"Mommy, look, a dog! Lady, can I pet your dog?"
I looked to the mother for approval and she nodded with a smile, so I invited the girls, around 4 and 6, over. But first, I gave them instructions. I always like to use these interactions as a teaching moment for young kids.
"Always let the dog sniff your hand first," I told them. "This way, she knows that you're a little girl and not a cookie!"
The girls giggled and extended their tiny fists. Olivia sniffed the younger one's hand, then moved closer and gently nuzzled the child's chubby cheek. Immediately there was a reaction of a different kind.
"PeeeUUUUU!" the child squealed, backing up and wrinkling her button nose. "She has bad breath!"
"Well," I laughed, "she hasn't seen the dentist in awhile." And sensing that the child was no longer interested in an up-close canine moment, I turned to leave. But not before I heard the mother, in her lilting Indian accent, use the interaction for her own teaching moment.
"You see?" she gently chided the girls. "This is what happens when you don't brush your teeth!"