Wednesday, July 7, 2010


It seems I have offended a few with my recent blog posts. Since Rugby is on vacation, he has allowed me to borrow his blog for a little longer to introduce a new perspective to dog husbandry. This perspective is a logical and reasonable one. The same post about Lily the shelter dog that was mentioned yesterday provides a good opportunity for this.

I am sure this response to my comment is one many of the readers of the blog above share. I will list the flaws in this logic below, focusing on the several assumptions that had to be made in order to construct this argument.
"Samantha, there is no evidence she is "dog-aggressive". She is blind, and pregnant, and we don't know the whole story behind what occured between her and the puppy. Many factors could have come into play, including and most importantly - poor ownership skills(were the dogs properly introduced? was their interaction closely monitored? was Lily in pain and no one cared/notice? did the puppy ignore her body language?). The shelter observed NO aggression from her. In addition, being blind is not a strike against her. Many dogs lead healthy, normal, happy lives despite having limited or no sight. It is common for owners to not even REALIZE their dog has gone blind because of their amazing reziliance.

My first dog was killed by a wolf-hybrid, so I understand the tendency to be cautious, it took literally seconds and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
However, responsible ownership, knowing your dogs limitations, and setting your dog up for SUCCESS vs FAILURE are the most important rules in raising happy healthy and safe dogs.

I am sad that you see a possible blindness as a reason to euthanize."
Assumption #1
       The argument assumes that a dead puppy is not evidence of dog aggression.

Assumption #2
       This argument assumes that the volunteers and shelter workers are competent and experienced enough to recognize signs of aggression. I appreciate these people for the work they do, and it takes a lot of time and compassion to do their job. However, I have enough experience to know that they are the last people I will ask about dog behavior/interaction/management/training.

Assumption #3
      This argument discounts the dog in question's aggression (because of an unfounded faith in these people's opinions) and then assumes that my real meaning was that she should be PTS because she is blind. However I stated my opinion on the grounds not that she is blind, but that she is blind AND dog aggressive. If any of you have any experience with blind dogs you should know that it is not uncommon for a blind dog to become reactive to things that startle them (still not enough of a reason to warrant a kill). Being blind and dog aggressive therefore increases the risk of attack greatly.

Assumption #4
       This argument assumes that rude puppy behavior is reason to kill. It is not. Poor introductions are not reason to kill. Pain is not reason to kill. There is never a reason to kill.

It seems I was so successful at offending these readers that some comments were made elsewhere that are less than blog-worthy. However I must again bring attention to the flaw in logic here too.
"I am a little confused as to why she wants random dogs to be breeding."
Assumption #5
    This comment assumes that intact dogs breed constantly. The truth is that spaying and neutering does not keep dogs out of shelters - responsible dog ownership does. I am not for the breeding of 'random' dogs or less than quality dogs either (physically or mentally). However, I do recognize the health benefits and the hazards there are to spaying and neutering. I also encourage people to think for themselves before they consume the kool aid of the animal rights crazies. (and before more assumptions are made I am in favor of animal welfare but not animal rights)
"In fact, 28 percent of owned dogs and 16 percent of owned cats are not spayed or neutered, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association."
Rugby's regular readers are already aware of how I feel about H$U$....
even so, here are the statistics from the enemy-
"Seventy-five percent of owned dogs are spayed or neutered"

Maybe new logic is all that dogs need?


  1. The amount of emotion and lack of logic is why I don't volunteer at shelters any more.

    I'll assume Lily's prior owners didn't know she was pregnant, or if they did, didn't know that pregnant bitches are known for killing competing puppies. I'll also assume they, like far too many people, think that adult dogs love puppies. Humans love puppies, dogs tend to barely tolerate puppies.

    "did the puppy ignore her body language?"
    YES, because it's a PUPPY. They are rude, pushy, belligerent little cusses exploring a new and fascinating world. They are more or less oblivious to subtle warning signals because their brains aren't sophisticated enough to understand the warning. They are cut slack by most (but not all) adult dogs until they're about 5 months old, then they get their asses kicked on some level until they learn dog manners.

    "The shelter observed NO aggression from her."
    Where? In her little concrete run in a strange, stressful environment, or when she's out on walks and can't see? I doubt they took another dog into her home to observe her reaction. Aggression can be very situational, and most dogs in shelters are far too stressed to show their true selves. Not to mention that dog aggression and human aggression are not the same thing.

    "In addition, being blind is not a strike against her."
    Yes, it is. She'll require a bit more care and vigilance, and someone who can be content to live with the same floor plan for years so she can know the layout. It's not a big strike, but it's a strike.

    "It is common for owners to not even REALIZE their dog has gone blind because of their amazing reziliance.[sic]"
    Sadly, I'd say this is more because most owners don't know enough about dogs to see that something is wrong.

    As someone who's family has owned all manner of intact dogs, with exactly three planned, purebred litters produced in some 30+ years, I'd say that owning an intact animal is not the same as owning a breeding animal, but there's no converting the fanatical. Most people do find it easier to alter a dog than live with the hormones and separating bitches in season, but desexing should be a choice, not a mandate of "good dog ownership".

  2. These posts have got me to thinking. Is aggression and reactivity becoming more common in dogs, or is due to all the various different information outlets that we're just hearing about it more? It seems to me like it's becoming a lot more common to have "problem" dogs, than "normal" ones. But like I said, I'm not sure if it's just a matter of there being a lot more online outlets to hear about these situations and get information on the subject.

    If it is a matter of aggression and reactiveness becoming a lot more common, what the heck is at the root of that???

    Just thoughts that have been tumbling through my head lately.

  3. I don't think general blanket statements are as valuable as assessing an individual animal case-by-case.

    Also being in a high stress environment such as a shelter is not conducive to bringing out a dog's (or cat's) true personality.


  4. I can easily believe that aggression becoming a more common problem later.
    I think that the issue could be related to animal radicals movement. I know, I know, you are going to tell me that it's easy to blame them all the time for everything, but here are my reasons.
    Aggression has many different forms.
    Some are simply genetic problems. Some are breed specific problems, for example terriers have high prey drive, or can be dog aggressive. The key to solving that would be preventing it right from the start by solid obedience training, rather than trying to fix it later.
    I think many types of aggression are developed based on the environment the dog is in by people unknowingly reinforcing bad behaviors. Most of the dog owners do not want to invest time or money into training a puppy, they only turn to trainers when things start going south. In addition to that the mentality that chock-chains and prongs are evil and cruel that even when people are having a problem they are trying to solve it with a cookie. I was a member of aggression support group once. You can't even imaging all the nonsense the people will do in order to solve an aggression problem.And if you mention to them a choke chain, they will tell you how dangerous and cruel that is, but they think it's ok to feed a dog a cookie while he is acting aggressive towards another dog, because according the them you cannot reinforce bad behavior with a cookie, you can only reinforce the good one.

  5. It was a crazy busy and stressful three weeks, but also very fun. One thing that was a new experience was teaching the Improv class. Now, I'm no expert improver, but I've done it for a long time and I've taught other subjects long enough to know that it's more important to be a good teacher, than to be an expert at the subject.