A dog barked downstairs. Problem is, my family doesn’t have a dog.

A dog barked downstairs. Problem is, my family doesn’t have a dog.

“Do you hear that?” my wife asked.

Yes, I did. The noise sounded like a Jack Russell terrier destroying our family room. That’s pretty hard to miss.

I nodded.

“She’s kind of yippie,” my wife said.

Yes, our Jack Russell terrier sounded extremely yippie, like she was the kind of dog who would keep barking until the neighbors called the authorities. Since our Jack Russell terrier is a three-and-a-half-year-old preschooler, walks on two legs and is terribly fond of Disney princesses, those authorities would be the Division of Family Services. As we stood there wondering just when our daughter’s career choice of being a doggie would stop, we got our answer – never. The yipping just got louder.

“She’s coming,” my wife said.

Then our daughter/Jack Russell terrier ran into the room naked. She was wearing clothes five minutes earlier; I don’t know how these things happen. I just hoped the Division of Family Services would wait until we got her dressed before they broke through the door wearing SWAT uniforms.

“I’m a nice girl baby puppy,” our daughter announced, like she has at least 50 times a day for the past three months. I am not joking. Fifty times – at least. I’ve been counting. You want to come over and find out? No, I didn’t think so. Wimp.

At some point in our daughter’s three-plus years of development, she decided to try being a dog. She occasionally walks on all fours, carries toys in her mouth, and pants when she wants something. Some people might think it’s cute, but they’re not the ones who’ll have to pay for psychiatrists later in life.

Initially, my wife encouraged this imaginary play by feeding the “puppy” dog food (that oddly enough looked and tasted exactly like Cheerios) in a bowl on the floor. This has thankfully stopped.

As the months and months of puppyhood wear on, my wife and I are beginning to wonder if this is even remotely normal. What I found is surprising. Yes, her behavior is normal. Not only is our daughter acting like a dog perfectly acceptable (albeit annoying), she’s still more normal than other people’s kids.

Take these results from the Google search “Is a child acting like a dog normal?”

1) “Someone please tell me this is normal.  My otherwise brilliant and beautiful two-year-old barks and pants like a dog. It drives me insane.”

Which sounds amazingly sane after reading this:

2) “I have recently started watching a friend’s two boys. The five-year-old boy insists he is a dog when he is at our house; crawling, barking and even peeing like a dog outside. I brought it up with their mom, and she said that he does it at home, too. She said he had even gone outside to go poo. Is this normal? I think it is weird.”

That is weird. And I was worried by barking. Our daughter is just fine. But, still …

“I’m a nice girl baby puppy, woof, woof,” she told me one morning.

“Honey, could you not be a puppy today?” I asked as sweetly as I could muster before coffee. “What else could you be today?”

She put her arms behind her and marched into the other room moaning, “Oh, my back hurts. Oh, my back hurts.”

Great. Now she’s me.