Monday, April 12, 2010

Just Keep Driving

Being prepared for the worst is a dog owners responsibility. It is my responsibility to everything in my power to make Rugby successful at surviving in society. That includes training him NOT to act like a little dog (which will quickly lead to his being eaten). That includes training him to be attentive enough to me to be able to call him off dangerous situations, or send him away from me for the same reasons.

On my way to work Saturday I saw the potential death of two very good looking dogs. The first was a jack russel, all white, with a harness on. The second was a boxer, also white, with a flat buckle collar on. (while I don't mind flat buckle collars, I do mind untrained dogs in flat buckle collars)

The boxer and the JRT were walking towards each other on the sidewalk, and the boxer's owner was having an increasingly hard time maintaining control over her dog. Being that the dog was not well trained enough to ignore the distraction that today took the form of a JRT, and that he was wearing a flat buckle collar - the owner had set this dog up for failure.

The JRT owner was ahead of the game only in that he recognized that the boxer posed a serious threat to his dog and had moved 4 ft over into the grass, and shortened the leash up to allow the boxer to pass. Even though he had moved over, the dog was on a harness - which as typical of dogs on harnesses - meant that the JRT was not under any sort of control either. He was at the end of the leash barking at the approaching boxer. In this way the JRT owner had also NOT set his dog up for success.

If he planned to leave the dog on the ground, the only chance the JRT had was if he quietly waited in a down-stay immedietely next to, or preferable behind the owner. By putting the dog in a harness, he took away his only available means to correct the dog for this unwanted and extremely dangerous lunging behavior.

I slowed my car almost to a stop, ready to yell at the man to pick his dog up, waiting for the events to play out. I could imagine only two scenarios if things continued the way they were going....

1) Boxer owner would lose control, and boxer would charge JRT and attack... dragging his owner along for the ride.
2) Boxer owner would mainting control untill they passed the JRT at which point the boxer would very likely back out of his collar and charge and attack the JRT... leaving his owner chasing and yelling after him.

Unfortunetely, scenario 1 was playing out before my eyes and I held my breath for the catastrophe that awaited. At the last second the man hoisted his dog above his head as the boxer drug his owner over and began to circle the man trying to get the JRT. At this point I drove away since the JRT now had his owners height at his advantage.

The whole episode made me beyond angry. Did those owners realize how close both of those dogs had gotten to death in that instant? The boxer certaintly couldn't hide from animal control for too long since they would surely put him down should he have even mouthed the JRT's owner in his attempt to eat him. Did those owners NOT realize how much of the blame was to be put on THEM for using inadequate equipment, not handling the dogs properly and not training them? How are dog owners not capable of reading their own dog's body language and intentions? Since when does dog ownership not include training? Since when does dog ownership not include MANNERS at the very least?

Should either of the owners not learn from the entire episode, it reinforced the fact for me that the odds are against us, and training and ever mindful management is essential to ensure he lives a long and healthy life.

On a much happier note - it is official now! Rugby got his CDX certificate in the mail yesterday!


  1. I'll say that I agree with you that both dogs should be trained to listen to their owners. I'll also say that you really don't have a good understanding of harnesses at all. I do use a harness and my dog is always under control in it. I use it because her head is smaller than her neck. In the worst case scenario, no collar could hold my dog without choking the life out of her, and I choose not to hang her with a noose. Not all dogs are built with a head larger than their neck.

    And worse than any of these things that you've mentioned is an off leash dog or one on a flexi lead. Those things should be banned!

  2. well, dogs are not that stupid, they would stop dragging their owners down the street before they choke themselves to death.
    Sam, I do not think you realize how bad the situation is, until you go to "aggression support" message board and read what people are posting.
    How many idiots are out there with the aggressive dogs, who know that their dogs are aggressive, but all the do is discuss what head halter is better and stuff their dogs with food, every time their dog goes nuts. They will also tell you that those methods of training are much safer and cannot cause bad side effects. Of course not, the only bad side effect is that the dog will be conditioned that if he barks louder, he'll get more food:-)
    Yep, we are doomed.
    On the good note, it takes two attacks for the dog to go down. So the boxer might've survived the attack, cant say the same for the JRT though:-(
    My neighbors just got a dog size of the squirrel literally. That puppy runs out of the house and zooms the streets. How long do you think it will last?

  3. Yep, I too am amazed at what I see. Not only people who are not only hopeless at controlling their own dogs, but then have the nerve to let them approach my dog saying "it's OK, he's friendly". Yikes. The hardest part for me is to politely say, "my dog is in training right now and not here to play" or something like that... Feel bad for the people, but worse for the dogs!


  4. I'm afraid that more often than not, dogs have behavior problems because of their people.

  5. I here ya! Spoiled, untrained dogs are an epidemic right now.

    Congrats on the CDX being official!