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October 11, 2011

Bad Dog

By Sarah

When it comes to the behavior of our own dogs, I think many of us lead with our hearts over our heads. But now that my own head almost got bitten off the other day, I'm rethinking this whole Dogs Rule thing, especially when that dog's known as a Chinese Fighter.

This is what happened: I got out of my car on busy State Street this weekend - a lovely, Indian Summer day - and stepped on the sidewalk where a really interesting looking dog was resting, feet first ON THE SIDEWALK - this is important.

.....Here is a picture of the breed in resting formation.Chinese Shar Pei Girl

Sam was with me and I said, "Hey, what a cool looking dog. I'm going to ask the owner what kind it is." Since, you know, we've been on the lookout for a new big dog now that Ben, our gentle mutt, has gone to the great hunting ground in the sky. 

The owner was a young woman, late 20s, eating outside at a restaurant here in Montpelier - jeans, flannel shirt, just a little past college stage. She was at the table near the sidewalk, a pink leash connecting the dog to a wrought iron fence. As I passed over the dog to ask her what kind, I said to the dog, "What a beautiful pooch you are...."

Instantly, the dog was in my face. It was like something out of a cartoon. One minute it was looking up at me with blinking brown eyes, the next minute it was leaping toward my throat and gnashing its teeth, the metal choke collar being the only thing holding it back. Holy shit!

"You startled her,"  the woman said. Not, oh, I'm sorry. Or, down Sheila. But..."You startled her. She is, after all, a Shar Pei."

 She IS after all a Shar Pei? What does that even mean? In 1978 the Shar Pei was voted the rarest dog on Earth so pardon me for not possessing working knowledge of a Shar Pei's quirks. Retrievers wander and like water and tennis balls. Labs are dumb but loyal. Basset hounds (like mine) even dumber and far less loyal though funny. Jack Russell terriers, smart. Greyhounds, fast. Bulldogs, hard to breed. Newfs, noble. These traits I understand.

But a Shar Pei will bite your head off if you say hello on a street?

Also, may I just say Montpelier has a lot of dogs tied up here and there. It's that kind of hippie place. I have yet to meet an unfriendly one and do you know why? Because people with unfriendly dogs LEAVE THEIR DOGS AT HOME. 

So, back to the scene. All conversation at the restaurant has stopped. I, of course, feel like a fool because I didn't know a) what a Shar Pei looked like or b) that they're easily startled and that c) I have broken some sort of unspoken ettiquette about dog introduction.

"She's never bitten anyone," the woman continued. "She's really a nice dog."

Again...do I care? No. I now do not want a Shar Pei. I am not interested in one as a pet. Nor, do I want to hear the whole history of the Shar Pei evolution as my eyes twinkle in admiration. What I want to do is tell this woman that she should be damn glad I wasn't stupid enough to try to pet this dog on the sidewalk. Or that I wasn't a little kid intrigued by a genuinely cool wrinkly dog face. 

By the way, this is the story of the Shar Pei. They are considered dangerous breeds more likely to attack, such as pit bulls. (Pit bull owners will also tell you their dogs are lovely and I sure they are --- to their owners.) Shar Peis were bred for fighting, though the Shar Pei industry claims modern ones are more for "guarding." They are also really, really expensive.

Frankly, it's hard to believe that a dog that starts off this cute could be nasty:  Shar pei puppy

But to tell you the truth, I'm kind of sick of mean dogs, even if they are wrinkly or beautiful.

For example, there was a dog in our neighborhood that used to terrorize Fred. I'd be taking him for a walk - on a leash - and this dog would patrol his own property in the woods. We'd cross the road and keep to ourselves and still this akita would dash out and pounce. Once, it got Fred on his back with its jaw on Fred's throat. (Fortunately, there's a lot of skin there.) After this happened twice, I actually waited for the owners to pull out of the driveway, stood in front of their pickup truck and said, "Look. I should be able to walk down a street without being attacked by your dog."

They laughed. As did the woman who owned the Shar Pei after I walked away, hands up in disgust. (Perhaps that burned me more than anything.)

Finally - and, yes, I know this is a rant - why do people own mean dogs like this? If it's for protection, shouldn't they be behind electric fences? How horrible would you feel if your dog ran out and hurt someone, especially a child or an elderly person?

Okay...so that's where I stand on the issue. How about you? I am open to any and all enlightenment. Cute Still, when it comes to dogs, I say let's stick to nice ones like these...there are so many.

 

Sarah 

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Comments

For twelve years, so far, it has been my pleasure to protect the world from my dog and my dog from the world. He's a loving, sweet tempered, smart, obedient, mellow, fun pooch when it's just me and my husband. But in all these twelve years we've never been able to convince him that other people are not a threat and that they do not need to be run off. So he is never put in a position where he can make that decision himself. When people come over he is sent to bed. When we take him out he is leashed and the leash is pulled close if we're going to cross paths with any human. I can even stop and talk to neighbors because if he's close enough to me he will behave. He behaves because I make him. I can never take my mind wander away from him when we're out. I don't know for certain that he'd bite because I've never given him the opportunity. His attitude informs me that it is possible so no chance is given. I can't imagine the mindset of lax dog owners that allow their pets to threaten or even attack. How can they ignore the fear or pain of others? How can they put their dogs at risk of being put down? Bucky was a stray when he came to us. Starved physically and emotionally. He is not the kind of dog I would have sought but he's the dog fate sent me. It will break my heart when he goes. But I'm hoping fate sends me a happy go lucky pup next time.

This feels like a 70-comment post, and I'm Number Two! I just hope I do better than all the Number Two's in The Prisoner.

Cute dog. I wonder if it's one that homeowners' insurance companies as about specifically. That would really say something.

My question would be the way that woman was treating her dog. Like anything else, you get what you raise.

What really makes me angry is, had you been bitten, she'd have claimed it was YOUR fault for startling the dog.

I have had big, tough, protective, hairy beasts (Bouvier des Flandres) for 36 years. What having these dogs has taught me...socialize, socialize, socialize. With people, with other animals, with people, with places, with people. And the more people, places and animals they know, the better family member they will be.

Guard dogs for general protection should be balanced. Watchful, protective but NEVER, NEVER explosive when with their people. If on their own is another story but we're talking about people who take their dogs with them.

Nasty (his name, not his personality) would position himself between me and any strangers. Never a growl, bark or showing of teeth. Just making his presence known. And he had been known to push me away from a perceived threat (someone walking up to the fence with his hand out). All the rest have been just as patient...and COULD be just as dangerous. But weren't because I taught them better. And I hate it when people like that woman make it harder for me to be accepted a lot of places when I have a dog with me.

Oh, and no matter how 'cute' or interesting looking a Shar Pei is, you really don't want one unless you have a lot of time to devote to carefully cleaning those wrinkles. This breed is prone to fungal infections in the folds and usually cost a lot in vet fees for skin problems.

I have a Cairn Terrier (Toto from the Wizard of Oz). Cute, huh? And he is...with the family. Don't be fooled! He is a 20 lb. badass in a cute fuzzy little package. He hates joggers, bicycles, teenage boys (other than his boy), strollers (but loves babies)and certain other dogs. When he sees them, he becomes a Tasmanian devil on a leash. People see us coming down the sidewalk and cross the street. I just pick him up and tuck him under my arm and keep moving.

On a good note, he tracks and kills moles, lizards & roaches.

At home, he just wants the occasional carrot. He trips on the stairs (klutzy like me). He loves to be with his pack.

Right now, he is curled up in the big chair with me snoozing like a baby. Good little monster...Good little monster.

My daughter and her husband rescued a cute white puppy that was a "lab boxer mix," but of course he's a pitbull. And he's HUGE with a very scary head. But he seems to know he looks terrifying, so his expression is always a little sheepish. He's very sweet and allows everyone into the house. But.......he's scary-looking. And when he does (rarely) bark, it's a big, horrifying production. They take him to the dog park all the time, where he's a pussy cat with all the other dogs--the first one to roll over on his back. I must admit, though, even I'm kinda waiting for the other shoe to drop with that one. They're doing everything to socialize him, but he still looks like a huge scary animal.

Hot button here. The dog is not the problem. The owners are the idiot problems. Pit bulls are very smart, super loyal, trainable animals that will DO WHAT YOU TEACH THEM TO DO. Ditto chows and shar peis and many other breeds labeled "mean". IT is NOT the breed and really terrible things (for the dogs)are coming out of this misunderstanding.

Mean dogs are the result of wretchedly untrained or foolish owners, and the dogs pay the price. That young woman needs a ticket, and her "punishment" should be a requirement that she gets long term training. Ditto the Akita owners. Want to slap them all soundly.

Dogs are not people. They have they're own rules of engagement. True dog lovers know that.

That said, an aggressive or nervous dogs dog should not be in situations where they might hurt someone.

Their, not they're, of course.

Yeah, I'm with ya. I read somewhere that before you get a dog, you should decide what you want the dog's name to be. If you choose, say, Molly, that indicates you should get a Cocker Spaniel or something adorable. If you choose, say, Chopper, that leads you in another direction, perhaps, if you;re wise, NOT to get a dog.

We grew up with Irish Setters, pretty but dumb. (The DOGS, not the sisters. Please.)

Jonathan and I could not possibly manage a dog, so we --as I think you know--decided to get an invisible dog. A Wheaten Terrier, Wheatie. Wheatie is no trouble at all. You would love her, Sarah.

Oh, Sarah, I'm enraged for you. And I agree with Barbara--it's really the that young woman's fault. I've mostly had retrievers (lab or golden) and they were sweet, bug lugs. The lab was huge--100 lbs.--but a true gentle giant. I know that some dogs are more skittish, some dogs are better with children, etc., but as an owner, it's your responsibility to know your dog, train your dog, and not place your dog in a position where others are in danger.

Glad you and Sam weren't hurt.

Idiot owners. "He won't bite." "He's gentle." "He's friendly." As someone who gets invited to other people's houses 20 times a night, RESTRAIN YOUR F**KING DOG.

One person re "invisible fenced" his yard after his dog bit one driver and I introduced his dog to pepper spray. We did lose the customer after she was given the option of the $500 fine or having her dog put down by the city. He was "gentle" until he tried to bite the police officer taking the statement after a driver got bit. Nothing like teeth marks in the uniform pants in front of a judge. Yo, drunk guy, if your dog had not jumped at my face, I would not have hit him. But seeing how I'm 6'2" and he had all four feet off the floor, I didn't see to many other options.

And the two very special cases:

Idiot bitch whose unleashed dog did his business on the leash law/pick up after your dog sign before trying to bite my child. She was very upset that I picked her dog up by his neck, too bad. Maybe the leash should have been on the dog and not in your pocket.

Idiot people whose dog got in my car in their drive way. Maglite to the head works more effectively than pepper spray.

The short version: Idiot owner, keep your dog at home. One or both of you don't have the manners to be out in public.

I grew up with mutts and dobermans. We had two dobies, Blackjack, a giant at 60 pounds by doberman standards, who thought he was a lapdog, and Brandy, on the small side at 35 pounds who believed she could take on anything and win. Both were well behaved in the house and on the leash, although Brandy barked at people on the porch. She charged the picture window when the new Avon lady in town came to the door and that would have been fine, except we had just rearranged the furniture and the sofa was no longer there. Poor Brandy went through the picture window. She was fine, but the Avon lady never came back. Both dogs were protective of us, but never overtly threatening toward others. When I was about 12, a Christmas song came on the radio that was "sung" by barking dogs. Blackjack pushed me into a corner and stood guard until the song was finished. One time my parents were goofing around, Dad tickling Mom on the steps from the landing to the kitchen. She stepped back, let out a shriek, and sat down on the top step. Dad grabbed for her as she went down, and Blackjack and Brandy appeared over each of her shoulders, gently taking his arms in their mouths. They didn't growl or bite, just reminded him that she was their person, too.

My brother has what sounds like a scary monster of a dog - a Rottweiler/Pitbull cross. Blackjack (named after our old dog) was raised by my brother since he could literally fit in the palm of his hand. He is sweet, loving, protective, but respectful. He looks like a Rott but has the jaw of a Pit, and if you've ever looked into the panting, smiling, or yawning mouth of a Pit you know how scary that is. There are a couple of inches of muscle visible on either side of the jaw. Forget breaking an arm - that jaw can crush a skull.

However, I believe ANY breed can produce a dangerous dog, and any breed can produce a gentle dog. How they're raised changes everything. Owners should be held accountable for their dogs actions, not just the major, serious behavior but the everyday things like you experienced with the Shar Pei.

My dog Fez looks mean and wouldn't hurt a -- well, I was going to say "fly" but he actually catches and eats flies. But he loves all people and other animals. Unless another dog is threatening his little sister. His little sister used to be Jinn, and now that Jinn is gone, the little sister is Cairo.

Cairo also loves all people, kids, etc., but has developed a habit of terrorizing other dogs, so I have to be very diligent and keep her on leash and not let her get close to them. She used to be good with other dogs, so I can't figure out how this happened! Is it that when we rescued her, she suddenly decided it was her job to protect her family, property and indeed the world from other dogs? It's freaky. Fortunately Cairo is not very big, but I hate to think that one day she is going to eat a Chihuahua for lunch.

It's clear to me that this is my problem, not hers, so any advice on how to address it is welcome. I had a trainer come to the house (I had a Groupon!) but all she said was, "let her off leash when other dogs are around and she'll be calmer." Uh . . .what? No.

According to the dog program on Nature the other night, Judith is right on target with her comments about the difficulty of keeping a Shar Pei's skin healthy down in those folds. Shar Peis and bulldogs were the two breeds specifically mentioned as being examples of bad breeding on the part of humans. The bulldog looks strong, but is relatively weak and its hindquarters have been bred to be so slender, most pups have to be delivered by caesarian birth. My best dogs have been mutts with a little bit of shepherd mixed in.

Invisible fences make me wince. They are required by a lot of home owners' associations here but the fact is that you can't rely on them. A lot of dogs will take the hit to go after a squirrel, a rabbit, something they don't like or a bitch in heat but won't come back into the yard. They don't stop uncollared dogs from coming into your yard and they definitely don't keep people out.

And I've known a couple of dogs who were smart enough to lay down right at the activation point (before the shock but when the collar turns on) until the batteries are empty and then go for a stroll with no consequences.

They are good for keeping a dog back from a physical fence if the dog is a jumper or lunger but they don't take the place of a good physical barrier.

Margaret - Ben was a mutt with shepherd. I agree - great dogs.
My suspicion about Shar Pei chick was that she WANTED to get noticed, ya know what I mean?
Any dog owner knows that dogs are weird when it comes to food. Protective, right? So there she is eating with her dog and she's guarding her....at a public place on a public sidewalk. She knows the dog is protective, easily startled, etc....So why put the dog in such a position?
You're right. I DON'T blame the dog. I wouldn't even blame her if she kept the dog at home. What do I care what kind of dog you have as long as it doesn't hurt me as I'm passing by?
It's the kind of flaunting the dangerous dog thing that pisses me off. I've got a dog, too, and while I love taking Fred with me wherever I go, I would NEVER take him to a restaurant. He wouldn't guard, but he would most likely sneakily find a way to steal food. Yesterday morning I caught him ON THE KITCHEN TABLE stealing a brownie.
And, as owner, I'm fully at fault.

These are great stories. Fun to read.
A few weeks ago I stayed with friends in Florida and went to a dog park with them and their sweet, shy Golden a few times. It was so amazing to watch all those various breeds interact without aggression, although there were a couple of nutty and aggressive humans."Our" Golden has a best friend there and was in bliss whenever "Cody" arrived. The Golden, who was probably abused early in life, even interacted eagerly with humans there, which he usually won't do except with his own. Immediately upon leaving the park, he reverted to his very shy and fearful self. The presence of the other dogs inside the park seemed to give him greater confidence. Maybe he thought his pals would go after any human who disturbed him?

I agree that dogs follow their owners' wishes. I've met some sweet Rottweilers, German shepherds and Dobermans, all supposedly fierce. I do notice that the owners who have non-agressive Dobies do not cut their ears.
It's that poor Shar Pei's owner who needs training.

As with any purebred dog, you have to check out the breeder. We had a 'purebred' lab that was meaner than sin. Her father was her brother from another litter. When a breed gets popular, shady/crazy people think they can breed just any old thing and get good dogs. Actually they don't care what kind of dogs they turn out to be, they just want the money.

A neighbor of ours had a Shar Pei. They went on vacation and had the kid next door feed and take care of the dog. My daughter went along one day and the dog nipped her. Barely broke the skin, pretty much just a warning. I understood that the dog just was protecting her territory against someone she didn't know; I just wanted to make sure she was current on her shots. lol. When the neighbor returned, she was horrified that her dog did that and offered to pay for the tetanus shot the dr recommended (after being reassured the dog had current rabies tags). Shar Peis are very protective and can be trained to not be that easily startled. But the owner should have corrected the dog. When another dog is in the vicinity, no dog is THAT startled.

I want Alan with me if I ever encounter a mean dog . . . mostly, I've been lucky to meet nice ones. I can't live with a dog, too many allergies, but I can and do say hello on the street, with owner's permission if one is present, or by first holding out my hand to be sniffed . . . so far, so good; I still have both hands.
When I sold insurance, I once had a couple decide to trust me when they realized their malamute had been sleeping on my feet through the whole interview, "but she doesn't like strangers . . ." She liked me (or perhaps my new boots), and I liked her because my brother had a malamute. Sweetest scary-looking dog in the world.
As for your encounter -- bad, bad owner! I suggest kenneling the owner in a case like that . . .

Oh, Sarah, you have my sympathy! I am a dog lover and always said that I never met a dog that didn't like me.

Until April 2000.

When I got home from work one April afternoon, I decided that I needed to go for a walk before dinner. My intention was to walk for half an hour. About seven minutes into my walk, I was walking IN THE STREET near a beach. An elderly man was sitting on a bench ON THE BEACH, with a small dog, a Bichon, in his lap. When I was around half a block away, the dog stood up on the owner's lap and began barking and growling furiously. So, "naturally", the idiot owner stood up and LET THE DOG RUN INTO THE STREET. The dog ran up to me, and would not let me pass by him. He was barking, growling, etc. The idiot owner yelled to me from where he was still standing on the beach: "he won't hurt you; there's nothing to be afraid of."
By the time the words were out of his mouth, the dog had bitten me. Twice. When I told the owner that, he got mad at ME, said I was "making a big deal out of nothing" and demanded to see the bite. He looked at it and repeated that I was making a big deal out of nothing; "it's not bleeding all that much." I demanded his name and address and reported him to Animal Control in our town. The Animal Control officer went out to his house and impounded the animal for two weeks. The owner had violated the local ordinance about not keeping his dog under control.

I have always thought of this as the "Son of a Bichon Incident".

Oh, and the reason I was walking BEFORE dinner instead of AFTER, was that I needed to relax. The reason I needed to relax is that when I returned from work that night I discovered (LONG story) that the plumber that I'd hired three months earlier to do an emergency replacement of my leaking hot water heater had used my credit card not only to pay for the parts and repairs BUT to pay a personal insurance bill of just under $400.

What a day that turned out to be.

I was attacked by a collie when I was four--knocked out a tooth, split my lip open. The owners were lovely people, the dog was from a shelter and had been abused. I'd reached out my hand toward it with my palm upwards, and it thought I was going to hit it.

I'm a real fan of people keeping dangerous dogs away from kids, and other people.

Harley, as the owner of a ver neurotic chow who also feels it's his sworn sutyntonkill anyone who might approach me, a dog who now walks with me everywhere (always on leash) and now only gets tense when the cheerleader Goldens come running toward us off leash--find another trainer. One who can teach you how to socialize your dog in ways that are safe for your dog and others. Chicken breasts, repetition (for ages!) and patience can do wonders. I also use a harness, rather than a collar.

Mine is a rescue, too, and I adore him, but I don't let him off-leash, we don't go to the dog park, and when small children approach, I don't let them pet him. I walk away. I am 99 percent sure that he'd be fine, but what if he got scared? Not his fault. I'm his mother and charged with knowing and protecting him. And others.

Son of a Bichon, Deb. You know it's bad when the owner says, "You're not bleeding that much."

Cornelia, I, too, was bitten when I was a kid by a terrier named Skippy. Skippy, my friend Lisa (she of the martini video) and I agreed the other day was IN-SANE. That was back in the days of wood paneling (think fondly) and Skippy was kept in the basement of our friend Francine Brown (now a doctor) where it would SHRED THE PANELING!

Anyway, one day I was walking by (teasing the dog on a chain) and in a moment straight out of Cohen brother movie, Skippy broke the chain and bit me.

I have never liked terriers since.

Hi Sarah - empathy headed your way!

My service dog Kendall is a golden retriever. http://reenharringtoncarter.blogspot.com/ He was selected for his fabulous nature and willingness to please, among other good things. He was trained for two years before I met him and were matched at Power Paws of Scottsdale, Arizona boot camp.

Kendall and I have been attacked, on separate occasions, by two dogs in our neighborhood. One of the dogs, a boxer(?), was off leash and ran from his owner to chase me down the street in my wheelchair. When he caught up with us he bit Kendall on the backside while I sat there screaming. The dog's owner ran home until another neighbor came and helped. The owner never apologized. I don't blame the dog, but the dog is not nice.

The other dog, who has attacked us, is a mixed-breed whose was rescued from the local no-kill shelter by her current owner. She broke her leash and ran after Kendall but my husband managed to dissuade her before she did any harm - outside of scaring us all half to death, that is. Her owner was very apologetic and replaced the old leash with a 12-foot "retractable." Now the dog just lunges forward, as the leash allows her to run at us, All the while her owner yells, "It's okay! It's okay! The leash is retractable!"

I'm a small-dog owner -- a Peke/King Charles Spaniel mix. Luna's got one eye and displays all the I'm-not-a-threat doggy signals there are. What gets me are owners of the so-called friendly dog breeds -- I'm thinking of a poo-mix and a golden lab here -- who let their dogs off leash, don't watch them, and then give me a ton of excuses when their dogs get aggressive with mine. And don't get me started when a dog's hackles are raised and the owner says, She just wants to play. Any owner who doesn't know the difference between playfulness and aggression shouldn't own a dog.

Mandatory reading for every new dog owner should be a book by Turid Rugass about doggy calming signals, found here: http://www.canis.no/rugaas/.

BTW, Barbara: I apologize if I offended you as a pit bull owner. I knew it was a risk I was running when I included them in the dangerous dog category. There have, of course, been very nice pit bulls. As my mother often noted, Petey of the Little Rascals was a pit bull.

I'm sure you're a fabulous and responsible owner.

I mentioned in your post on Facebook the dog that attacked two of my dogs on Christmas Eve. We had ours on leashes, across the street, and this dog ran out of his yard, across the road (thank God no car was coming), and came after them. It was really scary, and, being Christmas Eve, expensive. I still get nervous when walking my dogs and I see other dogs unrestrained (and even when there's an invisible fence - as Judith mentioned, they will break through them if they are motivated enough). When I see a dog unrestrained, I turn around or if the person is outside, I ask them to get the dog. Most of them say, "He won't do anything." I don't care - get your dog.

I have a son-of-a-Bichon (perfect description of mine - but he hasn't bitten anyone) who is really high strung. I don't let him out without a leash (except in our fenced-in backyard), and I keep him away from kids and other dogs. When a kid comes running and wants to pet him, I tell them no - the other two dogs are fine, but he's not friendly. He's never bitten anyone, but I'm not taking the chance. He does bark at people who come in the house, and outside at other dogs. Alan will be glad to know that when the pizza guy comes, he goes in his crate. (The dog, not he pizza guy.)

When people get pissed about me asking them to get their dog, they always say their dog will be fine. Sure, that's what the people who owned the dog that attacked us thought too. And I am worried that MY dog will start something - you never know how two dogs are going to react to each other. Stupid idiots. That's why I keep MY dog on a LEASH.

A pet peeve of mine - can you tell?

I live in a neighbourhood with a lot of pure bred fancy dogs, from tiny things to great big dogs. I have long since stopped every commenting or trying to greet any of these dogs. I was out for a walk and a dog on a leash started lunging at me, while the owner was (of course) saying, don't worry she's friendly. Where was Alan when I needed him. I do see some very well trained dogs but most are not and I don't want to be the one to find out how poorly trained they really are.

In Canada we have a show about 'bad' dogs called:
http://www.bradpattison.com/page/end-my-leash
I do watch it every now and then and I think it is about 25% training the dogs, 75% training the owners.

That dumb bitch with the Shar Pei will, soon I'm thinking, be hit with a lawsuit when he bites somebody. If she's really unlucky, he'll bite a lawyer.

When I delivered pizzas, I called to let them know I was on the way and to lock up their dogs or they would not get their pizza. Most people were ok with that, although a few bitched about it being a pain in the ass. I would then ask them if a half million dollar lawsuit from a dog bit would be more of a pain in the ass. That usually shut them up.

I've never owned an agressive dog, although my Basset mix Lucy will bark a lot at other dogs. This is probably because most of the dogs I've owned have been hounds or labs, both types being more goofy and dumb than mean.

By the way, if y'all think dogs can be mean and bitey, try walking through a yard full of geese sometime.

Laura in PA, I am still laughing at "when the pizza guy comes, he goes in his crate." Even with your clarification. I hope I'm not offending any pizza guys.

I have to large (60ishpounds) dogs. One is 10 the other is 8. The 10 year old is half shepard half chow. He looks like a shepard that ran into the back of a bus. The 8 year old is a flat coated retriever. From day one, both dogs are complete opposites of each other. One is great in riding in cars, the other is a nutcase when driving. One is really good on a leash, the other finds ways to relinquish himself from it and takes off. One is great with cats and the other ignores them. I love them both but I cannot trust them with other dogs. So I keep them in my yard, or for fresh air I drive them to the playground where there is a fenced in court. I lock the gate to it and let them run free. Here they cannot go after other dogs and they have the space to run.

Laura: "this dog ran out of his yard, across the road (thank God no car was coming)"
You are a kinder woman than I, considering the amount of damage to your poor puppies suffered, to be grateful a car hadn't intercepted those aggressors . . . maybe just a little bum? . . .
I just got back from a walk in Frontier Park, on the Missouri River in St. Charles, and a woman had two adorable friendly little puppies with her. My friend and I discussed after saying good-bye the fact that technically they should have been leashed, but they were so young and frisky, I think they'd have been tied in knots before going ten feet . . . and the truly were sweet (and very far from the street, and showing no desire to be more than a foot away from their owner and each other). Sigh, no doggy here . . . or cat . . and I think the frogs are getting ready for a long winter's nap.
Oh, I think I'd better throw a few peanuts out as a token offering for Rally Squirrel . . .

As a kid, I was chased by loose dogs many times delivering papers on our route, and it was terrifying. I still get nervous around unrestrained dogs, and I *hate* the "don't worry, he's friendly" owners.

I second the motion that it is not the dog, it is the owner. As a pet owner, we are the thinking, responsible ones and we need to be aware of the temperament of our animals and how to train them/adjust accordingly. I am always upset at owners who think others are "silly" to be scared of big dogs charging them. The "he never bites" is the dumbest response. Who cares when you just (&(^& your britches and your own docile dog (on a leash) is scared to death. I love dogs and love to greet other people's dogs, with their permission. But I really get aggravated with dog owners who have the attitude like this lady did. Sorry you had to have that awful experience. Just keep thinking...karma...karma...karma...

We had a Malamute/Mexican grey wolf hybrid. Everyone told us hybrids were dangerous, but we understood pack mentality and we socialized him from the very beginning. He was an absolute sweetheart and honestly believed everyone loved him. He knew he was pretty and he'd do just about anything for belly rubs, ear skritches and Dr Pepper. Not a mean bone in his body despite his lineage.

It's the owner, always.

Due to allergies, I have never had any kind of a pet. Did I mention the allergies?

I respect the fact that dogs are part of the family. But the reason they are not part of MY family is that I would end up in the ER. So in addition to the suggestions above, here is another: Please keep your dog off of me. If you let your dog wander around a store, even on a leash, and it ends up jumping on me, or rubbing against me, I have to go home immediately, change and shower. Usually, that was not part of my shopping plan.

And don't give me a look that says: "What a bitch!" I mean, I AM a bitch, but not for the reason you think.

These dogs used to be bred in a hostile environment. As dog lovers, we should know their instincts and how they react to certain circumstances. Failing to do so may lead to accidents. Good thing you're all good. That is one bad dog, indeed!

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