I like to encourage my kids to ask me when they are curious about something. If I don't know the answers, I am all about looking things up on the internet and satisfying that urge to learn. I want them to feel comfortable asking me about anything at all, so they’ll get their information from me or their Dad, and not from their misinformed friends at school.
So one evening, my 5 year old, while petting our dog, asked me, "What does dog blood look like?" I said, "Well, it looks just like your blood. Why do you ask?" "I just want to know. Is it green?" "No, it’s red, just like yours." "Wouldn’t it be good if we could cut the dog open and make some blood so I can see it?"
Now at this point I am thinking, Whoa nellie! Am I raising an animal abuser? A psychotic sociopath with no empathy for others?!? A vampire? Or is this just normal 5-year-old curiosity?
I said, "Um, well, you wouldn’t want to hurt the dog, would you?" "Nooo.... I just want to see his blood! I want to know what it looks like." "Well, sweetie, we can’t cut him and look at his blood without hurting him, so no, we can’t look at his blood. You know what your blood looks like, don’t you?" "No, I don’t." "Yes you do. You’ve had a nosebleed before; remember? It’s red." "I don’t remember."
[Heavy sigh]. "Maybe I could find you a picture of some dog blood on the internet."
A brilliant idea! ... NOT.
First, how does one phrase this search on Google or ask.com (formerly AskJeeves.com), without raising red flags in case the FBI is looking for mass murderers or animal abusers by analyzing search requests?
Second, when you type in "dog blood photos" – well, for some of them you just don’t want your 5 year old standing there while you try to find one that is appropriate.
I wanted a photo that depicted blood in a realistic way (to show what it really looks like) and yet one that was not too gory or disturbing for a 5 year old. Perhaps a photo of a slightly wounded dog at a vet’s office – not a disturbing photo of a mangled pooch with blood sprayed and dripping everywhere, nor of doggy surgery (too disturbing so close to bed time), just, you know, a dog with a small, somewhat-bloody-but-not-too-gory cut that the vet would clean and suture and the dog would be fine. Apparently, this was too much to ask Mr. Jeeves and/or Google.
I definitely was NOT looking for a photo of some weird, half-naked, heavily tattooed rock group with the name "Dog Blood," or some sociopath’s artistic rendering of blood and gore entitled "Bloodhound." And yet I got those, and more . . . .
. . . There were lots of scientific photos of platelets and red blood cells made with one of those electron microscopes or something, but these didn’t show what blood looks like in real life. They looked like drawings of little fuzzy gray bowls. There were photos of a new blood substitute in a clear plastic bag like the ones they use when you give blood (the blood substitute was white! How very odd!). There was an odd photo of a clear glass syringe filled with blood. There were drawings of the circulatory system, photos of scary looking dudes covered in tattoos, lots of odd drawings and pictures of I’m-not-sure-what, and many photos and articles that seemed so completely unrelated I wondered how they even popped up in a search for "dog blood." There was even a You Tube video of how to pretend to cut yourself and make it look like you are bleeding..... But I could find no photos of a dog with a smallish bloody wound to show my kid what dog blood looks like.
I tried again, "Really, hon, this is just not working. Don’t you remember when your nose was bleeding?"
In the end, I settled for the odd photo of the clear syringe full of blood. It was such an obvious disappointment after all the time and effort and hoo-ha leading up to it. That kid will probably never ask me another question again.