An Early Morning Soapbox

This morning, as I was feeding Little Bear, I was scrolling through Facebook as I always do. I came across a picture that I, for some reason, felt compelled to comment on:

My opinion of this picture was basically this; that it made me sad to see such a young puppy with his ears cropped, and also that the adult dog was, frankly, hideous. I think the specific words I used were “an abomination of irresponsible breeding”. Maybe that phrase was a little dramatic but, at that moment, that’s how I felt. A big part of me feels incredibly and intensely sorry that poor dog. He has obviously been bred for the specific reason of looking like that (I say that because how do you even describe that look? Seriously, if he were a human he would be a cast member on the Jersey Shore.), and for no other reason. He may be good at obedience but certainly can’t perform any athletic activities. Truly, if he were even to attempt to run I fear he might pass out before he got more than 5 yards. And what kind of life is that for a dog? He will undoubtably have knee and hip problems from too much weight being put on his joints. I just find it incredibly unfair to breed a dog to look a certain way when you know that it’s going to cause the dog problems and possibly make him be in pain.

Well, clearly my point of view on this photo is not shared by the others that were commenting because there were many negative responses being thrown my way. I was, to my own admission, unaware that this is actually a breed of dog called an “American Bully”, a mix of APBT, Staffie, and Mastiff. And they all look like this. Once I was made aware of that fact I was even more disturbed. Mostly by the fact that I, as well as a lot of other people I know, have been referring to these dogs as a fad by Pit Bull breeders and calling them “Hippo Pits”. But also as a Bully advocate that 1) People are going to automatically associate this dog with Pitties. Because they associate every breed of dog that looks any where close to this with Pitties. So now not only is there another breed of dog for us as advocates to protect, but there’s also another breed of dog for us to try to keep out of shelters. 2) While I’m sure that these dogs have a great temperament (given the types of dogs they are bred from), they all have cropped ears and look like they they’ve been hitting the juice pretty hard. Which will make people think they are aggressive, because people judge dogs on how they look. Which again, as advocates, makes our job that much harder. 3) We already have a HUGE problem of Bullies overcrowding our shelters, and until that gets under control I believe that breeding should be very limited. We just don’t need any more dogs and puppies being sold by backyard breeders when there are thousands of good dogs dying in shelters everyday. RESPONSIBLE breeding, for the betterment of the breed, is one thing, But this is clearly not that! This is breeding a dog for a look and that is all.

The other problem people seemed to have about my comment was the cropping of the puppies ears. I got responses like “Do you know ANYTHING about dogs? You have to chop their ears off before they’re twelve weeks so that they heal properly and they’ll be in less pain.” I was done with being in a “Facebook fight” at that point, because it’s stupid and trivial. But here’s what I said to myself. “Uh yeah, I do know something about dogs, probably a lot more than you do! And what you’re saying is that you have to cut a dogs ears off, and you should do it while they’re young so that they’re in less pain.” Now, I’m one that is against ear cropping. Period. It doesn’t matter what breed of dog it is, Dobie, Dane, or Pittie, there is absolutely no reason other than a cosmetic one to crop a dog’s ears. And why, if you love dogs would you want it to be an ANY pain at all?? And one more point, as far as AmStaff’s go, when it comes to show dogs the AKC prefers natural ears. So there goes your cosmetic argument. It just upsets me. And that’s my personal opinion…which I’m entitled to and don’t need fifteen people calling me stupid or ignorant when I express it.

So there, that was my soapbox for the day.

 

Why I Don’t Go To The Dog Park

Before I had Little Bear and became a SAHM I had been working with dogs for about five years. I worked at doggie day cares and, when I found out I was pregnant, was in the process of starting my own dog walking business (which has been put on hold, hopefully not indefinitely). I spent 90% of my time in the company of large groups of dogs. Not to mention controlling large groups of dogs. This experience, I think, makes me better inclined to understand the nuances of dog “language” and behavior than your average pet owner.

A lot of people think that the dog park and doggie day care are basically the same environment: lots of dogs running around and playing in an enclosed space. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as there’s one BIG difference between day care and a dog park. Day care is a CONTROLLED environment! Whereas the dog park is basically a free for all.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that dogs are like kids, their “parents” generally think they can do no wrong. And it’s these puppy parents that make going to the dog park an absolute nightmare for others.

I recognize that Rooney needs a spot of training and is generally as rambunctious as a bull in a china shop. He’s also a bit of an, ahem, hump magnet. Contrary to popular belief this has nothing to do with sex. It’s a dominance thing. And as evidenced by the fact that Rooney is bossed around by twelve pound Polo he is NOT a dominant creature. Which all the other dogs at the park immediately recognize and so feel the need to assert their…ummm…dominance over him. In the form of humping. Sometimes two at a time. It’s not a pretty picture. Eventually Rooney will get tired of this less than polite behavior and do something about it. He’ll generally warn whatever dog is currently expressing it’s dominance over him by turning around and snapping. Read: warn. Snapping doesn’t mean he’s going to bite. It is his way of telling another dog that he has HAD ENOUGH and they need to stop…now.

Unfortunately, because he’s a Pit Bull, uneducated owners wrongly assume that he’s going to attack their sweet, precious, wouldn’t hurt a fly Golden Retriever; even though it’s the Golden (Or whatever other dog has decided to see that Rooney knows who’s boss.) that is exhibiting the bad behavior. He’s come home with scratch marks on his belly from another dog’s dew claws and once someone even bit him on his, uh, manhood.

But the dog discrimination doesn’t stop there. We’ve had incidents of Rooney and another dog innocently playing and the other dog’s owner will begin to freak out that our dog is attacking their dog! Seriously? Do you not know the difference between play and aggression? Sure it gets a little loud and boisterous, and I’ll even give you that Rooney is very vocal when he’s playing. But don’t you think that if your dog was in any danger from my BIG SCARY PIT BULL that I would try to stop it?!? Apparently not.

Once the owner of another dog actually kicked Rooney. To say this didn’t go over well is an understatement. Don’t kick my dog. You’re going to see repercussions. Period. Would you kick my child? No? Well you just did.

After the the kicking incident there has been a ban on the dog park in our house. It’s just too much drama. Every time we go something crazy happens and we have to leave early. If only dog owners would admit that their dogs have faults, be aware of what triggers their pets, and, you know, have some control over them! Then the park would be a much happier…and safer…place for all! Until that happens we’ll be sticking to supervised play dates with dogs we know!