By Doug Kelly
Just the other day, one of President Biden’s two German Shepherds bit a White House security agent. The two dogs are being transferred back to Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware.
It’s upsetting to see things like that happen, but unfortunately a dog cannot tell its side of the story. Was the dog provoked, mistreated? Probably not, and any incident involving dog-bites-human is unfortunate. However, it’s a good bet those dogs feel a bit of owner neglect. After all, quite understandably Joe and Jill probably can’t give them the same attention as before January 20th.
The reason I’m so sensitive about dog-bite stories is because some dogs get a bum rap. Take pit bulls, for instance. I don’t know the population of Pit Bull Terriers in the world, but the percentage who attack humans is likely miniscule.
At the same time, it’s logical that a large dog such as a Pit Bull or a German Shepherd charging and snapping can be a frightening and even deadly experience. But we never hear about small dogs attacking anyone because they’re easy to fend off. Given the oftentimes ornery character of some small breeds such as Chihuahuas, if they grew to be upwards of 80 pounds or more, we’d likely hear far more assault stories.
Pet owners know that if pets get treated with love and kindness, it’s returned a hundredfold. If instead they’re beaten, kicked or neglected, they’re going to act out. Force dogs to fight and be mean, and no breed will be affectionate.
I speak with some authority here because I’ve now owned two pit bulls in succession – Cocoa and now Amber. Before that, my parents always kept one breed or another in the family household: Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Irish Setters and Labrador Retrievers. The dogs shared our living spaces rather than in dog houses. Even so, I grew up somewhat disinterested in our pets. I never mistreated them, but I also didn’t get to really know them beyond occasional petting and games of fetch. My life and that of our dogs entailed parallel existences.
That all changed with Cocoa in 2008. My wife-to-be Kelly called from her home in Clearwater. “My son just brought home a puppy,” she exclaimed.
“Really?” said I. “What breed?”
“A Pit Bull,” she answered.
I went apoplectic. “OMG, get rid of it immediately before you get attached. Those mean-spirited animals will sooner or later bite your face off.”
She didn’t listen.
Several months later I moved from my home in Tampa to hers in Clearwater. Warily at first, I gradually became acquainted with Cocoa. And then, as if sprinkled with magic dust, an awakening occurred that I’d never experienced with a four-legged creature.
I fell in love with Cocoa. Totally. Soulfully. An emphatic, electric human-canine connection.
That bond grew stronger until you couldn’t separate Cocoa and I with a crowbar. Cocoa became a loving companion, a devoted friend. I immediately recognized and regretted the shallowness of my past dog relationships. I appreciated the added dimension she brought to our lives.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a dog owner; those who haven’t probably aren’t. I understand that, and so be it. But for those of us who do treasure our furry friends, you’ll recognize and appreciate these special traits:
- Door greetings become momentous occasions.
- Affixing a leash for walks gets those tails wagging like a metronome on speed.
- Speaking of walks, it’s fun to witness the unbridled enthusiasm of your doggy picking up a scent while sniffing around.
- Promising treats if they’ll eat a just-opened can of dog food never works (yes, they’ll wait until convinced that no more table-food leftovers are forthcoming).
- They know on which side of the bed to sleep.
- Replacing couches would be a waste of money.
- Objects of value left around (like Kelly’s driver’s license!) can result in bite marks.
- Even though they clearly don’t like it, they allow us at times to fit them with silly hats and costumes.
- The realization that your dog possesses a much different personality than your last dog.
- Stern words rather than corporal punishment get your dog’s attention well enough.
- It’s fun seeing their happy faces in your car’s rear-view mirror as they enjoy a backseat open window.
- It’s amusing when they bark at the TV when a dog appears but can’t quite figure out where it is.
- Petting releases stress.
- And last but not least, receiving the ultimate gift of getting even more love from a dog than that which we give.
Just for grins (and this blog), I thought of a few phonetic names for dog breeds: Dock son, Call Lee, Bea Gull, Ms. Tiff, Terry Err, Pick A Knees. Can you come up with – pardon even more word play! – any other Pet Agrees?
If you love your dog, go give him or her a hug right now for no particular reason – it will make you both happy.
Feature photo by Jamie Street on Pixabay