Friday, July 16, 2010

Dog Racist

The Big Brave German Shepherd

If you know me, or you know this blog, you know that I have a German Shepherd. He's big. A lot bigger than German Shepherds tend to be. A male GSD generally tops out at around 95 pounds. 100 pound shepherds aren't completely unheard of. But Big, the Big Brave German Shepherd, is 130 pounds.

That's why we call him Big. We weren't going for irony.

And being a German Shepherd mom, I am well aware that there are people out in the world who are wary of the breed because one bad experience or another. When Joe and I were first discussing the possibility of a dog, I suggested a German Shepherd because, growing up, we had had a fantastic shepherd (Sheba). Joe had the opposite experience. Every shepherd he and his family came across was aggressive and mean. Therefore, Joe had come to the conclusion that all GSDs were crazy.

I worked with a kid a few years back who had also come to the same conclusion. We were processing shipment one afternoon when the subject of dogs came up. He asked me what kind of dog I had and I told him.

"Oh," the kid said then. "I don't like German Shepherds. They're all crazy!"

So I asked him what made him think that way. And he told me. Here's how it started:

"So this one time, I was running from the cops..."

Ah ha. I think we've found the problem.

But anyway, I'm used to the wariness and outright fear whenever Big and I are out about town. Last month, we were walking around Settler's Green (me, Big and the Gator Girl) and this one shopper froze, actually froze, in her steps when she saw us coming and then ran up a grassy knoll and hid behind her shopping bags. If she could have scaled the side of the building guarding her back, I think she would have.

"She's, uh, afraid of dogs," her husband offered as we walked past.

Yeah, thanks. I actually figured that out on my own.

But them's the breaks. I don't take it personally.

Today, though, I had an experience that really annoyed me.

I had taken the dogs with me when I went out to do errands today even though it was hot and humid because none of the errands were very long or demanding and the dogs have been shut up in the house too much of late. The drawback to having a sea of hay where your lawn used to be.

Need fence now.

Anyway, one of our errands took us to the library when I dropped off a box of VHS tapes to donate to their annual book and movie sale that's coming up (I said I'd work on de-cluttering the house. I guess I just took the first step). I brought the box inside and then went to get back in the car.

Big was sitting in the back seat. The window was down as far as it would go. It doesn't go down all the way in the backseat, only the front seats. He's always very calm in the car. The only time he makes any noise is if there's a rampant rampaging Malinois trying to tear his ears off or if he sees his arch nemesis, Dowa. But he shouldn't be faulted for that. I too growl whenever I see Dowa.

But the rest of the time, Big is quiet. It doesn't matter if he sees other dogs. He doesn't care about them. Not one whit.

Now that the scene is set, let me continue. I was getting into the car when a group came out of the library and into the parking lot. They had with them a pomeranian. Off leash. I've ranted on more than one occasion about the evils of off leash dogs in public places so I won't do that again...tonight. But I sat and I waited for the people and their little dog too to make their way through the parking lot to their car. While I sat and waited, Big watched.

One of them women noticed Big watching her dog and Lost. It. (Coincidentally, the Gator Girl had also Lost. It. She does not like dogs being off leash.) She ran toward her precious puff ball (who was busy pissing on the pay phone) and scooped him up in her arms. I stared. The rest of her group stared. Big stared too. The Gator Girl continued her fit.

One of the woman's friends asked if she was all right. The woman said she was.

"I was just-" she said, "worried, you know? I mean, you never know when one of them will go through a window."

The them was directed at Big the dog who had done absolutely nothing, hadn't even moved and probably hadn't even blinked, since she and Precious Poofy had appeared.

Big and I actually exchanged glances with one another. Then we went back to watching. Mostly because they were now standing in front of the car.

"Precious (not the dog's real name) would be a snack for one of them."

I use italics here for a reason because there's no other way really to convey online the fact that the woman had an actual tone when talking about Big. And not a friendly tone either.

Any dog can be mean, lady. It's not a breed thing. Any dog can be a nutjob. Look at the members of Big's new agility class...Sorry, I digress.

There are plenty of insane pomeranians out in the world running around attacking people's ankles and pant legs. Just because it's puffy and five pounds, doesn't make that behavior above reproach or something. The fault lies with incompetent and irresponsible dog owners in the world who get dogs for wrong reasons and don't do the proper training and socializing. Or any training or socializing.

You are a dog racist, library lady and I hereby frown upon you. I know this proclamation will leave you devastated.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there a Malinois in my macaroni.

The Big Brave German Shepherd with Max the Wonder Schnauzer. Vicious, isn't he?


  1. We have a Yorkie who was attacked by a huge dog once. My wife pulled him from the dog's jaws and we had to take him to the vet. X-rays revelaed puncture marks just missed his hear. He's okay no except he attacks large dogs now. He's on a leash at all times because he tears into them. Some dogs jump back, while others eye him as a tasty little morsel. Good thing he's on a leash.

    Stephen Tremp

    Stephen Tremp

  2. I'm sorry that happened to your Yorkie. It's a terrible experience, it really is. Especially the aftermath when a dog becomes terrified of other dogs. And why wouldn't he be terrified, right?

    The place where I train my dogs has rehabbed several dogs with similar issues. I remember one woman was walking her two jack russells when two labs (not German shepherds, not rottweilers, not pit bulls...LABS) came charging out at them and attacked both her and the dogs. The dogs went to the vet and she had to go to the ER.

    So I understand it happens and when people see a 130 pound German Shepherd, it might raise a certain level of alarm but what irked me so very much was the tone she used (she really doesn't like German Shepherds) and the fact that her dog was just running around all willy nilly. In a busy parking lot. Ugh.