Saturday, 28 June 2014

Feeling Ruff

I’d really like to write something cheerful, but right now I’m still absolutely furious about my elderly beagle being attacked by two Weimarinars on Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes you need to let rip.  This is one of those occasions so…everybody stand back!
          If you are thinking about getting a dog, or have recently acquired a dog, please take on board that it is your responsibility, no, DUTY, to teach your dog basic obedience, manners and respect.
          Over the years, I’ve owned many dogs and, with the exception of one, they were all rescue dogs.  I had no idea of their background or why they were no longer wanted.  It is a tough decision taking on a rescue dog when the animal is an unknown quantity.  Has the animal been badly treated?  Could it, as a result, bite?  If you have children, is the dog going to be good with them?  If you have a cat, will the dog be tolerant?  There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself and these are just a few.  Ironically, the only dog I ever had a problem with was one I welcomed as a puppy.
          Many years ago, our ancient family dog – an old Collie by the name of Bob – fathered a litter of twelve puppies.  He was immensely proud of himself, but the effort obviously took it out of him.  Not long afterwards he keeled over.  The owner of the bitch our dog had wooed was, understandably, aghast but blamed herself for not getting her bitch spayed.
          ‘Can you help me out here,’ she asked, ‘and offer one of these puppies a home?’
          So we did.  After all, it would be like having a little bit of Bob.  We named our pup Max.  And he was adorable.  Until a friend’s child, learning to walk, fell on him.  And from that moment on, Max couldn’t abide kids.  And when I say abide, I actually mean detest.
          When my son came along, I dithered about re-homing Max.  A number of questions ran through my head.  What if the re-homing centre in some way failed to properly pass on information, so that the new owner didn’t know this dog abhorred children?  What if his new owner let Max off the lead at a local park, and he bit a child?  I couldn’t risk it.  The alternative decision was to put him to sleep.  That said, the dog had never actually bitten a child.  It was a double dilemma because he was young and fit.  I decided to keep Max and make sure he never had an opportunity to be alone with my baby son.  He’d never been an ‘indoor’ dog.  I think his Collie genes just couldn’t cope with it.  Long ago we’d turned one of the stables into a heated kennel, and fenced off a large section of paddock as an outdoor run with external shelter.  So when my son was finally born, the house was a safe environment.  And whenever Max encountered my son outside, he was always on a lead.  Strangely, he never gave my son a second glance.  But with anybody else’s child, he was a nightmare.
          There was one heart-stopping moment when a mother, toddler in a buggy, ventured into our private stable yard unannounced while Max was loose.  The dog zoomed off, like a greyhound after a hare, skidded to a halt in front of the buggy, and gave one deep baritone bark before zooming back to me.  I was expecting hysterics from the mother and thinking, ‘This is it, I’m finally going to have to have him put to sleep.’  Fortunately the mother acknowledged she had come onto private property with a sign that screamed BEWARE OF THE DOG, and thank God her child was unharmed.  But it was a horrendous moment.  The whole ‘what should I do about this dog’ situation was resolved when Max was diagnosed with unexpected bone cancer, and had to be put to sleep anyway.  I would be a liar if I didn’t say that, despite the tears, there was also a sense of relief.
          If you know your dog is unpredictable, can’t stand the postman, the dustman, bike riders, and has issues with other dogs, cats, or children, then it is up to you to take every step possible to ensure that your dog doesn’t cause an accident or bring harm to others.  Letting your dog off the lead and ‘hoping for the best’ is just not on.
          The last time my current dog was attacked was by a traveller’s dog.  Afterwards, I went out and bought one of those tennis ball launcher dog toys.  The plastic handle is absolutely ace for bashing the cr*p out of an offending dog.  Regrettably, after moving to our new abode, I stopped carrying the tennis ball launcher out on walks with pooch stupidly thinking it was no longer necessary.  However, if my dog recovers from this attack, I most definitely will be arming myself with it.  So, owners of unpredictable dogs, WATCH OUT!  Which reminds me.
          Mrs Green was walking to the Post Office when her neighbour came up to her and said, ‘Hello, Mrs Green, how’s your dog?  I saw it yesterday chasing an old man on a bicycle.’  ‘That wasn’t my dog,’ said Mrs Green.  ‘Are you sure?’ asked the neighbour.  ‘Most definitely,’ said Mrs Green, ‘my dog can’t ride a bicycle…’


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