We hear a lot these days about Deed not Breed, but maybe the truth is that some dog owners are more dangerous than their dog – whatever the breed! An incident in Birmingham, UK, recently raised the possibility of “dog rage”.
Bafta and Emmy award winning writer Andrew Davies was walking his small German Shepherd dog, Daisy, when two off leash Staffordshire Bull Terriers ran up and began snarling at her. Andrew, shouted waving his arms and legs about to scare away the dogs, but there was no physical contact. Suddenly, the owner of the two Staffies strode over swearing and punched and head butted Andrew, who ended up lying on the ground. The incident has attracted attention as Andrew Davies’s writing credits include many UK TV shows, such as Sense and Sensibility, and films such as the Bridget Jones movies.
Fortunately Andrew, who is 71, only suffered a black eye in the attack, but it has brought up some important questions. Is this kind of incident something we need to look out for now? What rights do we have in letting out dogs run free? How far can we go in defending our dogs from possible attack?
I was reminded of one of my own pet hates, which is when I have my dog or dogs on the lead, only to have an off lead dog come running up. The owners invariably shout something along the lines of, “It’s alright, he’s friendly!” On one occasion two chocolate Labradors bounded over and one – a big male – started growling at Buddy and trying to mount him. The owner’s infuriating comment when she finally caught up with her dogs was, “It’s because he (meaning Buddy) is on the lead.” I had been told this too many times in the past, and I pointed out politely but very assertively that it was not because my dog was on the lead, but because hers were off the lead. She got the point, put her snarling dog onto a lead and left.
I am not saying that Buddy has never greeted an approaching person or dog against my will – but what I am saying is that when that has happened I have said the only correct thing in the circumstances – “I’m sorry.” And I’ve repeated it as many times as necessary. I’ve also done my best to train him not to greet indiscriminately.
Maybe we could have another phrase – “Whatever the breed, You need a lead!”