SUMMARY: Responding to strangers in the Real World.
Reading posts on three other blogs (Days of Speed, Agility Nerd, dog-li-ness) about encounters with less clueful people and their dogs, I am reminded of a recent incident involving mere humans and not even dogs at all, except mine.
I've always been irritated by the first question that many people say upon seeing my dogs: "Do your dogs bite?" Are they planning on attacking me and want to know whether they're safe to do so? Are they planning on attacking my dogs? Do they think I'm walking my killer dogs around on leash and am planning on releasing them suddenly as soon as I espy a likely looking human victim?
For years, I've just said, "No," because none of my dogs ever bit anyone for any reason, except Jake, whose first reaction when someone stepped on his tail (which was often) or crowded in closely to him in a very confined area was to whip around and grab the nearest ankle. He broke the skin a couple of times when we first got him. We really worked hard on adjusting that tendency, but he never completely got over it.
And "No" seemed like a better answer for publicity purposes in a world where dogs seem to be more vilified and more excluded every year. Especially after the well-publicized Preso Canario murders (according to the trial verdicts) up in San Francisco a few years back. I didn't want complete strangers and non-dog people to continue thinking first thing that what dogs do is bite.
Except that somewhere in the last recent years I decided that honesty is a better policy. Because I've decided that I'd rather have people be cautious around dogs they don't know (and I'd rather be cautious around people I don't know) and the hell with good publicity. Last week I went for a walk around a shopping center. Because I was there. And it's good practice for Boost to be exposed to unfamiliar noises, sights, and smells. And it's a lovely thing for people who like dogs, because my dogs love meeting people. But one of a couple of guys hanging out by a lightpost as I approached said, first thing, "Do those dogs bite?"
|Scared of these cutey wootey widdle baby puppy toofers?|
And it's true--all dogs bite given the proper provocation. It's what they do. They don't have fists to hit with; they can't speak English to tell someone to back off; they don't understand the world in the same way that we do to be able to analyze whether there's really a threat that they need to respond to quickly and violently.
I'm much more agreeable with people who ask, "May I pet your dogs?" With Jake, if a small child was involved, I'd have to say, "No, sorry, he doesn't like children." But now, with these dogs, "Sure!" I say. "They'd love it!"