Friday, October 12, 2012

If I could post Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope snarling as the title, I totally would.

Very few things piss me off as badly as the following situation: 

Me: Lalalalalala, my dog is so cute. We're just walking, minding our own business.
Zola: ZOMG OUTSIDE I LOVE OUTSIDE I HAVE TO PEE AND POOP PROBABLY BUT ONLY WHEN I FIND THE PERFECT SPOT IS THAT A FRIEND CAN I HAVE PETS WAIT DO I HAVE TO PEE I DON'T REMEMBER
Lady: (scowly face) There is a bulldog that is clearly vicious because "bull" is in its name and there is also "bull" in "pit bull" so they must be the same thing and I have an adorable and cuddly totally non-aggressive rat terrier that will probably be EATEN by the pitbulldog EVIL THING.
Rat Terrier: THERE IS ANOTHER DOG AND I AM BY NATURE AGGRESSIVE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I NEEDED TO BE WHEN I WAS CHASING RATS AND OTHER VERMIN PRIOR TO BECOMING THIS LADY'S MISBEHAVED LAPDOG. I AM GOING TO INSPECT THE OTHER DOG AND THEN BITE ITS FACE OFF!
Me: The fuck? Why is that little shit biting my dog who was doing absolutely nothing?
Zola: OMG YOU ARE NOT A FRIEND MOMMY THE NOT-A-FRIEND BIT ME I WILL HIDE BEHIND YOU.
Lady: YOUR PIT BULL TRIED TO BITE MY DOG!
Me: The fuck? Were you even watching?? Your dog deliberately came up to my dog, who I was pulling closer to me with her lead while you were letting your lead get more lax and seriously, get off your phone. And also, she's not a pit bull. Get your dog the fuck away from mine.
Lady: I will report your dog to the office!
Me: Hahahaha, go ahead? My dog has bite marks on her face and yours doesn't. We'll see what happens.
Lady: ... Well.
Me: Yeah, get the hell away from me.
Zola: MOMMY MY FACE HURTS BUT CAN I HAVE PETS ALSO I AM HUNGRY AND MAY HAVE TO PEE AND POOP.

End scene.

I have no problem disciplining Zola in front of other people and am not at all assuaged by her cute face when she misbehaves in public. But she is the least aggressive dog I have ever met. Ever. The cats terrorize her and eat out of her bowl (she just waits patiently until they are either done or I realize what's going on and shoo them away to their own food bowls) and take her spot on the bed, but she doesn't respond most of the time. And when she does, it's with a frustrated yelp, which is immediately followed by her running to me and looking at me plaintively. When she gets excited, she's difficult to control, so I bought a choke collar that I don't necessarily like using but it gets the job done. I'm currently working on training her to FOCUS but it's not been super successful because her attention span is about as long as ... well, it's not very long.

So when we were out walking the other day, I made sure to keep her attention by talking to her and showing her the training treats I had in my hand. It was working pretty well. Then the rat terrier happened. She was standing there at attention with her head cocked to one side, curious about this newcomer. She looked at me like, "The fuck is that thing?" and then decided that her desire to pee/poop/walk around in the grass sniffing things was more fun than trying to understand this little dog that somehow was pulling his owner (seriously, it couldn't have been more than like 10 pounds) toward us. As dogs do, she let the terrier sniff her face while she wagged her tail, and then BAM, it bit the shit out of her face.

I pulled Zola away and just kind of stared at the lady, who abruptly put her phone to her shoulder (still talking) and tugged her dog back to her with this unholy glare at Zola. Who still, by the way, hadn't done anything, even in retaliation. But whatever.

This woman and I are not friends to say the least. She walks the other way with her little shit when I bring Zola out to go to the bathroom, and it amuses me when she scowls the whole time. I laughed at her yesterday, which I think embarrassed her. And good. She should be embarrassed. She has not trained her dog because he is small and supposedly easy to handle.

Well, guess what, lady? Small dogs are usually the least behaved for a few reasons, one being that owners think their behavior is cute. It's not. If it isn't acceptable for a larger dog to do what your dog just did, then it's not acceptable period. Do you ever watch Cesar Milan? Because you totally should*.

It's just so frustrating to see that some people own dogs. They want them as accessories (thanks, Paris Hilton) or trophies, and often, they treat them as though they are humans. I love to talk about Zola in an anthropomorphised way, but I understand that she is a dog. She needs training, attention, discipline, etc. She also has instincts that will supersede any training I have given her. Now, given that Zola is a bulldog that has been bred to be dependent on humans**, it's more likely that she'd die in a survival situation, but her canine nature would still come to the surface. Her reaction would probably be more flight rather than fight, which is okay with me. She'd last a lot longer that way.

Some people don't read into the breeds they choose or they don't try to find out the possible breeds their mix has. Honestly, I wish I had done more research into bulldogs before getting Zola, but she was cute and spunky and I was 24 and wanted a puppy. If I had to do it over again, I would have gotten a shelter dog, like my sister did with her new dog, Cupcake. But don't tell Zola. She'll be crushed. Anyway, after I bought her, I did a ton of reading about the breed: while not aggressive, they are extremely stubborn, so you need to have a strong personality to properly train one, and they don't necessarily drool all the time like mastiffs, only when they exert themselves. They also have "active digestive systems," which is just nice talk for "they shit and fart rancid smells all the time." They don't need a lot of exercise, which makes them perfect for people that aren't as active (although I'm an avid outdoorsy person, so it always hurts when I'm going for a long walk and I have to leave Zola at home - but don't worry, I take her out afterwards and we play).

But this woman apparently didn't understand where terriers come from. Terriers are fuckers. Sure, they're cute and pocket-sized and will bounce with joy when you get home (Zola does the same thing but for a lot less time because she gets worn out), but they were bred to be active and aggressive hunters. I'm not saying you can't have one; you can. But train the damned thing. Get it socialized with other dogs and people. When it starts to misbehave, remove it from the situation (and apologize for not controlling your dog); praise it when it behaves properly. Don't blame other dog owners for your dog's behavior. It pisses us off. And makes us happy that we call your dog a kick-me. If it gets to the point where you know your dog cannot be in the vicinity of other dogs and/or people, don't let it or limit its interactions as best you can.

For instance, I don't bring Zola to the dog park any longer because she's excitable and not all dogs respond well to her overeager, galloping ZOMG FRIIIEEEEENNNND?? approach. I take her on walks in the regular park, but I cannot let her run around like a crazy person without worrying about another dog reacting poorly to her enthusiasm, hurting themselves, other people, or Zola herself. Now, part of the reason, too, is that I know other people like this terrier lady bring their dogs to the dog park. One of the last times we went, a boxer lost its shit. Luckily, it had nothing to do with Zola, who was still on her leash at the time, but this woman was being forced out by the other owners after she admitted, "Oh, he's a nice dog. He just reacts when he's startled!" Her definition of reaction was, "Oh, he just gets a little jumpy," when it was really, "Oh, he lashes out at everything within five feet of him when anything that isn't his owner comes close to him." She was all teary eyed as she put the lead on him, but seriously? You're going to bring your dog, who you know freaks out at the slightest provocation, to an area where you cannot control most of his environment? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, lady.

Also, it seems that people forget that dogs can read people's emotions very well. Zola seems to know when I want to be left alone (she's still there but she's at my feet and pretty much chill) or when I am in play-with-me mode. I'm also comfortable around pretty much all dogs. I grew up with a miniature schnauzer, Booshka (that little brat of a dog), then a farm-bred Weimeraner named Cocoa and a fluffy corgi named Maggie***. We lived around people that had dogs, and my sister and I became friends with neighborhood dogs (Molly the English sheepdog, Abby the Doberman pinscher, etc.). So I'm not frightened of dogs at all. I can tell if a dog is aggressive, but I also know how to handle myself around them. They respond to alpha behavior, which my dad (thanks, Daddy) taught me. This rat terrier woman's fear of Zola's "pit bullishness" was just transferring the agitation to her dog, who wanted to defend her. I can't really blame the dog**** because it was just responding to his owner's stupidly placed emotions and maybe thought it was protecting her. I still wanted to kick the little shit into the air like a football. Have I mentioned that I dislike terriers?

Ultimately, all of this is due to ignorance. Or stupidity, depending on how you think of it. There are plenty of ways to learn about dogs and their instincts: online, libraries, other dog owners, PetSmart/Petco. There's not really an excuse for having an ill-mannered pooch any longer. And no, "I'm a passive moron who shouldn't own a dog regardless" is not an excuse. I suppose that isn't going to stop people from buying dogs they can't control or eventually don't want because, wait, it needs food? Attention? I can't just hire someone to play with it? What is this fuckery?? TO THE POUND WITH YOU, YOU LEECH. YOU DON'T EVEN PAY RENT*****.

So, class, what have we learned? Research before you buy (also a good consumer tip). Train your dog. Know your dog's limitations. Know your own limitations (also a good life tip). Don't let your dog bite other dogs' faces.

Class dismissed.

* I now want to find her apartment number and leave her a copy of "Cesar's Way" on her doorstep.
** Purebred bulldogs have to be artificially inseminated because male and female genitalia do not fit together, and when the puppies are born, they have to be taken out via c-section because the puppies' heads are too big than to fit through the vaginal canal. YAY HUMANS. Zola is half Olde English Bulldogge and half English bulldog, so she doesn't have a lot of these problems. She's also spayed, so no puppies for her, anyway.
*** Her original name was Stoli because I had a weird fixation for naming my pets after alcohol. Don't ask. I don't really know, either.
**** Except that I totally do, because I fucking hate terriers. If I wanted to deal with high-pitched yips and aggressive snaps at my heels, I'd watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or whatever that show is called. 
***** I may have threatened Zola with this after she threw up for a fifth time in ten minutes because she drank too much water and then got excited because ... I don't know. Maybe she thought I was going to pet her or something? She's a weird dog. 
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