Saturday, 30 July 2011

A Dog Is Still A Dog

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.


  1. Chatty Baby I think it's great that you did this post. I expect there may be some controversy on this subject, but I agree with you. And children need to be taught early on the right way to interact with animals and respect them. Too many people send their kids to stroke a stranger's dog without asking and it is irresponsible. Good job CB

  2. I agree. Obviously I feel awful for the little girl and everyone involved - but if we're going to keep animals as pets, we have to remember what they are and stop treating them like little furry humans with human awareness and human conscience. I'm extra wary of dogs because I've never had one and I know I can't read their body language, unlike cats. I don't approach strange dogs and I'm super vigilant if the Bat is around animals. Some dog owners have actually been quite snotty with me because I wanted the Bat to approach them slowly and carefully - people, however lovely your dog may be, I don't know that and I'm going to be cautious when my toddler meets a predator that's capable of doing her serious damage! When I was small, a girl in my class had a chunk taken out of her chin and lower lip by her own pet dog that she'd had for years. This stuff happens.

  3. Thanks AM. I know it's something a lot of people feel strongly about. M & D are very keen to make sure I know to ask people first before I stroke their dog. Daddy was astounded a few months back when some children came running up to Hairy Dog and started rubbing his ears and cuddling him. Now, he's very friendly and loves children, but he wears a muzzle when he's out because he's a bit nervous around other dogs. The parents didn't seem in the least bit concerned - weird.

  4. Thanks Gingembre. I can't believe people would be snotty with you for being a responsible parent! It's just a sensible idea. You're quite right to be cautious. Some of the signs are really subtle that very few people see them.

  5. Hey CB, you got it in one here. I grew up with dogs and am truely amazed at home people treat them as almost human.. they are dogs, pack animals and any dog will attack not just the scary looking one...

  6. You're quite right Frankie, I just think it's a shame that some of the bigger breeds get such a bad press (and Hairy Dog is pretty big!) when smaller dogs bit at least as often if not more - they're more likely to be treated like toys, but because they don't have so much force as the big dogs, people don't think it's so serious. As this sad story shows, the little dogs can be just as nasty.


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