and the alphabet pieces were just good enough to eat. They were supposed to get threaded on a string to form words.

Ironically, the "N" was missing.

What does one do with a two-year-old kid for 12 hours in a house where she cannot touch anything and cannot go outside?

I was pretty desperate. My main goal became getting her tired enough so she'd sleep when she was supposed to have a nap (which she hated) and then survive until her mother came home.

We spent most of the day playing catch, hide and seek and "riding down the stairs" on our butts. 

In spite of my best efforts we still managed to get in trouble when I let her play with her father's little model car and she managed to jam it into a tape deck door. She was driving it around the room on the furniture and I felt it was harmless enough. It happened in a blink of an eye. She broke the slot and we were in a big doo doo.

I only lasted a week before I couldn't take it any more.

I asked for a transfer to a different family. Apparently that wasn't surprising; when the father came home at the end of the week and found out I was leaving, I heard him asking his wife, "What did you do to this one?"

Sadly, as it seems, that week Sarah had the most fun in her lifetime. And in that one week, she learned to say, "Where are you?" and a few other things from our play.

Today, I would be able to get more creative entertaining her. But my point is about the parallel to what we often do to our dogs.

A dog needs to do SOMETHING.

If we don't give them things to do, they'll find their own entertainment. Odds are we won't like their choice and end up chasing them around, shouting, "No!"

How many dogs out there think their name is "No", "Stop That" or the like?

How many dogs think that the only way they can get our attention is by getting into trouble? To a dog, any attention is better than none.

Let's save ourselves and our dogs the frustration. Let's give them things to do, teach them things we want. Let's allow them to learn their actual names.

Does your dog know their name?

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  1. What a funny article. Kilo gets his name confused with "No" or "Down" or "Not On the White Couch" all the time.


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