Sunday, October 3, 2010


I recently had an experience that's been on my mind for several days.  I was playing with a Rottie puppy at my clinic who's been boarding with us, when a young man approached us.  As puppies will do, he nipped joyfully at the newcomers hands, play-bowing and hopping about happily.  After we exchanged a few pleasantries, the young man tells me that although the pup's cute now, "all these breeds - Rotties, Pitties and German Shepherds - they can turn on you when they're older".

I was floored and once I'd regained my composure enough to contradict him with LOGIC, I shared with him my personal experiences.  I explained to him that as an owner of 2 of the 3 breeds he mentioned, I'd had nothing but unswerving loyalty and devotion from each.  What  followed was the usual chatter about breeds, media hype and bad owners and then the young man went on his way.  I don't know that I was able to change his mind, but surely his beliefs weren't based on scientific research or personal experience with vast numbers of dogs of these breeds.  They were conjecture.

So now you're thinking that I'll discuss more about breeds, predispositions, temperaments and misconceptions...


In mulling all this over for the past week or so, I've come to the conclusion that we expect too much from dogs.  They are expected to be unflappable in the face of pain, loyal when faced with neglect and utterly submissive when bullied.  How much would you take if someone were hitting you, teasing you, or otherwise mistreating you?  The healthy answer would be that you would stop that treatment as quickly as possible.  Either by discussing it, pushing back or simply walking away.  What is considered "turning on you"?  What's the context?  You're walking through your house and Sadie your German Shepherd of 5 years suddenly decided the Kibbles 'N Bits are unacceptable (I can't say I'd blame her) and hauls off and goes for your jugular?!  I find this hard to believe.  A more conceivable, yet troubling scenario is that Sadie is under- socialized, lives in the backyard, is tied to a chain and when you smack her around a bit, or take food from her bowl, she snaps at your hand.

So how much do we expect our dogs to take from us?  If your friend lied to you once, slapped you once, ignored and neglected you, you'd probably stop returning their phone calls.  Stop going to their house, stop the relationship once and for all.  A dog doesn't have that option.  Her first line of defense is the growl, then snap.  Forget about breed propensities - I've seen many a 3 lb chihuahua turn into a piranha pooch at the sight of a nail trimmer.  But wouldn't you react if you were hurt or scared?

So the next time you hear someone talking about a dog "turning" on its owner, conduct your own little experiment.  Raise your arm and bring it really far back, and slap them across the face.  Slap them really hard.  I'm pretty sure they'll act just like a dog.


  1. BRAVO!!!

    THIS should be required reading!

    Khyra's Mom

  2. Great post!!!

    You said what I wanted to say all the time. I had a rottie, Laura who spent 10 years faithfully to us and she's our sweetie pie. Everyone could pet her and hug her, she's so patient and good to everybody.

    "Turn on us"? Nope!!! Laura had never failed to show her compassion and love to us and we loved every bit of her. She crossed the bridge peacefully in July.

  3. Yikes, blogger ate our comment.

    Great post - no dog or cat or human should be labeled before being given a chance. And even then, keep trying because sometimes it just takes time and love and work.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  4. Very well said. I agree with Khyra - this should definitely be required reading.

  5. Spot on. I consider all of those breeds loyal and loving beyond compare.
    Love Noodles

  6. Hmmm. I is 9 1/2 years old. Is it time to turn on my mom yet? I swear, some peeples is so silly!

  7. while my beloved kitty-cat was "relieved" of one of his legs by my neighbor's pit bull, i do believe that the breed can be very sweet and gentle. i've met many such dogs that i really like. love how you end the post. nicely done :)

  8. FANTASTIC post! I'll definitely have to try that next time someone says anything of the sort to me... SMACK!

  9. Oh the joyful thought of smacking the abundantly misinformed


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