Man About Menifee: Dogs Can Be a Baby's Best Friend, Too

By David Baker

I've often heard it said that dogs are man's best friend. Quite frankly, I have to disagree with that sentiment. Don't get me wrong; I love my dogs incredibly. But they really are my kids’ best friends.

I really can't remember a time in my life when I didn't have dogs. My first dog was a dachshund named Stinker. He came by his name honestly. Unfortunately, when I was a toddler my parents had to put him down because he bit me when I was crawling near his food dish. Shortly after when I was very young, we got an Airedale Terrier named Shannon. She was really my dog and we had her until she died when I was maybe 10 years old.

By then we had other dogs too. There was Buttercup the golden retriever, and Jenny and Brandy, mutt strays we adopted -- or maybe they adopted us. One day, my dad brought a pit bull mix home from a friend at work. My daughter Alexandra loved to crawl on the floor, climb on him and pull on his cheeks and he was happy to let her.

When Alexandra was 1, my wife and I adopted a golden retriever mix named Nala from a retriever rescue society in San Diego. They called her Nala (as in the Lion King) because when rescued, her hair was all matted and they had to shave her except for her mane and the tuft at the end of her tail.

About eight years ago, my boss at the time gave us a Brittany Spaniel Labrador mix named Coco. He had bought Coco as a puppy a few months prior but because he and his wife worked, they didn't have time to take care of her.

While Coco was visiting my parents’ house, the neighbor’s Golden Retriever that they used for breeding jumped the fence and gave us 12 golden mix puppies with Coco. Of course, shame on us for not having her spayed, but all the puppies went to friends, family and neighbors and they all have good homes now. We kept one and his name is Jaxson.

About a year ago, we saw the listing on Menifee 24/7 for a pit bull mix named Missy. Someone had found Missy running around on the highway but couldn't keep her because Missy didn't get along with her other dogs.

Some people had posted some rather ugly and unintelligent comments related to pit bulls under the listing, so my wife and I decided to see if Missy would be a good fit for our dogs. Now, any good dog owner will tell you rule number one is, you never go out, get a dog and bring it home to your other dogs. If you do, you're just asking for trouble. We phoned the person who made the listing and asked her to meet us at E.L. Pete Petersen Park on Murrieta Road.

This park has two nice sized dog runs, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. We introduced the dogs in this neutral space and watched how they interacted. I threw the ball for them for maybe 30 or 45 minutes, just enough for them to get tired. Then I called the dogs over, put the leashes on them, said goodbye to Missy's former owner and took all three dogs home.

When we introduced baby Joshuah, I held him and showed him to the dogs. They were only allowed to be around the baby when they were calm and seated. If the dogs began to get antsy or too excited, I sent them away.

Today, the baby is not afraid of the dogs and the dogs are not afraid of him. Joshuah even takes naps with our ferocious pit bull Missy (yes, this is sarcasm; see below).

So I'll put this out to the readers: How did you get your dog? What's your dog’s story?

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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