During her illness, her live-in boyfriend, Arthur, babysat for Justin. Baby Justin's behavior became difficult, surely a result of losing both his mother and his grandmother in such a short time. Arthur, still grieving himself, didn't know what to do with a crying, tantruming young child—and in his late 60s, he wasn't physically or mentally prepared for such a challenge. He called child protective services, seeking a permanent placement for the boy, who after all, was not even a relative. CPS apparently felt the boy was safe and asked if Arthur would keep Justin while they found alternate placement. He agreed. Arthur was a passive man, in general, and patient. He assumed that CPS would get around to finding a new home for Justin. But CPS is a reactive, crisis-focused agency and with no one putting pressure on it to do so, it didn't act.
Arthur was not malicious, but he was ignorant about the needs of children. He made a living as a dog breeder, and sadly, applied that knowledge to the care of the baby. He began keeping Justin in a dog cage. He made sure the baby was fed and changed—but he rarely spoke to him, played with him or did any of the other normal things parents do to nurture their children. Justin lived in that cage for five years, spending most of his days with only dogs as his companions.
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Published by Basic Books. © 2009
Published on March 03, 2009