Such a heartwarming photo….at least that is what most of you are thinking when you look at this picture. I say most of you because, I know that some of you, the ones who understand why dogs bite, are cringing right now. You are cringing because you know as I do that to a dog, this baby’s innocent kiss on the head is an invasion of the dog’s personal space. Parent’s think this is an adorable photo op, and I must admit it does make an adorable picture, but aesthetics aside, what it is, is a child presenting itself in all the wrong ways to an animal capable of doing some serious damage should it take the notion. At the moment this photo was captured this dog was very calm, but that does not mean the dog will be in the same state of mind the next time this baby decides to be affectionate.
Now before you all start throwing things at me, I am not saying that every family dog is going to bite a child that kisses it on top of the head. What I am saying is that we need to teach our children how to properly interact with the family dog from a very early age. What we see pictured here is not proper interaction for a number of reasons, chief of which is the fact that the child has approached the dog from above which a dog can perceive as a threatening body language depending upon it’s state of mind at the time.
I have a neighbor with a six year old daughter. She saw my dogs and decided she wanted one of her own. Her parents are very indulgent so Daddy went out and bought her a dog. Not a puppy but a two year old unfixed male french bulldog/pug cross. He was a cute little thing, but he had attitude and it was obvious to me that the dog needed training, and the little girl needed lessons in properly interacting with her dog. (and perhaps hearing the word NO once in a while wouldn’t have hurt her either!) I say this because this little girl treated her new pet like a stuffed animal. She carted him around everywhere she went and barely gave him a moments peace. I knew that it wouldn’t be long before a dog bite happened.
I spoke to my neighbors explaining that they needed to take their dog for training, and that their daughter should be taught that her dog is a living thing, and must be treated properly and not carted about like a favorite toy. Mom understood, but Daddy was having none of it! His daughter could do no wrong, it was her dog and it had better behave itself!
I took their dog into my home and began the search, but not before sitting down with Mom while Daddy was off at work and explaining to her that it is not the dog that was responsible for the bite but her and her husband. They had failed to work with their child to ensure she handled her pet properly. They had failed to supervise her interactions with the animal and had allowed her to treat it as a possession instead of a living breathing being. Mom understood, but as I left that house with their dog I knew that Daddy would win out and this child would never be taught to treat animals properly.
We want a world free of abuse and euthanasia yet we do not teach our children to respect the life of an animal. How sad is that?
WE ARE THEIR ONLY VOICE!