MAN’S BEST FRIEND

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Yesterday in Toronto, a man walking a friend’s two pit bulls was savagely mauled by the dogs and doctors are fighting to save his arms and legs. Bystanders and police fought the two animals and it took 16 shots to finally kill them.
As expected, the papers and radiowaves are full of calls for the banning of breeds like this. I’m not so sure that’s the answer.
I’ve lived with dogs all my life except for the last few years. Our last two were put to sleep after painful illnesses and it was very hard on us. Coupled with the amount of my business travel and Jan’s reluctance to go through the heartbreak again, we’ve decided to stick with the cats who we love dearly. But I miss the companionship of a dog.
The dog may not be the smartest of the domesticated animals but it has a few things going for it.
The first is blind confidence in the owner. Whatever the master wants, the dog will deliver or die trying. The second is empathy. No other animal is so attuned to the feelings of those it lives with. I’ve come home from terrible days and found liquid eyes at the front door that already know that there will be no wrestling tonight and that all I want is a quiet sounding board. On the other hand, I’ve had a dog wild with excitement greet me because he knows that tonight will be filled with play and laughter.
A cat knows these things as well but their natural aloofness demands that they respond with quiet indifference. I know that’s a generalization but it’s certainly my experience and I don’t hold it against them.
So when I see news reports of dog attacks, the first thing that goes through my mind is “what about the owner?”. Certainly the breeding of a dog will make a some determination of their attitude. What I will not accept is the notion that any dog is “born bad” just as I would not accept that in a person.
We’ve all seen people, usually males, strutting down the street with a pit bull or some other “agressive” breed. The dog is outfitted with a spiked collar and is straining against a leather leash that would look more at home hanging off a barber’s chair in the 1930s just waiting for the straight razor in need of stroping. Who picked out that collar? Not the dog. If the Hummer is the compensation for a rich man’s penile shortcomings then the Pit Bull or the Rotweiler is the poor man’s alternative.
I know I’m tarring everyone who owns these dogs with a very wide brush and I apolgize to those loving owners who have superbly trained gentle giants. Unfortunately, they are in the minority.
Our last dog, Misha, was a husky-Heinz 57 cross who we got from the pound. For his entire life he was a handful and we had numerous occasions to wonder what had happened to him before we picked out what we thought would be a wonderful companion for our gentle giant, Jace, a 110 pound Collie Lab cross who was the biggest mush ever to walk the Earth. I was constantly on guard for Misha’s agressive tendencies when walking while Jace was happy to carry the leash in his mouth and walk quietly beside us. Of course he had to trot to keep up because Misha, less than half Jace’s size, was attempting to pull me bodily towards the nearest trouble. They both loved us and we loved them. We knew we were responsible for them and we took that obligation seriously.
That is the one thing that seems to be missing in these stories of vicious unprovoked attacks. Are these dogs truly evil or are they living the life demanded of them?
Don’t ban the breed, concentrate who is breeding and buying them. Are they competent? Are THEY agressive and explosive? Shut down the puppy mills and the dog fights. We made them the way they are. They shouldn’t suffer for our stupidity.

15 thoughts on “MAN’S BEST FRIEND

  1. I’ve met several pit bulls which are sweet as pie (Rottweilers also). You have to know what you are getting into with every breed. Research, research; for our first family dog we chose a basset hound. Sloppy, but easy and gentle. What my babies did to that dog!!! But he doesn’t even bother the birds that flock about him.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your dogs; we have had to put our cat to sleep because of cancer, a few years before we moved here. It hurt so bad.

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