I’ve been around dogs most of my life. My dad had dogs, beagles, and when I was in kindergarten, he spent a lot of time teaching me how to be safe around them. In fact, “Leave the dog alone, Missy,” was what he said the most when I was a kid. Although I wanted to play with them, Dad knew that I was too young to know how to behave around them, and he was vigilant to make sure that I didn’t get hurt. Consequently, even though I’ve been around dogs all my life, I’ve never been hurt by one.
Because I grew up around dogs, I like dogs, so when I got older, I got my own. I’ve had little, decorative dogs – Penny Mousse was a five pound teacup poodle that I took everywhere with me in a backpack. Nikita, on the other hand, was nicknamed “The Large, Wolf-Like Beast.” A 75-pound Norwegian Elkhound, he could strike fear into the heart of even the most devout dog-lover. Although he was intimidating to look at, he was well-trained and dignified, and he never hurt a soul.
Bindi, the dog I have now, is a prototype dog. I believe that when God originally designed the dog, it probably looked a lot like Bindi. She’s just the right size and shape. She’s not too big, and she’s not too small. She’s not yappy, and although her bark is fierce, it’s not going to make people hit the floor in fear. Her teeth all fit inside her mouth. Her snout is long enough so she doesn’t snore; her floppy ears protect her hearing and her white, fluffy coat, waggy tail, and two big black and brown spots – one in the middle of her back and one at the base of her tail – would make her perfect for a dog food advertising campaign.
I really like having Bindi around. Especially at night, when my husband is not at home. I feel safer, just knowing she is in the house. I know that if a burglar is targeting my house, just seeing Bindi, or even hearing her, would make that burglar reconsider. I read an article years ago that said that felons convicted of home invasion and robbery said that the best deterrent against a home invasion is a dog. If a robber knows that there’s a dog in the house, he’ll move on. Even a little yappy dog is more dog than any criminal wants to deal with. Which is why, even though 99.99999 % of the time I know it’s just the UPS guy at the door, I still feel safer knowing that my dog is right behind me.
I’ve trained with them, so all my dogs have been safe around other people. I also feel safer out in public if my dog is with me. If I”m walking in the forest preserve, I believe I’m far less likely to be the target of someone with evil intent simply because I have my dog with me. Even the stupidest criminal understands that my dog can go from perfectly harmless and friendly into overdrive protective mode in a matter of seconds.
Most of the time, though, my dog is pure laziness. If I’m not there with her, she spends all her time sleeping. But, whenever it’s time to work on something, it’s a lot of fun training with her. The more I work with my dog, the more skilled we both become.
I know there are some people out there who are just not dog people. For whatever reason, they are scared of dogs. Maybe they were never been around dogs much as a child. Maybe they were scared by a dog as a kid and never got over it. I can understand their fear. Moreover, I don’t expect them to like my dog just because she’s my dog. I would never force someone who is afraid of my dog to be around her. I also believe, however, that with some patience and education, even the most timid person can overcome his fear enough to be able to function around dogs safely. And anyone who works with dogs will tell you that if you don’t like dogs, or you are scared of dogs, you probably shouldn’t own one.
It’s true that some people just don’t know how to handle dogs. In some inner city cultures, vicious dogs are a status symbol for shallow, egotistical, insecure young men who confuse scariness with masculinity. These dogs, used for illegal fighting, are nothing more than tools to perpetuate a culture of thuggery and death.
Other people are just stupid around dogs. In their ignorance, their dogs can be put in a position where, through no fault of their own, the dog can endanger, or even kill a child. No one doubts that this is tragic. Fortunately, however, of the millions of dogs in this country, only a minute percentage of dogs ever hurt anybody. Then those dogs are taken away and put down, and usually their owners are prohibited from owning dogs in the future.
Do some people own dogs who shouldn’t? Sure. But the vast majority of dog owners find dogs to be safe. They are useful. They can deter predators from attacking livestock. If you know what you’re doing, they are fun to play with. They come in an infinite variety, from a tiny Maltese lapdog to a big fluffy Great Pyrenees. Dogs have been designed to serve a variety of purposes – clearing barns of rats, guarding property, protecting livestock, and even taking down criminals. Some dogs are even trained to serve in the military.
Our country has a long history of working with dogs. Nowadays, we even have entire stores dedicated to their care and well-being. I’m sure people from other countries come here and are amazed that we spend so much time and energy and money on our dogs — food, training tools, toys, sweaters and care. We rent large buildings and get together on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings to meet up with other dog owners and work together on improving our skills. We have dog shows, where people can go and learn about all different types of dogs. It’s nice to know that when you’re working with other dog people, it’s probably the safest place you and your dog can be. You know you are working with people who know what they’re doing, and that their dog’s safety, and yours, is of paramount importance to them.
I admit, I don’t like all dogs. Some dogs are scary, even to me. I don’t understand why some people want to have a pit bull terrier. But that’s just my own prejudice, and I know people who have pitties that are sweet and harmless. As for me, I just don’t think they’re pretty dogs. And I know that, statistically speaking, you are more likely to be bitten by a poodle or a Chihuahua than by a pit bull. But a pit bull definitely looks scarier than a poodle, and this is why ignorant people try to pass laws banning pit bulls. I used to think that position had some merit. But through the years I’ve done a lot of work with educational organizations such as Best Friends, and their information has convinced me that breed bans don’t work. Nevertheless, every time a small child is hurt by a dog, some people immediately think, “Pit bull,” and call for a breed ban. It can get tiresome, trying to educate people who are pulling out their hair and shrieking with emotion, “But if it saves just ONE CHILD’S LIFE . . . !” that breed bans don’t work. But through persistence and education, hopefully someday people will start putting the facts ahead of their own prejudices and emotion and understand that dogs are here to stay.
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Some of you may have probably figured out where I’m going here. For those who haven’t, substitute the word “firearm” for the word “dog” in the foregoing article. See if your desire to confiscate guns and abolish firearm ownership still holds up under analysis. If you’re honest with yourself, it won’t.
If, on the other hand, substituting the word “firearm” for “dog” makes you want to abolish dog ownership, then you should probably go ahead and admit it: You are a totalitarian at heart.