This is our dog, Chico. He is a member of our family; he is loved and cherished. I would kick the ass of anyone who tried to hurt him. He has run of the house, in all honesty, no room is forbidden to him. We buy him special food, we cook meals for him; we take him to the doctor for check-ups and we have declined to take vacations because Chico-care was unavailable. For example, we wanted to go to Cuba this year but decided against it; we had no one to stay at the house while we were gone.
However, he is a dog. Communication is limited by the fact we do not speak the same language. As his humans, we have needed to develop the skill of watching his body language to determine his wants, to understand if he is unwell or in pain. We need to watch him to determine if he is in a good mood or a bad mood. Yes, dogs do “have their days”.
We also have a granddaughter – she’s 2 ½ now. I am very cautious when the two are interacting; I am, in fact, on high alert. You see, I also raised 3 children and I understand them as well. My granddaughter would never, willfully, cause Chico harm but she is a child. She is quick of movement and Chico is not all that familiar with small children. He lives in a house with 2 adults. Believe me, our speed of movement has slowed since we were kids.
I am constantly being chastised for not trusting either being; admonished for being paranoid. There are times when I question if this may be true and then I read another article where a “trusted” family pet has bitten and severely harmed a child. Regardless of the grief stricken rantings of the child’s family; it is NEVER, EVER, the fault of the dog or in some cases, the cat. It is ALWAYS the fault of the adults.
As adults, we have the responsibility to reason; to understand cause and effect. I don’t care if you employ an anamorphic attitude toward your animal – maybe you need to do this due to a lack of education or I.Q. – cats and dogs are a different species. They cannot communicate, effectively. If a child is, well…pissing them off…it can be very hard to judge before the inevitable happens and they respond as nature has built them to respond – a bite.
If you can only understand the concept of reaction through a human frame of reference; how would you react if you were essentially unable to communicate and someone scared you, hurt you or was annoying you? I know that if my husband is sound asleep and I were to jump on him, stick my finger in his ear or up his nose? He would, without doubt, react and that reaction may result in my getting knocked to the floor. If you startle someone, by jumping out of closet – a lot of people hit first and ask questions later. Dogs and some cats will react the same way except that their defense is to bite or seriously scratch.
Regardless – it is not the fault of the animal. It is the fault of the adults, in the vicinity, not paying attention. The end result is tragic, it’s heartbreaking on all fronts; if the dog administers a bite, most regions demand the dog be put down. Larger dogs only, it appears. And again, it isn’t the fault of the larger dog; he/she is simply larger, the teeth are larger and the power of the bite is also formidable. It isn’t the dog’s fault he is large.
We would not allow our kids to play in a busy parking lot and rely on the drivers to watch out for the children; the same premise with a dog or a cat. We are the adults and we have the absolute responsibility to ensure the safety of children in our care and the animals in our lives. If a dog bites? It is our fault and our fault alone. We are the responsible party – not the child, not the dog. Us, the parents, the caregivers, the friend – US. It is easy to lay blame on the animal because, cycling back to the beginning of this piece, dogs and cats, cannot communicate. They can’t explain what happened. I can, on their behalf; irresponsible adults.
Here is an article from a mother whose child was severely bitten by their dog – a beloved Retriever who, narrowly, escaped being euthanized but was torn from his home and those he loved, those he trusted because someone forgot that being an adult requires responsibility. I give this woman kudos for her honesty, most people just lay blame where it does not belong, on the pet.