A big fat, juicy worm, anyone? I have a big old can of them just opened! I’ve read a really tragic story today about at two year old girl who’s been attacked by a West Highland White terrier. Don’t worry, she survived, but she’ll be scarred. You can read the full story here, but the gist of it is that the girl and her parents were at their neighbours’ house for the dog’s third birthday party. Yes, you read correctly - the dog’s birthday party.
Now, believe me, I am so sorry that this happened and I feel terrible for the little girl and her family, but the fact that the dog was having a party speaks volumes to me about the way it is treated, and about its perception of itself and others.
A Westie is a terrier. Their instinct is to shake and kill. That’s what they were bred for before they became cute little pets. People forget that. Those little fluffy puppies are still dogs and they should be treated like dogs.
Sure, it’s up to owners to decide whether the dog is given food from the table, or whether he sleeps in their bed, but these ‘lifestyle’ decisions too often cloud their judgement and the beloved pet is mistaken for a human. A dog still needs to know its place – they’re pack animals – and all too often the owners do not give clear enough guidelines, which makes the dog nervous.
We have a dog. We all love him very much, but he is below Daddy and Mummy in the park order. He’s even below me and the chickens! He knows that, and he’s happy because he doesn’t have any stress. He has a great life – he eats well, he goes for long walks, he sleeps a lot, and barks at the postman. He came to our house when he was just seven weeks old, but still Mummy and Daddy wouldn’t trust him with me on his own. As I’ve said already, that’s because he’s a dog.
It shouldn’t make any difference how long you’ve had your pet, or how trustworthy you think he is, or how big it is - instinct is still there. A dog can’t say to someone, “I’m not really in the mood today,” or “Stop that please, I’ve had enough.” Unless you’re watching very closely, you won’t see the warning signs which are always given before an attack.
I think this was a terrible accident and I wouldn’t blame anyone involved. But please, don’t leave a child alone with a dog.