Having done little to no research before obtaining a dog, the The In-Over-Their-Head Ignoramus (IOTHI) now finds themselves with a dog that they are woefully unprepared for. These individuals likely chose a dog based on appearance or on movies/books that portrayed certain breeds, and have no idea what they are actually in for. While this is never good for a particular breed of dog, sometimes through their own good nature it all works out okay*. Dogs like Golden Retrievers, Collies, and most German Shepherds show a remarkable resilience in this kind of relationship mainly due to their willingness to please no matter how stupid the request. In some of the more independent minded breeds or more sensitive (read: prone to neuroses) breeds, this relationship will consistently turn into something inside of a “Die Hard” movie, complete with explosions and heavily accented German.
It is important to note that most IOTHIs fall into one of two subtypes:
Type 1: These individuals realize soon after getting the dog that they are in over their head and step up to the challenge. These are the kinds of people, who as a breeder, you would want your puppies to go to as their second dog. Type 1 IOTHIs, upon realizing they are so far over their heads they will drown and/or be eaten by their creature, tend to take on training and socialization as a crusade.
Type 2: Oy. These are the ones you have to watch out for. These are the people that usually end up tying their dog up in the yard or surrendering it to the shelter when they can no longer deal with it. These owners are how seemingly rare breeds end up in shelters. Oddly, these are also often the repeat offenders. The Malinois was too much? Well, surely a Dutch Shepherd will work out better… only after dumping the Malinois, of course.
*The dog may be fat, under-stimulated, neurotic, bored, and untrained, but it’s probably not going to kill anyone/anything and/or be taken to be put down in a five year timespan.
While the IOTHI doesn’t seem to own a particular breed, they do own breeds that fall in to two archetypes. They either own a herding breed that requires an insane amount of excercise (while being mostly sedentary creatures themselves) or they own incredibly rare and usually aggressive breeds. We can only assume they get these breeds (usually imports) due to some inescapable language barrier where “No” means “Yes” and “completely inexperienced means “give me that one who is trying to gnaw through steel”.
Potnoodle once saw this on a late night program on NatGeo when she was like… twelve. Yet, through a simple google search she found it. At least GOOGLE a breed before you buy it , dumbass. Be sure to watch to the end for a classic IOTHI.
In reality, low. In many of their own minds, at least when they first get the dog, quite high. Thankfully, most IOTHI are humbled by their dogs pretty quickly, realizing that they have no idea what they are doing. The deciding factor in skill level over time, however, is whether they are a Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1s will step up to the challenge and increase their knowledge and skills and have a good shot at ending up being an appropriate owner, while Type 2s continue to muddle through dog ownership mostly being totally oblivious to how unskilled they are and how much they are not meeting their dog’s needs. We should also note, that there are also those IOTHIs who truly begin to believe over time that are dog experts of the highest caliber. They also aren’t shy about their “prowess”, and pass out bad advice like poop-scented business cards.
At the dog park with a ridiculously inappropriate dog. At training clubs, being avoided by all of the people with common sense. At breed specific events, gathering with the other idiots that own breeds they are ridiculously under-qualified for.
“So I shouldn’t take my Fila to the dog park?”, “I can only take my 8 month old Border Collie on a 15 minute walk per day. That should be enough, right?” “Why is my dog bred to bite livestock into submission trying to bite my ankles!”
Around the same time I got Mr. T, a neighbor (early 20s college student) came home with a German Wirehaired Pointer puppy from a local breeder. I was honestly quite shocked, because I had literally never seen this kid stumble out of his apartment any earlier than noon. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe the dog would give him a reason to rise earlier and actually leave his apartment for a reason other than scoring weed. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this guy was in way over his head, had no clue, and had no intention of getting a clue. Every time we saw them (which wasn’t a lot) the puppy was a complete spaz, who clearly wasn’t getting enough socialization, exercise, or stimulation. Apparently this kid missed the memo that said that pointers can be rather willful, are powerful and energetic, and can become bored and hard to manage without enough exercise. About 6 months after bringing home the dog, the owner made a rare appearance outside (sans dog), and informed me that he had sent the dog back to the breeder because he wouldn’t stop chewing his couch, tearing holes in the carpet, breaking things, and so on. He told me that the dog was just ‘wired wrong’, taking absolutely no responsibility for not having met the dogs needs in the slightest. I was actually relieved when he said the dog had gone back, because this kid had NO idea how to raise any dog, let alone one with high energy. I didn’t see the kid for another few months or so, which wasn’t entirely surprising, but when I did finally run into him, I was in for quite a shock. Yep, I ran into him and his new imported German Shepherd, who only responded to commands in German. Seriously. The kid carried around a notecard with all the commands on it (Platz! Platz, you dumbass!!). This dog was a whole helluva lot of animal, and I was shocked that anyone would have given him this dog in the first place, but I guess having rich parents with fat wallets will get you far these days. By the time I moved away about a year later, the dog had changed from a well-trained dog (due to pre-import training) to a complete maniac who completely ruled his owner’s life. It’s now been three years since I last saw them, but I would be incredibly surprised if he still has this dog…and not at all surprised if he is now dabbling in Tibetan Mastiffs.
Fang: Have I ever mentioned the Craigslist Fila? No? Alright then, that’s a story. Filas (or Brazilian Mastiffs for the rest of us) are not what you’d call a beginner’s dog. In fact they fall under the category of ‘Probably shouldn’t be owned by someone lacking a sugar plantation and a quirky lack of concern over human life’. These are serious serious dogs within one registry* their extreme dislike of anything they were not raised with (Called ojeriza) has been likened to genetic mental illness. It’s xenophobia with teeth. So, you ask yourself, why one earth wouldn’t I want one of these actually man-eaters on my cul de sac? I really hate the neighbor kids on my lawn. The mail-lady has been gaining weight recently and a fast jog would do her some good. I’ve always wanted to see a pony-sized dent in my neighbor’s BMW when he blocks me in. To even be aware of this would require research, and in the case of **Pooper, that was clearly not the case.
I am not ashamed to admit I tend to read Craigslist. As a hobby it beats accordion and I can usually find things to mock on the blog. I did, however, in the ‘Pets’ section notice a post which caught my eye. I’ll save you the amazing details but basically these people were in search of the man who sold them a Fila off of the aforementioned website. I filed this information away in my head like a good little weirdo and thought nothing more of it. A month later my boss got a phone call about a dog who was creating issues at home. It was… you guessed it, a Fila! I of course was ridiculously excited. My taste for potential mayhem is only outpaced by my love of Indian food and this situation had the potential to be better than Naan (No, it didn’t. Nothing is better than naan). I begged to tag along and was appeased and the entire ride to the client’s house had me bouncing in my seat. The first question out of my mouth to these haggard people of course was where they got the dog. “Craigslist” was their somewhat embarrassed reply. They had picked up the puppy in a parking lot after reading roughly five words about the whole transaction. “Protective” “Good with kids” “$250”. Pooper of course was kind of a back-yard-bred breed typical dog. He was knocking over strange kids who came to visit and growling in their face. He was running across the street to “greet” the neighbor with barking, growling and some more charging for good measure. He also pulled on the leash which was neither here nor there.
At some point they at least had the grace to look embarrassed admitting they had finally read about the breed on ‘the Google’ and were shocked at what they’re acquired. After the training session we have heard from them periodically. Pooper luckily seems to be a mild-mannered if still rude dog and he’s missed the extremes popular in his breed. His owners are what I’d call a Type 1.5. Still totally over their head but not into the training enough to really commit, but Pooper’s generally stupid nature has given them that leeway.
*The sketchy registry where a dog can’t be registered as an adult unless it actually tries to eat a judge.
**It’s not even to protect the owners. The dog was really just a shitter. Also his name rhymes with Pooper. I’ll give you one guess.
Potnoodle: My local feed-store is a pretty nifty place. Self serve dog wash, western wear, good quality dog food, and everything in between. It also allows the employees to bring their well behaved dogs to work. There was a girl that worked there that had a really nice little terrier mix that came to work with her every day. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel safe when she locked up at night so she decided to buy a Giant Schnauzer. It was a lovely little puppy, then it hit it’s teen years. She had decided to do some “personal protection” training with a local trainer who … isn’t the best. After the third time her Giant Schnauzer completed an unprompted bark and hold on someone trying on wranglers in the dressing room… she was fired.
Do you know any In-Over-Their-Head-Ignoramuses? Anyone care to own up to being one? Share below!