In case you haven’t heard, an Alaskan Malamute killed a 6 day old baby in Wales this week. The dad had brought the dog home from the pub several months earlier because someone said they were going to get rid of it.
This news makes me incredibly sad. It also makes me painfully aware that the breed may soon be as demonized as the Pit Bull.
But humans also carry some responsibility for this tragedy. What with your fanciful ideas about dogs and such.
So at the risk of upsetting some of my readers, let me state what should be obvious to each of you.
I don’t care how many dresses or bow ties or hats you put on them, dogs are not human children. You can call them your baby and refer to yourself as mommy or daddy, but they are dogs. And as a dog, they will act in ways that dogs do. Clothing does not transform behavior. Only training will do that.
If you’re going to live with dogs, you should at least learn about dog behavior and interactions. Cute little puppies grow into big, strong dogs. They chew things. They dig holes. They hump pillows. You need to know why they do these things, and what can be done to stop that type of behavior. You also need to understand pack behavior.
Young children should NEVER be left alone with a dog. I don’t care how wonderful your dog is, there is the potential for a child to be hurt. Children that cannot defend themselves can be seriously hurt by even a little dog who thinks it is playing. And children who have not yet learned how to interact with dogs can unwittingly bring on a bite.
If you don’t know a dog, then introductions are in order. This is especially true if you’re on the dog’s territory. Allow the dog to sniff you. Don’t smile or make eye contact with a dog who is upset or barking at you. Let the wagging tail give you the all clear signal.
When we lived in Tennessee, I took Rumpy to the dog park one morning. Only one other dog was there- a rottweiler. They played together for a while, then a man came up with his small dog and young child. And what did that idiot do? He led the little dog into the big dog area and allowed the child to walk in with food in her hand, even though it was clearly posted that young children were not allowed in the park. That could have ended in tragedy, but fortunately the only thing injured was a toaster pastry.
I don’t care how well you think your dog behaves, he or she should not be roaming the neighborhood off-leash. Again, people who don’t know how to interact with dogs could cause your dog to act in a way he or she never would around you. Oh, and if the law says the dog must be on a leash, put the dog on a leash!
It’s time to stop demonizing Animal Control Services. I know, no one wants a dog or cat to die, but let’s face it, millions do. Animals should not be pawned off on another or brought home because you’re afraid of what will happen to them if they’re surrendered, especially if you know nothing about the breed.
Dogs are wonderful creatures that bring untold joy into the lives of humans. But dogs require responsible behavior from humans. So don’t let your dog’s normal actions lead to tragedy for another. Because it will be your dog that pays. And you may, as well.