Shiva was attacked this morning. Regardless of her injuries, it probably wouldn’t make the news.
We were walking through a different part of the forest that is strictly on-leash. Due to this rule we don’t walk through this section as often as others but Shiva and I go through there at least a couple of times a week. Anyway, we were strolling along, Shiva was sniffing some bushes just off the side of the pathway, when the distinct sound of high-pitched barking caught both of our attentions. Simultaneously, I swear, we both looked up. There was a wee brown poofball of a dog running toward us growling and barking, fury evident in the animal’s fast approach. There wasn’t enough time to turn around and move in the opposite direction so I just stepped in front of Shiva and tried to back her into the bushes, hoping the dog’s owner would be shortly on the scene.
Shiva’s reactivity towards other dogs has vastly improved. If this event had occurred six months ago there is no way I would have been able to control her. This morning she amazed me with how well she handled the situation. As we backed into the bushes the little dog followed us. Shiva tugged a little to get passed me for a better look but she remained silent and obedient, her ears plastered to the back of her head.
The little dog followed our every movement, doing its best to get behind me. I tried throwing out some kibble hoping the dog would chase after it but he or she was not to be distracted from the main target: Shiva. Once, just as the owners were coming around the corner, it lunged for her foot and nipped. Shiva shocked me by simply letting out a little woof and then looking up at me. I backed up further and put out my foot, not touching the dog, just to put some more distance between us. Though if the owners hadn’t been there I probably would have done a lot more.
Thankfully, the man who I assume is responsible for the little tyrant came to the rescue and shooed the dog away further up the path. Only now did Shiva start to bark. Not at the dog, but at the humans. Forgive me, but I almost laughed. Shiva knows what’s what; she knows who to chastise.
It wasn’t so much the incident itself that ticked me off – my dog wasn’t hurt and I know all too well that these things can just happen – but the owners’ attitude about the whole thing. After the little dog had moved on to attack something else, the woman stopped in front of us. She on the path, Shiva and I in the bushes.
“He doesn’t mean anything by it all. He wasn’t going to hurt you.”
I just raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t know that. My dog is scared of dogs that run towards her like that.”
“Well, he was abused, you see, so he just does that in public places. But he never causes harm. He’s too little.”
This had me stunned. All I could get out was, “Well, she’s from the SPCA and has issues as well. That’s why she’s on a leash.”
What I wanted to say was, “But my dog does cause harm. You’re lucky she didn’t toss your little yappy thing into the lake.” But I didn’t because that would give poor Shiva a reputation she doesn’t deserve.
The woman just wandered away, muttering something about how she walks there every day and has never seen anyone else on the path before. I guess not running into many people means it’s okay to let an aggressive dog run around off leash on a very popular urban path.
What bothers me the most, what was causing my teeth to grind all the way home, was the knowledge that if Shiva had done something to defend herself, even just a growl or a snap, she would have been the one to look bad. She would have been the one in trouble. And if she had gone as far as actually making contact with the other dog? Say, if Shiva had been off-leash as well and they had met alone in the woods. While Shiva is not dog aggressive in normal circumstances, if another dog was to attack her, I know she would protect herself. Especially since this particular dog wasn’t letting up. It would be the type to follow her if she tried to just walk away given that it clearly sees the path as its territory. What if in defending herself Shiva had actually hurt this other dog? Which animal would be labeled dangerous? The provoking little chihuahua mix or the defensive large who-knows-what-she-is mix?
It just irks me.
Quite awhile ago now Shiva and I were walking down the street and a different little dog tore out of its yard, barking and heading straight for us. I’ve seen this dog many times but it is usually contained inside a fence while it yaps. The family that owned the dog happened to be outside as well. When they noticed what was going on, the parents sent one of the kids to retrieve their dog.
I heard the woman say, “Oh no! I don’t think that dog is friendly.”
Um, excuse me? My dog, the one walking very nicely by my side on a leash, minding her own business, is unfriendly. But the little dog charging toward us barking its head off is perfectly nice. I see. Maybe I need to get over it but the episode still bugs me.
The thing is, I could go on and on about how many little dogs I have witnessed performing bad behaviour. I could talk about shih-tzus and the yorkies and the pomeranians and about how I am cautious around small dogs because a chihuahua bit me once, but I’m not going to. I’m not going to because breed profiling is ridiculous. It would be ridiculous of me to say that all dogs under a certain height should be banned. That’s crazy. It’s not the dogs, people would shout, but the irresponsible owners.
It’s just as crazy to ban pit bulls and other pit bull-like breeds. Those dogs are no more to blame than that brown froo froo dog was this morning. Every time I see articles or hear stories like the ones I linked to above I worry. The media portrays these incidents in such a way as to make the dogs seem incurably evil. I worry that this province will adopt similar laws to the ones in other countries and in Ontario. I worry that countless more dogs will be shot and killed all because their humans shouldn’t have owned a dog, any dog, in the first place.
It makes me angry and it makes me really sad. It also makes me even more protective of Shiva. If I screw up, if I let her off leash and there is an aggressive little dog around that decides it wants a piece of her, she’s the one taking the fall.