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That Bites the Big One

11 Jan

When a dog bites, we often hear, “no one ever saw it coming.” Unfortunately, in many of these cases, a professional (or even just a dog owner with an ounce of common sense and access to the internet) could have seen it a mile away if they were given the chance.

Back off, bitch.

 

We’ve all seen those “cute” viral videos where a baby steals a cookie from a dog or some asshat repeatedly tries to take a dog’s bone while some other jackhole giggles incessantly in the  background.  If you’re like us (and we hope you are), you find yourself rolling your eyes and questioning the future of humanity when you see videos like that.

And why you should be sterilized.

And why you should be sterilized.

 

 

There are some pretty well-documented warning signs of a dog bite, so anyone who owns a dog (or is around dogs since it’s naive to think you can trust random Joe dog owner to read their own dog’s behavior accurately) should make an effort to learn even the most basics of dog body language.  It’s also important to note that each dog has a unique “dialect” when it comes to warning signs, so the phrase “know thy dog” is also of importance here.  And if you know what triggers your dog or what has led to a bite in the past, please god, manage the shit of any situation in which you think your dog might bite again.  It’s one thing to be naive about dog body language and behavior, but it’s another to be willfully ignorant and/or dismissive.

 

To me pay attention, you will. Hrmmm.

 

Here’s the thing.  Dogs rarely bite without any warning.  There’s almost always a warning.  You just didn’t see it.   When someone says that “there was no warning” before a bite, what they are really saying is, “I wasn’t paying enough attention because I was engrossed in level 158 of Candy Crush” or “I didn’t know enough to see the signals the dogs was sending that he was uncomfortable”.   We get it, dog body language can be hard to read, especially for novice owners and bites can happen very fast, but please for all that is good and holy, don’t say that there was no warming.  Instead, do yourself a favor and ask how you missed the warning and how you can catch it the next time.  Throughout the day, your dog is giving you repeated status updates (Just like that annoying friend on Facebook  who wants you to know about their sudden rash and what they made for dinner), so do yourself a favor and pay attention.

Or maybe you just weren’t hugged enough as a child.

 

“He’s just protective”: Freakshows and the people who love them problematically.

14 Sep

We started this article last summer in fact when Fang and Potnoodle went on another edition of “Grand Dogshow Adventure™” and infringed upon the hospitality of friends in another state because being equal parts poor, annoyed with your work circumstances, and willing to make others uncomfortable opens up your bunking-in options dramatically. Extensive driving, however did leave much time for article discussion (Despite not actually putting it all together until a year later) and we’re going to hit on one that we’d begun and stalled on previously, the tricky issue of “protective” dogs who we all know aren’t actually protective.

We air quote whatever you say.

We’ve all seen it.  Hell, it’s been so romanticized and stuffed down our throats that it’s really hard to get around.   What are we talking about? The Perfect Dog. From Rin Tin Tin to Lassie, the perfect dog comes home not only pre-trained, single-mindedly bonded to its owner, psychic,  perfectly coiffed without a brush ever having touched its luscious locks, kid-socialized and a completely savage vicious creature to any man or beast who threatens its owner. Sound familiar?

Snuggles!

Snuggles!

Much like the discovery that your closet can’t actually transport you to Narnia (So much for multifunctional, IKEA, you jerks) most of us get over this idea sometime between puberty and getting our first dogs. While these people are a pain in the ass, the belief that their dog can do no wrong is considerably less irritating than their counterparts, the freakshow enablers. This small subset of the population believe erroneously their special snowflake is a delicate flower of Persia who must be coddled, cuddled and soothed in perpetuity because “He’s a rescue!” or “He’s just a normal <insert breed here>” and any and all bad behavior is excused on that basis from now until the end of eternity.

 

Delicate God Damn it

Delicate God Damn it!

 

To those people, YOU ARE RUINING YOUR DOG(S) AND YOU NEED TO STOP IT RIGHT NOW! JUST STOP! Tssssch!

tsst

Let’s look at the reality here. The actual number of truly physically abused dogs in a given population (And we mean actually abused, not just fed Beneful and denied a custom no-pull harness) is very small. Totally unsocialized, under-stimulated and undervalued? Absolutely. Physically abused? Unlikely. Physically abused by a man in a funny hat? Even less likely. Odds are good the dog has just never seen such a bizarrely headed man and therefore he is suspicious and someone to be feared.

I also find this terrifying… yet captivating?

This in and of itself is not particularly problematic, unusual or even worrisome to most reasonable dog people. Damaged dogs? Hell, we see them weekly. Fearful, undersocialized and dogs with poor genetic temperaments are nothing new or even interesting at this point. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt with the holes in it from Snookums’ panic scramble to freedom from their leash being clipped to their collar before they ran out the door to be killed on the highway. Dogs with issues are the norm. They are not inherently the problem.

Ten of them are you, and the last three are open for suggestions.

 

Where this becomes an issue is when our inherent need to own ‘Perfection the Wonder Hound” kicks in and we begin making excuses, enabling behaviors and in some cases even encouraging these horrendously bad manners (and bad temperament) simply because the dog is damaged (Rescued/neglected etc) or too valuable to not excuse, or because no one is bleeding yet…

 

The eighteen month old German Shepherd cowering between your legs and growling at your vet IS NOT PROTECTING YOU.

Why would I hide? I’m bad-ass.

The Bichon you physically cannot leash because he will bite your hand IS NOT JUST CRABBY.

Okay, well maybe in this case a nasty one is normal.

The confident herding breed adult puddled (literally and/or figuratively) on the ground when a judge attempts a cursory exam, or even better, whips around to nail them because “He touched me delicately with kind hands” IS NOT NORMAL FOR THE BREED.

He’s going to what to my what?

The Shih Tzu barking and carrying on with darting nips to ankles which draw blood IS NOT JUST PLAYING.

“I’m going to drain your blood!”

These are all serious behavior and dare we say, temperament issues that need to be dealt with and/or locked away and never reproduced. How you deal with them is a many wondrous thing and there are literally dozens of options from the asinine to amazingly effective but what matters is that you deal with them. We don’t accept your excuses* and you shouldn’t either.

 

You have a freak or a dog who acts like a freak sometimes? B.F.D. The next time you want to explain away their behavior, pause and reflect:
1) Are you explaining the behavior to someone who is in some way helping you fix the issue?
2) Are you making vast generalizations on breed temperament to explain why you don’t have an issue and everyone who thinks you do has the problem?
3) Yelling at someone who dares toddle by and disturb your snowflake’s forty foot perimeter bubble of not having an ever-loving shit fit?
4) Are you continually setting your dog up to fail with environments they cannot possibly enjoy or succeed in just to prove to yourself they are “totally fine” while telling those around you that this is normal and okay?

If you answered “Yes” to anything other than 1, we need you to go back up to the top and read all the way through again then think about it then read it again.

So here’s the breakdown, kids. Kooky, weird, spooky freakshow dogs are not inherently unusual, weird, or anything to be particularly afraid of.  It happens. It sucks. It means a lot more work for you, but… they can still in most cases have relatively obedient and normal lives. As long as you can accept that you do in fact have a problem and are willing to deal with it you’re solidly on the right track. If you pretend you don’t have a problem or have somehow contracted the erroneous belief that everyone else is wrong, well then we’re going to have issues, and more problematically your dogs are going to have issues… forever. Don’t be that owner who we crate away from and all tacitly try to avoid coming into contact with because your dog is terrible and you are clueless and do dumb stuff with him. Just don’t.

We did ourselves a favor.

*And yes, sometimes situations with freaks are unavoidable but as long as you’re working on it we really don’t judge.

No Cookie for You: You don’t get a medal for failing

23 Jul

So we’re going to tell you a story.

Yes, yes it is.

Once upon a time there was a rescue puppy. A well-meaning rescuer adopted said puppy and from the beginning there were problems. Nearly a decade, multiple attacks on adults, children and other dogs and a total lack of any successfully incorporated management later, and he was euthanized after attacking an octogenarian. But don’t worry because the rescuer saved him from himself. The, incredibly sanctimonious, end.

After hearing this story our heads just explodes into what we can only describe as rage confetti. In the near decade this person had “tried everything” but he was great at home so…

What the Actual Fuck?

The most irritating part of any of this isn’t even that the dog was so amazingly mismanaged that he had to be put down, it’s that he wasn’t put down sooner. We here at TDS are big believers in the realities of rescues;  you cannot and 100% should not save them all. However, if you make the decision to save one of these dogs ( who in most other circumstances should be put down), you are committing to a literal lifetime of management–not shitty half-assed management, but real, rigorous, consistent and safe handling of a dog who is a risk to everyone around them.

This is the kind of management that sucks. It’s inconvenient. It’s restrictive in the extreme. It means that you can’t just do what you want with your dog when you want to and barriers and precautions for safety are always at the forefront. It means muzzles, cancelled vacations, and a kennel run, and signage and crating and walking at non-busy times. It means, yes Virginia, there is the all important quality of life question. He bit multiple people through a muzzle? That’s quite a trick. He chased people down the driveway? That’s mighty hard to do in a crate inside the house. That quality of life was not even an issue until this far along tells us that whatever bullshit management was in place was not enough and clearly not well executed. We know people with extremely unstable dogs and their management regimes are unreal and well-beyond what most households should or can undertake. Their primary concerns are safety followed shortly thereafter by well-being. When the two can no longer be balanced, they do the right thing. A freak-accident in their carefully managed home turns into a nightmare. They are heartbroken, and rightfully so, when they must do the right thing for them. No one else was ever in danger of their dog since their vigilance with strangers never faltered but unstable is unstable. Even with restrictions in place, a single error and you can’t go back to how it was before.

So here’s some real talk. You don’t get a medal for failing (unless you are involved in youth sports or science fairs). You don’t get cookies or head-pats for consistently and thoroughly putting others at risk because he didn’t chew shit in your house and was sweet at home (You know other than the raging instability and bite history ). Multiple bites on multiple people is not okay. Poor management of a dog with multiple bites on multiple people is unacceptable on every single level. You failed every person and dog that was bitten after the first time with poor management which should have been a clue after the second, third, hell even fourth bites. We’re  truly sorry that you are sad and blaming yourself, but before you attempt to rescue yet another sad-sack rescue nightmare, take these words into consideration.

Saving the unsaveable doesn’t earn you extra points. There is no special place in heaven for people who keep dogs who attack children (and if there is we don’t think it’s the nice kind of special) and you’re not getting any kind of extra karmic bump for being inconvenienced by proper management. Keeping a truly dangerous dog alive is a selfish choice in 100% of all situations but it doesn’t have to be a bad choice if it’s done well.

So we guess what we’re saying is this: If you’re going to be selfish. do it right. If you can’t or won’t do it right, then you don’t need to have that dog and more importantly, that dog doesn’t need you.  Are you willing to put your life on hold for one dog who will likely never be safe in everyday situations? Are you willing to dramatically alter every interaction you could ever expose this dog to? Are you willing to spend years hunting for work-arounds, long-term behavior management techniques, trainers and behaviorists with a clue and the money that flows out of your wallet with each new attempt and in many cases failure? It is a hard choice and making that choice “to save” or not is heartbreaking, but ultimately it comes down to reality. If there is no safety net (Your dog’s breeder or rescue; Do not cut them out of any temperament-related decisions. It’s info they need to have)  it is up to you, your dog’s advocate to make the hard choice.

The End.

An open letter….

23 Feb

Dear People who tell their ill-behaved small dog,  “Oh, don’t mess with that dog, he will eat you alive !” when you pass by us on a walk,

I’m afraid that one more comment or joke about how my dog could eat/kill/maim your dog will send me over the edge.  Truly, I might lose my shit.  You know who you are–that  person who with a yappy out-of-control little dog lunging at the end of his leash and barking frenetically at us while my dog walks calmly by.   I’m not quite sure what about my chill dog who literally hasn’t even acknowledged your dog’s existence screams “I’m gonna eatcha!”, but alas, the words seem to spew of your mouth with some regularity.

I’m pretty sure my dog hasn’t gotten into them.

 

Just because my dog is large, or of a certain breed, does not mean that he is looking at your precious pup like a slab of delicious bacon.  In fact, I’m actually the one trying to get away from your miniature hell-beast before it nips my big guy’s ankles.   Here’s the thing–my dog really doesn’t care about your dog, and frankly, even if he did, I’m responsible enough to make sure he doesn’t defend himself from your dog’s frantic behavior.

Maybe you should try it.

 

Look, I am sure some of you are joking when you say such things, but I’m pretty sure many of you aren’t.  Either way, it is super annoying and really not that funny.  If it were my dog misbehaving on the end of the leash and releasing the kraken on your dog, I am pretty sure you would be upset and wouldn’t find it funny, so I’m not entirely sure why I am supposed to laugh at your lame joke.

 

If you are someone who has said something like this before, please just stop.  Instead of laughing at the situation or making some lame comment, might I suggest (gasp) actually working with your dog to curb him of his bad behavior?  Ill-behaved dogs of any size are not cute, and neither are their owners who make light of it.

Even Grumpy Cat agrees.

 

Signed,

BusyBee

 

 

Throat Punch…Monday? A mini-rant by BusyBee

24 Nov

Something happens when you are in your 30s and single (other than begrudgingly joining online dating sites to appease your mother).  People start to say really stupid shit to you about your personal life.   While much of it is not dog-related (think, “What is someone like you still doing being single? or “You better hurry up!”), there are at least two frequent dog-related comments that I’ve had said to me that fuel my hate-fire.  To save you from looking like an assmarmot in the future, please don’t ever utter one of the following:

 

Say it. I dare you.

 

 

1. “Do you think you’re single because you are so obsessed with your dog?”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard something along these lines I could hire someone to throat punch all the idiots who say this shit.  Seriously, who says this and thinks it’s a good or helpful thing?  I’d rather be single and happy with my dog than stuck with someone who thinks that my love for my dog is abnormal.   If a would-be suitor thinks that posting multiple photos of my dog sleeping on my Facebook wall or having his photo as my iPhone background is a turn-off, then so be it.   Any guy I date will either have to hop on the crazy train with me or at least understand and appreciate my devotion to my dog.   Bonus points if he’s willing to join me in the silly songs I sometimes sing to Mr. T.

 

2. “You must not have kids”

Let’s be clear here.  Just because I don’t currently have a child does not make me less of a woman or less of a human.  Whether or not I choose to have children in the future is frankly none of your business and in no way related to my love for dogs.  Many of my friends have human kids AND dogs and both are much loved members of the family.  Do yourself a favor and don’t assume that dog-loving women who have not yet popped a baby out of their loins simply love our dogs so much because we don’t have a human baby to dote on.   I am not trying to fill some childless hole in my heart by showering my dog with love and affection.  Frankly, if anything, should I choose to have a child down the line, I’ll be a damn good mother  based on what I learned from my dog.

And that’s perfectly ok

 

Any other inane comments you’ve gotten that you like to share?  Want to call me a crazy dog lady?  Go right ahead!

 

Sarah McLachlan, this is all your fault: A rant by BusyBee

29 Aug

Volunteering at my local city shelter as an adoption assistant, I work in the kennels while they are open to the public and work with people to find the right dog.  A big part of this includes answering questions.  I’ve been asked weird things (“Will his penis get bigger?”), inappropriate things, (“Can I let my kid pull on his ears and see how he does?”), and downright infuriating things, (“How much do you think it would be to crop that dog’s ears?”).  But at least once per shift, I get asked,  “Was he abused?”   This question, although well-meaning, make me want to pull my hair out.   Why? Because the assumption that all dogs who end up in shelters are “damaged” goods is a harmful notion.

We’ve all met these people, right?  The people that say my dog is afraid of *fill in the blank*, so I think he was abused.”  Fill in the blank with: teenagers, men, women, loud noises, people with hats, people without hats, people in pink…. you get the idea.   I’ve also literally seen people “test” a dog at the shelter by lifting their arm as if to hit the dog to see if he reacts. When the dog inevitably flinches, the potential adopter usually responds by saying something like, “Oh sad, someone used to hit him.”  I haven’t tried it (probably bad form for a city volunteer), but I often want to throw a punch at their throat and see if they flinch.

There is no disputing that horrible cases of abuse are discovered every day. We’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures (thank you, Sarah McLachlan). And, yes,  many of these animals end up in shelters. So there is a possibility that your shy or reactive dog could have been abused before you adopted him or her.  That being said,  I can literally count on my hands the number of dogs we’ve had in the four years I’ve been at the shelter who have come from abusive situations**.   In case you suck at math, that’s less than 10.  I’ve often found that people interpret shy behavior, skittishness, or anxiety as signs of an abusive past.  More likely than not, it’s due to shelter stress or undersocialization.   The truth is, most dogs in shelters have never been abused, but were surrendered because their owner had no time for them, got married, had a baby, can no longer afford the dog due to the recession, had issues with their landlord, etc etc etc.  If your adopted dog is skittish around certain people or situations, chances are he was simply undersocialized rather than being abused. Lots of shelter/rescued dogs have simply not dealt with many of the experiences that we take for granted.

While it may seem somewhat harmless for people to assume that most shelter dogs have been abused, this can be harmful in two ways.  First, it may prevent people from adopting perfectly lovely animals because they don’t want to deal with the aftermath of this imagined abuse.  Secondly, many owners use their pets’ imagined past as an excuse for their present behavior. If a dog exhibits fearful behavior towards a man, it might be dismissed as being a result of his past abuse, which in turn makes it less likely that people will actually work on the issue at hand. Where does this come from?  Probably because the whole concept of adopting a dog has become a “save the world” crusade. We are bombarded with images (yes Sarah McLachlan, I’m looking at you again) of abused, pathetic looking dogs now living in shelters, waiting to be saved and loved. This has inadvertently created the image that dogs need time and a lot of comforting because of the background or history that they are coming from and that most shelter dogs are abused. It creates the impression that rules, training and  structure can be cast aside for later, perhaps “when the dog is ready for it”. The truth of the matter is, no matter what your dog’s background is, you have to focus on the present and not dwell on his past, real or imagined.

 

**And as an aside, the abused dogs I have met at the shelter?  A majority of them have been among the most loving and forgiving.

I’m not an idiot so don’t treat me like one. A.K.A Why must some vets be dicks?

17 Jul

As true snobs, we love our vets. Who else is as interested in our dogs’ poop as we are? Most vets are awesome people doing a relatively thankless job for very little reward other than maybe not getting anal-glands squirted on them occasionally.

It is a pretty good reason to not wear that ugly Bridesmaid’s dress.

 

There are however exceptions to the rule and we’re going to bitch about them.

 

I, Potnoodle, am going to start off with a story of the event that kicked off this blog entry. First, you must know a little back story. I work for a person who owns dogs. Sometimes I am responsible for the care of those dogs. Recently, my boss has been ill so I’ve been more responsible. I work Monday through Friday. I came in yesterday morning to find a slightly smelly crate. No big deal, loose stool happens. It was bath day anyway. As the day went on, I noticed the dog responsible for the loose stool was a little lethargic. OK. I alerted my boss and my boss’s spouse and gave a dose of flagyl that the regular vet has prescribed for emergency loose-stool issues (because what doesn’t that fix, right?) This morning (Tuesday) I came in to  no accident but a very lethargic dog that didn’t want to eat. Off to the vet we go, after consulting with my boss. I knew shit was going down hill when I arrived and realized which vet was on duty. The normal vet is an older guy, up on the latest info but not unwilling to go olds-school if needed. He’s got a great personality and listens to what the owner has to say. And then there’s the younger guy. He’s arrogant, to say the least.  Also, I’m pretty sure he’s a backyard breeder of Caucasian Ovcharkas… but that’s off topic.

Anyway, I got there and described the dog’s symptoms, what had been going on, and his instant reaction is “Parvo.” Which, okay. It’s that time of year.  Maybe if I had just picked this dog up at the shelter or  from some byb. However, that is not the situation here. The dog hadn’t even been to a show recently and she’s not a fucking puppy. So, my reaction is. “Well, no vomit and it doesn’t really smell like Parvo to me.”

“Well, it does to me.” he says, before running a barrage of tests and telling me how traumatic Parvo is. At this point, he’s convinced me. I mean, he’s a vet right? He surely wouldn’t go on a rant about parvo if the dog wasn’t extremely likely to have parvo…. right? I’m ready to burn my clothes, bleach the house… all of it. After an excruciating wait, he breezes back in the room and doesn’t even mention parvo. Starts going over results with me.

“So wait, it isn’t parvo?”

“No, but it might be A, B, or C”

DUDE. I was having a fucking panic attack. You can’t just come back in and start prattling about fluids and bacteria in the gut.  All these scare tactics because I gave the dog a flagyl … the exact thing you’re going to give the dog in the back room as soon as I leave? What a bag of dicks. A bag of dicks that sent the dog home… with flagyl, two days later. To clarify, I have no issue with the man treating the dog and doing whatever is needed. That’s why I brought her in. I do have issue with the condescension.

 

No work dog photos allowed...so have a Poodle

No work dog photos allowed…so have a Poodle

Fang:
When I moved to Florida against my will and kicking and screaming, I kept my inherited dogs with the vet they had been with previously. Why not? They have emergency services, a decent enough pile of clinicians and can always fit you in even if it will take three hours. Now in this practice there were about 5 vets, but by sheer misfortune I always got the same one, let’s call him Assbags McGee. Dr. McGee is what one could call a pompous jackass. Questions about the effectiveness about a new Flea/Tick topical carried by the practice gleaned “Just use Frontline every two weeks, it’s the same thing” (No, it really isn’t), and over the realistic recovery time on my then elderly Jack Russell’s large lipoma removal was “I wouldn’t bother since I doubt the wound would heal but we’ll do it if you want” (Expertly not answering the question) and lastly my choice to Ivomec most months earned a lecture on how the dosing was impossible and I’d surely kill the dog with my lack of ability to do simple math. Yeah. Thanks asshole. Helpful. Anyway, lack of other local emergency options kept me there with reservation. I would very occasionally get my preferred vet there but Dr. McGee still managed to be there all the damn time. Even requesting the specific vet, the desk would screw it up half the time. An incident with Beatrice was my personal breaking point. I’ve been back twice to pick up management prescriptions for the oldest dog but have moved everyone else to my current practice and have no intention of ever returning for anything beyond maintenance on the 17 year old. As it happens the practice was recently and not very publicly sold to a conglomerate and now only Assbags McGee and his partner in shitty medicine, Bitchburga MacGuinty (Yes, the ulcer on the the bitch’s cornea is obviously the 3rd eyelid, good catch Dr. Magoo… The university vet wasn’t scratching his head over that one at all…)  is left. We now take the extra 20 minutes to go to the university run emergency clinic up the road. It’s not worth the idiocy and expense of the headache and misdiagnoses.

Sweet Bea

Sweet Bea

 

BusyBee:

When I first brought Mr. T home at 9 weeks old from the shelter, he had some minor hair loss and a rash.  A few days after having him home, I took him to a local vet down the street from us.  The vet informed me that it looked like a mild case of demodex mange and that he would need to do a scrape to confirm.  Not long after, he came back into the room and informed me that it was indeed demodex and that we could start treatment immediately.  Being a new dog owner, I agreed to his treatment plan and let him dip baby Mr. T in a Mitaban dip.  I asked the vet if there was anything to watch out for, and he assured me it was safe and not to worry.  I admit that I should have done my own research, but I was a first time dog owner and so taken aback by the diagnosis that I didn’t give it much thought.  Turns out that was a mistake.  Just a few hours later, Mr. T’s entire body was bright red and vomiting, he felt hot to the touch, and had terrible diarrhea.   I immediately called the vet who did the treatment who assured me that everything was fine and to give it time and quite frankly, talked down to me like I was some neurotic puppy owner.  At this point, I knew I had to trust my gut, so I ended up having to rush Mr. T to an emergency vet to have him treated for his severe reaction to the dip.  The vet at the ER was amazing and took the time to explain everything to me, helped me ease my guilt for not knowing better, and took excellent care of my pup.  Turns out that Mitaban dips are never recommended for puppies less than 4 months old and are usually only considered in more severe cases.  Poor pup never should have gotten dipped. After Mr. T recovered, I called the original vet office and was bounced around voicemail and vet-tech and “conveniently” was never able to actually get ahold of the vet despite trying for weeks.  When I stopped by, the receptionist was incredibly rude to me and insinuated it was my fault that my puppy had gotten so ill.   While I take some responsibility in not being a more knowledgeable consumer, it infuriates me that this vet did a risky treatment on a young puppy and never bothered to follow up or return my calls.   You sir, are an asshole and a terrible vet…or at least that is what my Yelp review said until you deleted it.

Baby Mr. T says, “I pity the fool who gives shitty care to this adorable face”

Baby Mr. T says, “I pity the fool who gives shitty care to this adorable face”

 

We have vet readers, we know. We love our vets. We trust them with our dog’s care on a regular basis. We also know that some vets get clients that come in and have already diagnosed their dogs or act like their dog is dying because it had some soft stool. WE AREN’T THOSE PEOPLE. We didn’t come in demanding meds. We came in looking for a diagnosis and we want you to take the time to explain that diagnosis. We don’t want to be a page ahead of you, we just want you to keep us on the same page and give us good care. These are our pets (And Potnoodle does love the dogs at work like her own, you only have to be Facebook friends with her to know that.) When a loved one is ill, there’s a lot of stress. All we ask is that you calmly, and without overstating or understating anything, help us understand what the fuck is going on.

But What About the Nice Dogs?

2 Jun

This might feel like we’re jumping on the bandwagon, but we’ve been discussing this on and off for weeks. First with the case of the dog that “mauled” the child in his own backyard and now lately with the dog that had its ass kicked by that cat when he tried to attack a child.

 

To get to the point we’re trying to make with this article first we need to talk about Real Dog People vs. Dog Lovers. We consider ourselves Real Dog People (you down with RDP? Yeah you know me.) Of course, we love dogs. More than we love people, most of the time. We also aren’t stupid. We know there’s a line. We know dogs, almost as much as we love them and that’s the difference between RDP and Dog Lovers. Dog Lovers LOVE dogs. They’re the people that come up and lean over a nervous dog, cooing in a baby voice and just asking to be snapped at. They’re the people that assume every undersocialized dog in a shelter was horribly abused and every slightly scarred pit type thing was a bait dog. They really do have the dog’s best interest at heart… or at least what they consider the dog’s best interest. Rather it actually benefits the dog or not remains to be seen.

 

That brings us to our point. We have a question for all the Save Mickey type folks  out there. What about the nice dogs? What about those fantastic loving dogs of all breeds and mixes that have never bitten a person, the ones who die while you tie up funds and space saving a dog that will live toothless in a concrete box for the rest of his life? Do those dogs not also deserve life?

We aren’t getting sappy here (Well, we aren’t trying to.). We’re asking a serious question. We also aren’t being inconsiderate of the dog. In fact, we’d say that we’re very much considering the happiness of these dogs, much more than those who fight to save them… only to have them stuck in a 4×6 kennel run for the rest of their lives. That’s no life for a young physically healthy dog.

 

So, naturally, the outrage over the recent lab/chow mix has us confused. In case you’ve fallen behind on your viral video watching, here’s the video.

The average person watching this video probably laughs at the cat going after the dog. Anyone dog savvy has an entirely different opinion though. To RDP, we see something disturbing. We see a dog that is quite obviously stalking a small child. This wasn’t a fear bite, this wasn’t even a guarding bite. The  child wasn’t speeding by on a bike, he wasn’t teasing the dog. He was peddling around in his own driveway and the dog clearly spotted him from quite some distance and began stalking him. This was a dog with extreme prey drive that stalked the boy, grabbed him, shook him, and attempted to drag him off. This is a dog with zero bite inhibition who meant serious harm to that child.

 

Now let’s talk about what the Dog Lovers saw. Go peruse any story related to this and you’ll find all sort of victim blaming and discounting of the dog’s actions in the comments.  Should the dog have been confined?  Yep. Should it have been trained?  You betcha. Is it still a seriously scary dog even taking into account those “human” elements?  Absolutely.  And yet, there are hordes of Dog Lovers begging the SPCA to save this dog and rehab him, even offering their own hard-earned money for his continued care. It should be noted that in this case, the Bakersfield SPCA ended up euthanizing the dog (the right choice, in our opinion) despite the public pressure to save him.

 

So, again, we have to pose the question.  When there are so many truly wonderful, truly adoptable dogs in shelters that are euthanized every day because of lack of space or money, why are so many “rescue” people focusing on saving this one animal?  We can’t save them all, but we fail to see why we should save one that poses a serious safety risk at the expense of throngs of others who ended up in shelters through no fault of their own. And even if we could save them all, should we? As animal lovers should we really be warehousing these dogs for an indefinite fate in a shelter with public funds?  While truly damaged and dangerous dogs are few and far between, they do exist, and even if this were just poor socialization and management, the damage has already been done. It’s a dangerous precedent when the indignation over the justifiable euthanasia of a dog who’s launched an unprovoked attack on a child garners more offers for adoption and help than the friendly dog a few kennels over. Where is the outrage when that dog gets euthanized? And the stable friendly dog in the kennel next to that one? And the next one? Where are the candlelight vigils and Facebook campaigns? How many spaces can dangerous dogs take up in shelters? What happens when there’s no space for any stable dogs, do we open another shelter? Is this really what animal rescue will come down to? We sure hope not.

*It is worth noting, since the time this article was stated, the Lab/Chow mix has been euthanized. Kudos to that shelter. Let’s hope it sets a precedent.

“My dog has never done that before”….

22 Mar

Today’s Public Service Announcement is brought to you by the letter “S”, as in, we really want people to stop spewing the phrase “He’s never done that before!”  Just stop.  STOP.



We’ve all heard it before, the rage inducing phrase, “He’s never done that before!”, usually following a particularly egregious display of bad dog behavior.  It seems to be the go-to phrase after a dog acts a fool and is usually in lieu of an actual apology.  When we hear this cringe-worthy phrase, we are apt to think one of two things:

 

1. While technically Sir Fluffykins has never actually shot across the sidewalk on his flexi-leash and bitten a stranger before,  his owner  was either unaware of or in denial about the obvious signals that the Fluffs has been showing.   Let’s be clear.  Dogs rarely, if ever, attack for no reason. We often misinterpret a dog attacking “out of the blue” and “without warning”‘ because we simply missed the signs.  Just because you didn’t see it doesn’t mean that your dog wasn’t giving every indication that he was about to go all Piranhaconda on a passerby.

But he WILL try to eat a passing cyclist

But he WILL try to eat a passing cyclist

 

2.  Sir Fluffykins has a canine rap-sheet longer than his shitty pedigree and the owner would rather lie about it than admit that their dog is a nuisance, or worse yet, dangerous.  

 

In the first scenario, as annoying as this phrase can be, we won’t throw too much shade at you as long as you actually acknowledge the issue and <gasp> take action to prevent you from becoming a repeat offender (see #2 above).  Ignoring the behavior or shrugging it off as a freak incident is only going to bite you in the ass (or more likely,  in someone else’s ass) later on.

And for those people who fall into category 2?  Suck it (also brought to you by the letter S). Why on earth would you continue to set your dog up for failure and allow them to repeatedly be an asshole?  There are so many things you can do to manage a dog with a history of dangerous behavior.  Does your dog go after anything with wheels?  Don’t take it to a skate park.  Does your dog dislike children?  Put the dog away when kids come over to your house. And if your dog is a known biter, manage the crap out of them, and if you must be around things that trigger your dog, there is no shame in putting him in a muzzle.  We’d much rather you walk around with a Hannibal Lecter look-alike than walk around acting like nothing is wrong biding your time before you tell someone else, yet again, that your dog has never done this before.  That shit gets around, and by the fifth time you’ve told someone in the neighborhood that your dog has never attacked another dog before, people will be on to you.  You know what happens when you piss off your whole neighborhood? People show up with pitch forks and torches. Or the HOA…..either way, don’t be that person.

 

 

**Tired of hearing this phrase? What about any of these others rage-inducing phrases we’ve covered before ?  Let us know in the comments!**

Put it back, you don’t need that! a.k.a. Picking the correct breed is important. Don’t fuck it up.

26 Nov

Every year the AKC comes out with statistics on the most popular breeds. For several years the Labrador has reigned supreme (Much to the chagrin of Labrador people in both the show and working divide) as the most commonly registered dog in the United States.

Popularity sucks.

Unsurprisingly, these statistics have very little to do with the realistic ownership pool, (e.g. people who really can handle the best and worst traits of the breed responsibly, provide adequate exercise and training, and not just let their dog run amok and terrorize the neighborhood).

Fluffy!! Stop chasing Mrs. Jones!

 

Every asshole we know with a dog they can’t or won’t manage put very little thought into their decision to own a dog let alone select an appropriate type, so we’re here to help. Before you get your dog, consider these factors, or we’ll mock you via inappropriate stick figure dramas.

He’s asking how we’ll kill him today.

 

1) Do you actually want a dog or do you want Lassie?

This is not your dog. Stop expecting your dog to be this dog.

We want you to brace yourselves. This may come as a shock. Dogs have individual personalities! We know. It surprised us too (It didn’t). While we’re glad your neighbors German Shepherd rescued a family of ducklings from being eaten by Kanye, and your childhood Collie didn’t eat your homework, but rather he did it better than you were able to, we can pretty much guarantee you that the puppy you picked from the litter is not that dog. Don’t get us wrong, there are certainly one in a million dogs (Heart dogs, usually) who know us better than we know ourselves. These dogs are made, and not born despite what everyone with their magic dog tells you.

2) What is your current energy level?

Are you a couch potato? A runner? Pro-tip, don’t get a dog made for who you are not. There is no shame in wanting to stay home and nap. If you want to sit in the house and do cross-words, get a Pug. A Border Collie will only bring you misery and bring the dog fatness and bad behavior.

Let’s be honest, you’re probably too lazy for this too.

3) Have you ever trained a dog before? To what level? No, be serious, what have you actually done?  

Saying you want a high-drive full-speed dog is all well and good but if your current pets don’t even have manners, it’s like demanding to do a heart transplant after completing that 6th grade unit on “the human body”. It’s just a dumb idea. Some breeds are ‘trainers’ breeds and some breeds are ‘pet breeds’ and most breeds fall somewhere in the middle, and even individuals of breeds can be more or less intense. Aim for what you know you can handle now, not what you’d like to handle in the future.

 

"We've handled this dog really well.  Let's move on to a Chessie!" said no one ever.

“We’ve handled this dog really well. Let’s move on to a Chessie!” said no one ever.

4) Why do you want this breed?

If “because it’s cute” is your reasoning, just go away. Really, walk away. If you can’t give a comprehensive list including the potential (Or extremely likely, depending on how carefully you pick your dog) negatives, you’ve not done your research and you need to go back to the drawing board.

Mommy, why is the kitty in the teddy bear’s mouth?

5) How many have you met in person? How many breeders have you talked to?

If your answer is “Less than one” you don’t need to get that breed. If your answer is “One”, you need to try harder. A reasonable sample size is more than three and talking to 3-5 breeders or breed enthusiasts. Posting a lone question online doesn’t count, neither do breed message boards or Facebook. Make a phone-call, write an email, or just get out and head to a dog show. It’s not that hard.

If you have to ask yahoo answers, you can’t have one.

 

6) How much time (or money) are you willing to put toward grooming?

So you think you want a Puli? Malamute? Afghan Hound? How much money do you have to groom it? None? Go away. Really. If you don’t have a good cost estimate from a local groomer, you don’t have a clue.

I have some Fiskars and a leaf-blower. I got this.

7) Once again, why do you really want this breed?

Really, why?

 

8) Are you on drugs?

Some breeds seem to require it as a prerequisite to ownership.

One of the only valid Fila owners.

 

9) Did someone laugh at you when you said you wanted said breed?

If experienced dog owners laugh when you just mention the breed name… it’s time to walk away.  In the dog world, it’s safe to assume you know nothing compared to people that have lived with the breed for years.

Wait, did you just say FIla? Excuse me while I die laughing.

 

10) Do you want this dog because it’s novel?

Sometimes breeds are rare for good reason.   Imagine a world with Presa Canarios roaming city sidewalks on the end of flexi-leashes?  Yeah.  We don’t want to think about it either.    If you insist on being a Rare Breed Braggart, at least look into a dog that you can manage using the above criteria.

Having a dog no one has heard of doesn’t make you special, it just makes you stupid.

 

If you made it through our list without running away crying and you think you may actually still want one, you… still need to do a shit ton of research. No, watching Dogs 101 doesn’t count, neither does reading the wikipedia article. Talk to breeders, talk to owners, read the literature on the breed and then, if you still think you want one, pray to the flying spaghetti monster that the breeder is willing to let you have one. Pro tip: If the breeder tries to give you one on your first visit… walk away. A good breeder of a difficult breed is just as difficult as the dogs themselves. You have to work for it.

 You’re welcome.