Man’s beast friend

Friendly-looking dog. Picture taken about two minutes after event described in story.
Friendly-looking dog. Picture taken about two minutes after event described in story.

I’m gonna say something REALLY controversial here: large, powerful dogs are not safe pets in an urban area.

This dog and its owners were seated outside a coffee shop in my town. During the half-hour they were here, it gave the pavement a good washing-down with drool, but that wasn’t the interesting part.

During its visit, many people stopped by to greet the dog, pet it, and ask its owners questions. The dog was friendly to all of them, happy for the attention, right up until it wasn’t. A young woman in a dress greeted the dog, reached out to pet it just like six other people had, and suddenly it SNARLED AND SNAPPED AT HER. She dropped her book and jumped back, losing her balance; her boyfriend caught her.

The owners were shocked. “Are you OK?” (to her) “What the HELL?” (to the dog) “Why did he do that? Maybe he didn’t like her dress?” (To each other). They left right away.

Dogs are pack animals; they are deferential to the leader of their pack. Since that’s you, you might be inclined to think your animal is not capable of violence. Indeed the owners assured one person “He won’t bite!”

You might think you know when your dog will snap or bite, but you don’t. This dog had no obvious reason to snap at the young woman. It is probably true that a big dog is no more likely than a small one to bite without warning. But if it does bite, the big dog packs a much bigger punch. The result is like comparing a .357 magnum to a .22 short; there’s a lot more cleanup on aisle 3 if the animal happens to connect. And if that big dog decides to keep up the attack, are you really sure you can control it? Be realistic.


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Older technology guy with photography and history background