[lit-ideas] Re: Can't have a gun? Get a dog

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2006 07:12:52 -0700



Actually the cliché in America is different from that.  The cliché is that
men who have fierce pit-bulls or Rottweilers (usually the only two breeds
mentioned) want to show how macho they are.  The American cliché is somewhat
closer to reality than yours because strong-willed dogs take strong willed
people to dominate them.  


When it comes to dogs and people, for the most part, reason goes out the
window.  Over the years I have advised a number of people about the sort of
dog they should get given their circumstances.  Thus far no one has taken my
advice.  I might as well be talking to people on Lit-Ideas.  People pick
dogs because 1) they grew up with some particular breed, 2) they think a
particular dog is cute or cuddly, or 3) large numbers of people get pound
dogs because they?ll be destroyed unless they take them home.  


I started out trying to apply reason to the acquisition of a dog.  My wife
developed an illness and could no longer work.  I insisted that she have a
dog for protection and since we were living in a condo at the time I thought
a medium-sized dog with a good rep for protection was just the thing.  I
recommended an Irish Terrier or a Standard Schnauzer.  My wife didn?t think
she needed a dog, but as long as I was insisting, a dog wasn?t a dog unless
it was big.  Her ideal dog was a mixed-breed that her father had.  It
vaguely resembled a Rottweiler, but there was probably some shepherd in
there as well.  I went through the dog books with her showing her the
different breeds, most of which she had never seen.  Finally she narrowed it
down to the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback.  I
took her to the Beverly Hills Dog Show so she could see these breeds.  The
German Shepherds had already been shown, but that was a breed she had seen
before.  The Rottweilers were just finishing and as handlers walked by us
their Rottweilers lunged at passers by.  Susan decided they were ugly.  Then
we went to the Ridgeback show ring and Susan knew at once this was the breed
for her because they were beautiful.  


I have known older people who have gotten dogs but as often as not the dogs
wouldn?t do a very good job of protection.  And a person?s ability to handle
a given breed has to enter into the equation.  In regard to the latter
issue, I recall an Engineer who applied reason to the selection of a dog.
He was a small man, about 5? 5? and was nearing retirement age.  His
neighborhood had changed since he moved there and had become much more
dangerous.  He bought the AKC Dog Book and began studying.  The breed he
finally selected was the Kuvasz.  The word Kuvasz is a corruption of kuwwasz
which in Arabian meant, ?armed guard of the nobility.?   The present dog
measures 28 to 30 inches at the withers and the common people of tradition
stood in awe of it.  This engineer decided this was just the dog to keep the
hoodlums from bothering him.  I?m sure this would have worked fine except
for one flaw in his reasoning.  As the puppy grew into a dog, he became
afraid of it.  It tore up his back yard.  He was afraid to walk it because
he couldn?t hold it if it lunged at someone.  After months of trying to cope
he gave it to someone with a ranch.  I lost track of him after he retired
and don?t know whether he got another dog, but I doubt it.  


I recall encountering some hoodlums on a walk with Trooper years ago.  He
was still puppy at the time but already big.  Six or eight teen-agers
gathered around me and someone said, ?wow, that?s a big dog.?  Someone else
asked, ?would he defend you if you were attacked??


I said, ?I?ve been wondering the same thing, myself.  Why don?t you attack
me and we?ll find out together.?  They just laughed.


The various dog breeds are interesting.  Someone was looking for some
particular trait or traits when he developed a particular breed.  And it is
probably rarely the case that all the dogs in a given litter will have that
particular trait.  The developer will be satisfied if he can get several
from a litter who will.  Thus not every Doberman in a litter needed to meet
Herr Doberman?s requirements, but some, perhaps most did.  Not every Lab
would be a good retriever, but most would.  Not all pointers would point.
Not all German Shepherds would meet the requirements for Police work, and
not all Golden Retrievers would retrieve or make decent seeing-eye


When Trooper was old Susan and I ?negotiated? about our next dog.  I
mentioned some other breeds, ?but why have another breed when you can have a
Ridgeback.?  This time she wanted a female because they were smaller, easier
to handle and less messy (according to her).  So we got Ginger.  Ginger was
one of those who wouldn?t have satisfied the Ridgeback developer.  She was
super-friendly and her main interest seemed to be to get other dogs to play
with her.  If they showed the slightest irritation she would grovel.  


I would have been content with just one dog if it had Trooper?s
characteristics.  I spend a lot of time in areas where coyotes sometimes
visit and Trooper could handle himself, but could Ginger?  I doubted it; so
Susan and I went back into negotiations.   We ended up with Sage, satisfying
Ginger?s desire to have someone to play with and mine to have a dog with
some watch-dog characteristics as well as being potentially more competent
against coyotes.  Ginger is now 3 and Sage 1 and maybe they?ll handle
things.  Ginger surprised me one day.  She was in the habit of chasing
rabbits.  I had Sage on leash and a coyote rushed out of the brush across a
trail and Ginger took off after it.  I hurried ahead in alarm, but before we
got very far here they came again, the coyote running as fast as it could
with Ginger hot in pursuit.  We turned around and went after them in the
opposite direction.  A few minutes later Ginger returned, panting, with a
satisfied expression on her face (some dogs can get satisfied expressions on
their faces).  I gathered that coyotes will run from 80 pound female
Ridgebacks without inquiring into their bona fides.  That might change if
the coyote had a pack with it, but now Ginger has Sage who at one year old
is 70 plus pounds.







-----Original Message-----
From: Omar Kusturica

Okay, I can understand some elderly or handicapped

person needing a dog for protection. When a healthy

man who should be capable of defending himself walks

around with a big dangerous dog I begin to suspect

them of cowardice or else of latent aggression. (These

two actually tend to go together.) Some people seem to

enjoy seeing that the other people are afraid of their

huge ugly dogs.






--- Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


> There you go.  I agree.   To get a big dog would be

> taking unfair advantage

> of the predators trying to break into your house to

> harm your family.  It's

> much better to practice light sleeping.


> Lawrence


> -----Original Message-----

> From: Omar Kusturica



> I've got to admit that I have always suspected the

> people who take big dogs to protect them of being

> cowards. Not sure about guns.


> O.K.


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