We all have flaws and while we don’t all always see our own image as clear as possible in the mirror, we have to hope for some semblance of self awareness and also that this self awareness will result in growth. Maybe “flaw” is a strong word. At work we talk about strengths and opportunities, so maybe that is a better characterization. When it comes to my dogs first and pit bull type dogs in general, I know that my strength and opportunity lie in the fact that the propensity for them to be unfairly judged for anything is real and abiding and yet I know that I will go to any length to defend them, thus nearly every reaction stems from how it may affect me or my dogs. It also tends to make me more unforgiving towards other dogs.
Recently we were at a fundraiser which was held at a local bar with a “paw friendly” patio. The fundraiser was for a cause very dear to me and while the weather was hot, the evening promised to be chock-full of fun. As dog lovers filtered through the outdoor patio with their pooches in tow the evening seemed to be headed for one of laid-back joy and fun. As I stood just inside the gate listening to the speech, welcoming us and explaining the mission of Pet Promises for whom the fundraiser was benefiting, a lady walked in to stand just behind and beside me with her little red cattle dog. The man sitting behind me immediately engaged this woman in conversation as he apparently owned a blue heeler, who was, of course, “the best dog in the world.”
I glanced at them a couple of times throughout the speech that was being given as they weren’t quiet and were certainly drowning out some of the speech, at least for me. As often tends to happen during speeches, people are acknowledged and others applaud. As I was trying to balance a drink in one hand and do my best to offer more than just a golf clap, I soon, adjusted my arms and at the appropriate time offered up some applause. At that exact moment, the little red cattle dog sprang from her sitting position nearly 5 feet away and nipped my arm, but good.
The woman was horrified and immediately regained control of her dog, apologizing the entire time but to be honest, the numerous emotions and thoughts that coursed through my heart and head would have none of it. The very first thought through my head (besides “ow”) was “If my dog did that to anyone, they’d be screaming about a Pit Bull attack.” My skin wasn’t broken but it was certainly bruised for several days and while I know that the lady was “sorry” and upset, I couldn’t bring myself to utter words of forgiveness or consolation. Less than 10 minutes later she and her dog were leaving and I knew in my heart that while it wasn’t anyone’s fault and that she must have been feeling horrified, I could not, would not offer any clemency by word or deed. I could not forgive her or her dog for an act that, had it been done by one of my dogs would have been magnified tenfold. (Note: not by those who know and advocate for my guys but just in general.)
So to you, I ask, what do you say when someone says “I’m sorry” to you and the last thing you could possibly utter is, “That’s ok.”
Glad to hear you weren’t badly hurt. This is a tricky one, no her dog shouldn’t have reacted like that, but having lived with a reactive dog, if she was trying to train her dog to help with the reactivity and stop the bite tendencies than not having your forgiveness might put her off trying something similar, taking him/her out to another event, and we both know that in training repetition is key and avoidance is never good.
But you also make a good point, bull breeds should not be judged or treated as harshly as they are and forgiveness shouldn’t be given if it was just a DADO (dumb as dog owner) and perhaps not saying “it’s ok” it the lesson she needs.
Glad to hear you are not badly hurt
I am sorry you got hurt. I totally agree with the above comment. Avoidance is never good, but when working on behavior since the dog is reactive, it needs to be done with the help of a professional. A person well versed in canine body language would have picked up that the dog was ready to snap. What to say? I don’t know. Perhaps, “Talk to a trainer that can provide your dog with behavior and basic obedience before he bites again.”
I should clarify. That dog was not really being anything other than a cattle dog. I don’t feel as though I was attacked or that the dog actually was trying to do anything but play. Other than that incident she was well behaved and they weren’t working in training but just enjoying an evening out. I’m more upset that even if my dog was playing and nipped a stranger the incident would be a full blown event. Now, do I think she should have had more control over the leash? Absolutely. Do I think that when we take our dogs out in public that our #1 responsibility is to be aware and be safe? Absolutely.
I am totally with you. My last 3 dogs were all pit bull mixes and I knew that my dogs for the mere fact that they were pit bulls would have to be well behaved. I got my dogs to do Obedience I, II, CGC and a lot of behavior modification. Why did I do all that? Because I love them and the least I could have done for them is to make sure that they were safe and listened to me.