Article submitted by Mark Hatfield.
Let’s talk about dogs.
I don’t just like dogs, I love dogs, at least most dogs. I’ve not always had one but when I’ve had, it was a very important part of my life.
There are different kinds of dogs and by this I don’t mean breeds such as poodles or labradors, rather kinds such as pets or ‘working dogs’. Some owners may have three ‘kinds’ of dogs and there may be some overlap. Let’s call them categories ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’.
The ‘A’ dog is the household pet. The ‘A’ dog if very small may never even go outside though many ‘A’ dogs are large or very large. It sleeps on the floor near the masters bed or perhaps even in the childrens beds. It licks the childrens faces. Kids pull its tail, it ignores them or moves away. Very young children may sleep on top of it. It sees the infants and toddlers as puppies of its own family. The ‘A’ dog will sometimes seem to be ignoring the children but it is always concerned for their safety and responds to anything which it perceives as a threat to them.
The classic ‘B’ dog is the barnyard dog. The ‘B’ dog is purely an outdoor dog. He is never groomed or bathed. He never needs his nails trimmed as they are always worn down. The ‘B’ dog has free run of the property. He may have no, some, or a lot of training. He could be the highly trained sheepdog which can control and guard the flock even without human assistance, he may simply help in bringing the cattle herd to the barn, or he may be just somebody who hangs around. The ‘B’ dog will play with the kids, they may retrieve sticks or balls, they may play tag, chasing or following you, or maybe not, but they will always be a sentinel. They will give the alert if a stranger approaches ‘their’ property and may defend it.
The traditional ‘C’ dog is the hunting dog. The ‘C’ dog is confined to a kennel unless released, under control, for exercise, training, or to work. He is there for a purpose, one purpose, trained for that purpose, and that is it. There’s quite a lot of variety of hunting dogs. Some are trained to locate a specific type of bird and then stand motionless, pointing to where it is. Others will find and bring back a bird which has been killed and fallen from the sky. Some dogs are more like Marines. While not dangerous to their handler, these dogs will find, close with, and fight dangerous animals which are larger than themselves, animals which can kill them. They distract the beast it until the handler can kill it. It is common for these dogs to be injured, sometimes seriously, sometimes killed. Yet even when injured they will get back into the fight, however, if one should bit their handler it’s by mistake while in the confusion of battle.
If a toddler, in their innocence, approaches an ‘A’ dog and removes a bone from its mouth, the dog may gently take it back, or may lick the childs face, or groan and say ‘Why are you bothering me?’. If the same child does the same to a ‘B’ dog, he may get bitten, do the same to a ‘C’ dog and he will get bitten. We have a tendency to say that the ‘A’ dog was good and that the others were bad, but that is not true, they are simply acting true to their nature. The ‘B’ and ‘C’ dogs have not been socialized and taught to accept the child like their own puppy as was the ‘A’ dog. At a very young age the children are taught this about these dogs.
Many dogs instinctively use a system identical as is taught to Law Enforcement officers, this is ‘Ask, Tell, Make’. This is, if the officer needs someone to do something, such as ‘be quiet’ or ‘go over there’, the officer first simply asks them to do it. If the person fails to comply they may be told or ordered to do it, then as a last resort, made to do it. This is a version of a concept known as ‘Escalation of Force’. Dogs sometimes do the same thing. Say a child is annoying the ‘A’ dog, the dog may move away. The child persists then the dog may growl. The parents get mad at the dog and the growling is not allowed but remember, the dog is simply trying to communicate that ‘This really bothers me’. The dog may even get to the point of the ‘open mouth bunt’. This can occur if the child actually hurts the dog especially if it happens by surprise. The dog opens its mouth and rams the kid straight on with its nose. This is a very serious warning. The dog has done no injury and does not intend to but this is often mistaken for an attempt to bite, though many ‘A’ dogs will simply attempt to get further away from the kid and an intelligent parent will intervene and stop the child.
So…Why am I talking about dogs. There are people who were not raised around dogs, have never had a dog, never even been near one. There are people who know little about dog behavior or what they think they know is wrong. They think they know about dogs because they have seen them many times in Disney movies, Scooby Do, psycho movies about demon dogs, or TV shows where the dogs are killers used by drug dealers.
Can you imagine if someone who doesn’t know how to cook and has never cooked, goes to a chef and demands the chef change what they do in order to make the food taste better? We would say that is ridiculous. Should people with no knowledge or mostly wrong knowledge be able to tell other people how to do something? If someone lives in a city apartment and another person lives on a farm, is it OK for the city person to tell the farmer that he can have a house dog but can’t have a farm dog?
With dogs, misleading information is sometimes put out by the news media who are trying to make a story more exciting. Sometimes the information is just plain false. People not familiar with dogs do not recognize when that is being done. Now there are people with strong opinions about dogs, or about which dogs are dangerous based on information which is wrong. Some even tell ‘dog people’ how to control their dogs and which types of dogs should or should not be allowed. Even if they have the best of intentions, this is wrong and very foolish. I hope this message is clear and no one misunderstands, for this message of this article is not about dogs, it is about guns.