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Respecting Dogs

When I was three or four years old, and visiting some friends with my parents, I went tearing through their house and ran over their elderly Golden Retriever. As my mother tells it, I stomped right in the middle of the old dog’s belly, and instead of growling or snapping at me, she stood up and started licking me. That was the moment when my mother fell in love with Golden Retrievers. She has been breeding a wonderful line since I was a teenager. Her dogs are bred specifically for their temperament, and for their quality as reliably excellent family dogs.

Growing up, I was never afraid of dogs of any kind. I could wrangle two hundred pound strays in our neighborhood that animal control was afraid to come and pick up. My one hundred and twenty pound mastiff and shepherd mix passed away last year. People were scared to death of that dog at the sight of him, but that dog never scared me for a moment. I have developed a fear of dogs however, as I have gotten older. I think that it has more specifically to do with the fact that I am a mother and that I worry for my kids. If I were going to develop a fear for myself, it should have been after any of the four times that my grandfather’s shepherds bit me (they were watchdogs and were never around children, my parents should not have let me anywhere near them), or the time that I got bitten in the face by a pit (its owner was an absolute asshole and kept pushing it into the water at a local park, I stupidly tried to help it when it was scared). The fear didn’t develop at those points though. I finally became afraid when I realized that I walk around the neighborhood with my kids, and what if a dog comes charging at us? I have started carrying pepper spray because of dogs, and not because of people.

We have one of my mother’s dogs. I have three children, and she is absolutely perfect for our family. I believe strongly in animal rescue, I also believe however, that when it comes to small children it is very important to know the breed that you are putting into a situation with your kids. When breeds mix, the dog can end up with any characteristic of any of the breeds that are in the mix. If the breeds in the mix are unknown, it cannot be determined what characteristics the dog will have, and whether or not it is responsible to put the animal in situations with children. Pit bulls for example, are not even a breed, so you can never know exactly what to expect out of them. This is the reason that we meet people who swear that their pit is the most lovely, sweet, docile animal in the world. This dog is showing characteristics of the bulldog part of their mix rather than the terrier traits in their mix. This is the reason that the AKC doesn’t even acknowledge the pit bull. This is because the dogs are all mixtures of breeds and their expected traits cannot be anticipated. The AKC acknowledges the Rottweiler, and if you read a book on the dogs, you will not find that book claiming that they are good dogs for families with small children. That is the label for a Golden Retriever, because honestly, I doubt that our golden would even defend herself, even if she were being attacked; this is a quality that makes a dog good with small children.

Little breeds specifically, get upset and nervous around children. They are distrustful of the speeds at which kids move and the noises that they make. When you take a little dog like a Boston Terrier and mix it with the likes of an enormous Cane Corso, you are creating a possibly catastrophic incident when you expose this dog to children. Although I have massive respect for people who are willing to take in these dogs and house them responsibly, I see a lot of irresponsibility going on when it comes to the whole campaign to get the public to see these animals as totally and completely loveable. When shelters are adopting these animals out to families with little kids; it is pretty damn irresponsible. When people are walking them to the elementary school to pick up their kids, when hundreds of children are running around screaming; it is seriously irresponsible. If I had my big guy today, I would not be walking him into large groups of people, it is disrespectful because people would be afraid of him, I wouldn’t really need to prove to the world what a perfectly well behaved dog a mastiff shepherd mix can be…I shouldn’t need to.

The bottom line is that it is all about the owner. I don’t blame dogs who have unpredictable characteristics for being that way; I blame the people who bred them in the first place. I don’t blame the dogs when they attack people; I blame their owners who didn’t properly research the breed or breeds that they were bringing into their home, or use any common sense in consideration to who and what they were exposing to their dog. We all know that there are plenty of people in our society who don’t use a lot of common sense all of the time. Well, no one is telling them that they can’t own dogs, and unfortunately it is the rest of us who have to be on watch because of their irresponsibility. Do not trust your children or your dogs around other dogs when you do not know their owners. Regardless of breed, an irresponsible owner can make for a very dangerous dog.


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