Yeah, I understand: Your little “furbaby” and my churlish hound “just wanna pla-a-a-y-y.” But because you’re a bit stupid about your dog is not an excuse to put yourself, two (or more) dogs, and me at risk. To say nothing of putting your kids in harm’s way.
Just back from a quick morning doggywalk. Understand: my dog weighs 23 pounds, though she thinks it’s 123. She looks harmless…but no dog is harmless. No matter how vividly you imagine it’s your furry little kid and no matter how much you believe you’re a pet “parent,” it’s still a dog. It is not a four-legged child.
Even if you love it as though it were your child, it’s a dog. Even if it’s your only friend on this earth, dammit, it’s still a dog.
And dogs? They behave like dogs. They do not behave like two-year-olds, they do not behave like nine-year-olds, they do not behave like your thirty-year-old best friend from high school
They behave like dogs.
If you’re not willing or able to learn how dogs think, well…consider this: maybe you shouldn’t have a dog.
So we’re strolling along a neighborhood lane over in the direction of Conduit of Blight Boulevard. As we approach a corner, along comes a merry family group: two young boys, about 8 or 10 years old, zipping along on scooters as they accompany their dad, who is being dragged down the sidewalk by two large dogs, about 80 to 90 pounds apiece. Though both dogs are on leads, they decidedly are not under control: they are not at heel — they are pulling this guy up the road.
The instant they spot Ruby…well, you can imagine the doggy thought process:
Hey! Predator alert!
Dayum! That thing is coming at our pea-brained human pets.
Ruby, being a corgi, fears nothing. She sees these things as wolves come to stalk her own pea-brained human. She stands them down and prepares to charge.
Get it! Get that damn thing before it catches one of the brats!
I’m on it! KILL!
Both dogs charge me and my dwarf pooch, which I immediately pick up off the sidewalk by way of (no doubt futilely) protecting her from the attack. She responds to the charge by trying to lunge at the guy’s dogs.
As he tries to set the brakes by hauling on the two dogs’ leashes, they drag him forward and pull him across the path of one of the boys’ scooters. The boy rolls helplessly into the mêlée and instantly is entangled in the leashes.
He tumbles off the scooter and face-plants on the sidewalk.
The other boy dodges out of the way with about half a second to spare. The dogs, confused by this distraction, stand down.
Mercifully, the first boy climbs to his feet, apparently unhurt, and hops back on his scooter.
The problem here — besides the obvious stupidity of the adult human specimen — is that even though these were big dogs, neither one of them was obedience trained. Nor, we might add, was the human: obedience training is a two-way process. The guy had two big, powerful animals barely under control in the presence of two children.
You would think that a grown man, even if he doesn’t give a damn about some old lady and her puff-ball corgi, would at least consider the safety of his own children, wouldn’t you?
No. Because, one presumes, Americans are stump-dumb stupid about dogs.
All dogs, even small ones that you can pick up and carry out of harm’s way (maybe…) should be obedience-trained. When you get a pooch from the dog pound or the rescue society, the first thing you should do is take it to a vet for a health check. Second thing, which you should do on the same day, is hire a trainer to help obedience-train the animal and to teach you how to handle it. That’s a real trainer, not some salesperson down at the Petsmart. Ask the veterinarian for a referral.
When you get a puppy from some rescue or breeder, right away start learning how to teach the critter, humanely, to coexist with humans. Consult with your veterinarian or with a trainer about the first steps you need to take toward leash-training and obedience training the pup, and when. Then, when the animal is old enough, hire that trainer to help you obedience-train it.
And bear in mind…the first step to common sense is understanding that it’s not a child: it’s a dog.