From the time I was born, to the time I was about 16, my family always had at least one dog in the home. I’ve talked about Suki the Pug, but my family had two other dogs at various times, and sometimes overlapping. Katie, a Shetland Sheepdog, which is more commonly known a “Sheltie” or “Miniature Collie”, because they look just like a standard Collie, but are about half the weight.
I used to joke that she was about 25 pounds, and about half of that was fur. In later years, my family had a dog that was Yellow Lab and Chow, named Rose. She looked almost exactly like a lab, but acted like a Chow, which is a bad combination.
She was 75 pounds (I have noticed that when other large breed dogs are crossed with a Chow, the resulting dog ends up becoming larger), was very tall, if you measured her height when she was standing on her back legs, she would have been somewhere between 4’6 to 4’9
She was a massive dog, larger than an average Lab, which most people assumed she was fully Lab, and when she would jump up on the fence facing the sidewalk (my parents still live in that house on the corner), the 4 foot fence would only come up to her chest, and she would let her legs dangle over the fence. When people would walk by, she would bark, and wag her tail, and when people would see her sheer size, and hear that deep bark, they would walk across the street, rather than pass by her.
The cruel irony of it (at least for Rose), was that she enjoyed having random people pet her, but very few people were willing to do so. She loved people, especially children, but with having a typical Chow personality, she was very territorial, I remember my neighboring having a pit bull that both he and his now ex-wife pampered, she was the happiest dog around, and Rose returning her high pitched pit bull yelp with a vicious growling that convinced me that she would kill her if ever given the opportunity.
She could also get violent if you tried to force her to do something she didn’t want to do (which is why my family ended up giving her away, we warned the new owners about that), or when she would get scared.
Trying to take her to the veterinarian to get her toenails clipped was an experience. The vet’s office tried simply restraining her, which involved 5 people, a gauze tourniquet and muzzle on her mouth, and 5 people. I’m not kidding, she was as strong, if not stronger than a pit bull, and even restrained like this, she still tried to fight. When she took the side of her head, and slapped a vet tech in the face, the vet declared that enough was enough, and the next time, decided to give her Valium to calm her down. It still took 2-3 people to hold her down, and it was funny to see her in the car on the ride home, she looked dazed and mellow, sitting there panting, she looked like she had just been smoking pot.
Chows are definitely not the kind of dog you want to have around children, and it has always baffled me why they don’t get the bad reputation that pit bulls often do, like I said, I had a neighbor that had a spoiled pit bull, and she was a happy dog (and still is), and the only truly violent ones I have ever encountered were ones that the owners had abused them or trained them to be violent. More people are starting to disbelieve the media hype of pit bulls as being naturally vicious monsters, and even President Obama has spoken out against what is known as “breed specific legislation”, ordinances in some
cities and counties outlawing pit bulls and some other large breed dogs.
I was at my mechanic’s office recently, and there was a man there, waiting on his vehicle with his son, who had brought in a brown and white pit bull that apparently had pups quite recently (the mechanic didn’t mind, he is a pit bull enthusiast himself, he has a brindle pit bull pup that he brings to the office sometimes). The dog ran right up to me, and I started petting it.
The father had said that he had just gotten her that week from a shelter, and she was actually due to be put down the next day due to overcrowding. He said that the shelter had told him that the people who had brought her to the shelter had convince the owner to give her up to them, the man that owned her was running an amateur/small scale "puppy mill" operation, and since she already had quite a few pups, they were worried about what would happen to her (some puppy mill operators kill female dogs that have had too many pups since they are now “useless” to them).
She was about 60 pounds, and a typical pit bull is around 90-100, she hadn’t been fed well, and having so many puppies took a toll on her health as well. The father said that she had been eating constantly since he got her a week ago. From the way she acted, she was starved for attention as well, so happy to see anyone who would pay attention to her and pet her after several years of being ignored and being treated like something to be used, like a piece of furniture, perhaps she was even beaten as well.
It made me angry that such a beautiful, loving dog could be treated in such a way. It really shows someone’s lack of character and well, humanity, when they abuse an animal, or people they have power over. I’ve always been able to empathize with dogs quite a bit, and generally, they react quite well to me. I seem to understand dogs and their natural instincts better than most people. Many people make the mistake of either being fearful of dogs, or acting like they are some sort of human-animal hybrid, and expect them to act almost like they are human.
Dogs do not react very well to fear, and even if they weren’t planning to be aggressive, they soon will be in most cases. Dogs respect calm, confident people, and seem to respect large men more than other people (I suppose that helps when I am dealing with dogs, I’m 5’9, 265 pounds, and appear taller than I am because of the steel toe shoes that I often wear).
I have even had very little problems with loose dogs running about, even the ones that want to bark and growl at me. When a dog is away from it’s home, it’s actually insecure, and scared of anyone approaching it, there’s been many times where I have just told the dog to “move along”, and it takes off, or simply say nothing, and walk right past it, and it will either keep barking, but do nothing, or quietly watch as I pass by. Sometimes, a dog puts on the biggest act of pretending to be aggressive when it’s actually scared, but doesn’t want to show that. I’ve even had people act rather shocked when their dog, which doesn’t normally trust people, or can be aggressive, runs right up to me, and wants me to pet it. It’s all about knowing the natural instincts and behavior of a dog, and how to read their reactions, most of which can be easily judged by their body language, or the situation.
I actually understand dogs far better than I understand people, but that sense of knowing how to deal with dogs doesn’t always apply to small dogs (other than pugs), which I often call “yappers”. They remind me of many neurotypical people, temperamental, unpredictable, can be insecure about who they are (and overcompensate because of it), and can change their opinion of you quickly. Sometimes my normal habits of dealing with dogs just don’t work with them as well, as sometimes not at all.
I remember dealing with my sister’s
when I went to see her in northern Indiana.
are the most temperamental of all small dogs, and this one especially didn’t
like most people, and was very territorial, didn’t like people getting close to
my two nieces and my nephew. It decided it didn’t like me, and kept running
after me every time I would walk through the house (though it was scared enough
me to know better than to try and bite my leg like it does to some people).
It’s bark was more of a obnoxious screaming style noise, and it kept screaming at me every time it saw me, no matter what I was doing. I kept ignoring it, assuming that like most dogs, it would understand it was a waste of energy to try, since I didn’t care what it thought of me. I never figured that out, and kept making noise.
I was on her couch, and the
Chihuahua was on the opposite end, keeping
up it’s screaming routine, when I turned to look it at. It suddenly stopped,
and looked at me like I knew it was going to say something important. In frustration
with the constant noise, I told it “You may hate me, but you’re ugly, and
shouldn’t even be considered a dog”. From that point on, he rarely barked at
me, and acted like we were best friends.
What has been your experience with dogs? Do you understand them well, or are you afraid of them? Have you had dogs try to attack you?