Perhaps it’s because I’m on the hunt for a pet pooch, but it seems that there is a plethora of animal related news in Connecticut today.
The first headline to catch my attention today said that a New Haven woman had been terrorized in her home and that her dog was then pistol whipped. The dog tried to protect the woman, but it ran off — whimpering — when the bad guys hit it. I hope not to be home-invaded, but if I was…I’m pretty sure my cats would do a better job of protecting me than this dog did.
I’m not kidding, I’ve squared off against Ruby — the crazier of my two felines — and she does not back down. Giving her a swat to get off the counter just pisses her off and she’ll come back at you doubly angry. I had to throw myself between her and my friend’s Border Collie when she cornered it in the living room. It was scary.
Now, I’ll admit I tend to like large, surly dogs. I’m a single girl and I hope Gypsys and Travellers think twice about approaching my house to try and swindle me (ask the Asian Persuasion, this happens to me quite often…or at least it does in my mind) and I figure a scary looking dog helps that. I grew up with two German Shepherds, and if there was ever a dog you did not f— with, it was Bear (aka the General). Pistol whipping that dog would have resulted in the intruder losing a face, and then Bear would have just went back to hanging out in the backyard and keeping an eye on my little brother. In other words, you’d have to kill the dog to get to me.
But God help the small animal that wandered into that backyard… which brings me to our next story.
A small dog has been killed by “pitbulls” — this time in Farmington. Now, I’m always dubious of these claims because just about any mutt can be called a “pitbull” these days. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that these dogs were actually some sort of Staffordshire Terrier (what most people picture when they think of a pitbull). Whenever I find myself reading a story about some vicious pitbull that killed a cat or something I think, “Well…duh…dogs chase and sometimes kill cats…it’s what they do.” Don’t get me wrong, I’d be heartbroken if it was my cat, but I also understand that one of the dangers of letting them outside is that they could get hurt.
Yes, dogs once had purposes. They kept rats out of your barn, fought wolves, chased and hunted rabbits, guarded your sheep, and protected your kingdom. Now we’re surprised when they exhibit the behaviors they were bred for…like chasing and eating small animals. There’s nothing wrong with these behaviors…they just need to be managed properly.
I’m always a little more alarmed by a dog that kills another dog. It’s not really natural. A plethora of small animals met their demise in my backyard — from birds to skunks to the occasional cat — but whenever a dog-fight arose (and between the wandering neighborhood Doberman that terrorized people and their dogs, and Bear’s Rottweiler arch-nemesis there were plenty) he always let the other dog call “uncle.” But it still wasn’t pretty…because that’s what dogs do…they fight to show who is boss.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea, we didn’t let the dog be a neighborhood Bully. But the Doberman would get out of its yard and back neighbors up against their fences and go after their dogs. And the Rotti, while a nice dog, hated Bear and had no fence. So if you walked by his house when no one was around to control him, the damn thing would run out into the road to start a fight. Inevitably, Bear would win these neighborhood scuffles and the other dog would end up pinned, by the throat… which is a scary thing to watch. But then he’d let them up. (He was a benevolent dictator.) This is how dogs (especially dominant male dogs), left to their own devices, work out their social order.
And our dogs, being of the smartypants variety seemed to know when a fight just wasn’t worth their time — like when a Cockapoo came after Duke while we were on a walk, and instead of fighting back, he just headbutted the little thing, knocking it over and we were on our way. But not all dogs make this distinction. Either a tiny dog looks like a squirrel or a cat, or they just don’t recognize their own strength and what may have been a normal scuffle between dogs ends up a doggy manslaughter.
“Pitbulls” happen to be plentiful and often belong to irresponsible owners so they end up on the hook for a lot of these situations, but they aren’t the only dogs to ever seriously injure or even kill another dog. In fact, I remember covering a story about a woman whose lab mix (it had long, shaggy fur, so definitely no “pitbull” in there) attacked and seriously injured a puppy — that, I believe, later died. Poor trained, unsocialized dogs of all breeds are dangerous. Which is why I wouldn’t leave my small, defenseless dog alone outside…and why I prefer a dog that can defend itself when confronted with hostile neighborhood troops…of the two or four-legged variety.
And now here is my plug for all the dogs on deathrow at City of Hartford Animal Shelter.