In case you didn't know, I live in Texas. I grew up outside of Chicago in Illinois. I think most of the people who read this blog are my friends or family so I might be stating this unnecessarily but...just in case someone has wandered over who doesn't know me personally... There you are. Informed.
I read something today that reminded me of how lucky I was growing up, surrounded my mostly responsible adults in a nice neighborhood. If you'd like to read it as well, here's the link: http://www.doranna.net/wordplay/index.php/2012/07/30/the-beagle-the-border-collie-and-the-idiot/
Moving to the South was culture shock in a lot of ways. We have 'country' areas in Illinois but I only knew one family (My cousins via my mom's brother) who lived outside of a town. Animals were not encouraged to run around loose where I grew up. I never heard of people being attacked by a dog when I was a kid, at least not that I can recall. But then if a dog was loose, it had usually escaped its backyard. There was a Great Dane named (I think) Eeyore (?) from three blocks away who used to escape regularly, jump our four foot chain link fence and visit with our collie. Luckily he had kids in his own family and we knew them, we'd call, the family would come get him and it was good bye until he came visiting again.
Eeyore was a great dog, friendly and good with kids who happened to be an escape artist. He was well behaved with that one exception and we were perfectly safe. We were really lucky. Our dog Liz, was a large collie and very well trained thanks to my mother. Mom has had dogs all her life and is excellent at making them obey. She has a newer dog now, a cute little thing named Ginny, who she is constantly correcting because Ginny needs it.
Having a dog is a lot like having a small child. You have to watch it a lot, give it attention, make it behave itself. Instill in it the proper manners that will make it a productive member of its society. This is the responsibility of its owners, just as a child's manners are the responsibility of its parents. This is true for every pet that is capable of understanding commands, including cats. (Yes, mine understand no, and stop and their names.) And just like kids, dogs need rules. Just like kids, dogs need to be taught.
I have three cats now. Spike lost his battle with cancer a week before I posted pictures of the dollhouse out of its box. All of my cats started out as outdoor cats because we adopted them either off the street or from someone who let them be outdoors. My cats are all indoor cats now and will stay that way for some very good reasons. The first place I lived in TX was Orange which is way south and features things like alligators and cottonmouths. My husband lost a cat to snakebite when he was down there. Since then he won't have outdoor cats. Our neighborhood now features many neighbors with dogs. We love having the neighborhood cats visit our backyard because we don't have a dog, and its a safe place for them to hang out. But we don't let our cats outside. There's a good reason for that.
My husband knows a woman from work who had a cat and a dog. The cat was older and set in its ways and enjoyed time outside. The dog was a Cardigan Corgi (I think, I know it was a type of Corgi) also older, and typically stayed in his fenced in yard. When I say fenced I mean a wooden privacy fence, not something of chain link that allows for eye contact and perceived aggression to spiral out of control. Though in retrospect chain link might have been better.
You see, the neighbors of this woman also have a dog. A large, untrained, unsocialized animal whose breed I have deliberately not asked. This dog is aggressive. This dog is not friendly. And a few months after this nice woman's cat disappeared after it went for its outdoor time, the neighbor's dog, pushed and gnawed it's way through the wooden fence, got into her yard, and attacked her small dog. The damage done was, the only word I can come up with is horrific. Ultimately her dog died of its injuries at the vet's office.
The police were called. And this nice woman who in less than six months had lost both of her pets, had to deal with the legalities of pressing charges along with her grief. I won't go into the details of what happened legal-wise. But the results were disappointing.
You see, the neighbor still has his dog. It has not been put down for the safety of the neighborhood. The aggressive unfriendly dog, who attacked and killed another dog after breaking through a fence to do it, still lives next door to this nice woman where she has to hear it barking and see it. But that's not the most disturbing thing.
You see dogs are aggressive for reasons, sometimes its in their breeding and when they're properly trained by responsible owners they can be curbed and controlled. Big dogs and little dogs all have issues. Socializing and training them is key to making sure they aren't a danger to anyone. Aggressive dogs often see prey behavior in smaller creatures. The happy prancing little dog with his tail wagging, the child in a stroller clapping its hands and staring, the person taking a walk who looks too long in an aggressive dog's direction, they're all demonstrating behavior that tells the aggressive dog that they are prey. Dogs that become aggressive or attack need training to correct their behavior.
Now we come to the most disturbing aspect of this whole situation. The neighbor with the aggressive dog, the neighbor who gets to keep his dog, has a small child. A small child who isn't much bigger than a Corgi. A small child who won't even know if she's behaving in a manner that makes her prey.
Chilling thought isn't it?