Saturday, September 28, 2013

Stupid is Legal

I am working on a Tally story (for reals) it's almost done.

I have notes jotted down about riding my horses even though I don't ride like I used to.

I have some potentially horrible thoughts on horse training, what works and what doesn't.

But here's what keeps rattling around in my head.

Maybe if I give in, share my thoughts and have a little discussion, these thoughts will leave me alone and let me get back to writing.

I'm thinking about breed -specific legislation. Yep, I live next door to Denver, where Pit Bulls and Pit crosses are banned and have been since 1989. Since then, many other Colorado cities have jumped on the band wagon and banned not only Pit Bulls, but  "American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog (Old Country Bulldog),Dogo Argentino, Canary Dog (Canary Island Dog, Presa Canario, Perro de Presa Canario), Presa Mallorquin (Pero de Presa Mallorquin, Ca de Bou), Tosa Inu (Tosa Fighting Dog, Japanese Fighting Dog, Japanese Mastiff), Cane Corso (Cane di Macellaio, Sicilian Branchero), Fila Brasilairo, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds."

The list is getting long because people keep finding new, scary looking, inappropriate breeds to own. I mean what the hell is a Perro de Presa Mallorquin? Thank goodness for the Internet. 

Any of you who read my dog breed posts know how strongly I feel about understanding the breed of dog you choose and learning how to train it. 

A representative from our local animal shelter has shared with me that although pit bulls and chihuahuas are the two primary breeds they see, the MAJORITY of dogs being turned in are large breed, teen-age, male dogs. Which simply reinforces what I've been saying,  people keep adopting dogs they have no business owning and dogs are paying the price. When those cute little puppies turn into hormone charged maniacs, their owners can't cope.

Brockle, my very tall, crazy motivated, non-stop action, bungee cord of a dog, was a twice returned, teen-age, male dog. He ate couches and never met a person he didn't want to hump, two habits that didn't get him voted into the "I love my _____" club (fill in the blank) of any breed.

I fell for his intensity, his intelligence and his looks. He is very much a herding dog mix of some kind, which are breeds I'm familiar and comfortable with. He needs a lot of exercise and so do I. 

What really captured me was the way he looked at me. Within five minutes of meeting he was looking straight into my eyes. Deep, direct and a little unsettling. 

"C'mon, let's get out of here," he seemed to say. "We've got stuff to do." 

So we did and we do. 

I wasn't stupid about it though. I didn't write Brockle off, become angry or go to extremes when he lunged at other dogs, and sometimes people, when we went out. I didn't decide he was vicious when he would go so crazy on the end of his leash I would have to sit down to stop him from yanking me off my feet. There's more, but you get my drift. There were reasons he was at the pound for the second time. I didn't angrily protest that it wasn't his fault, there are no bad dogs, only bad people, or demand my rights to let my maniac dog loose at the dog park. 

This is how I saw it. Brockle was an asshole. 

But he was my asshole. 

So I went out and got us some training, from a professional. I picked a trainer who used methods I respected. Then I listened. I listened hard, because those damn lessons were really expensive. I needed them to be an investment. And guess what? They were. 

Thanks to Cool K9's Jim and Bianca Beinlich,, Brockle is now a respectable member of society. He made it through a 1/4 mile of off leash dogs this week. He was at heel, eyes on me, and off leash himself. He even handled a shoulder bang from a well-intentioned Golden Retriever. He didn't break, not once, and the only reward was a bounce of his tennis ball.

We did this in eight private lessons and with lots of practice. There were no shock collars, muzzles or beatings. Yeah, I'm bragging some, and yeah, I'm shamelessly plugging Jim and Bianca. You know why? Because my dog, who BTW is still a maniac, will never end up labeled as a bad dog. He won't be a three-time return to the pound either. He's awesome.

So, to sum up and quit bragging on Brockle and the Cool K9 team -- although my dog isn't a pit bull, he fit the criteria for a potentially dangerous dog. Should he be banned? Not now, not anymore. If I had been too stupid to get help, trust me, Brockle's life wouldn't have ended well and it would have been my fault. Not his previous owners, not breed legislation, just me. Because I took him on. 

Which brings me to my point. Breeds are being banned all over the world. The country of Denmark has banned 20 of them. They tend to be molosser breeds, the guardians and protectors. Why?


Being stupid is not a crime. Stupid people are attracted to dogs they shouldn't own because they are "so cute!" Because they want people to admire them or be afraid of them. Because they get caught up in a movement or cause based on nothing more than good ad campaigns. Because their penis is small. Because they need to feel they have control. Because they are too stupid to own a dog for reasons that actually benefit the dog.

Stupid people are attracted to dogs that get them in trouble. 

If there was a way to legally declare, "You can't have a _____dog (fill in the blank), because you are too stupid to own one," then breed bans wouldn't be an issue.

But we can't. Stupid is legal. 


deedee said...

Good to see you, mugs. Now i love big b almost as much as mort. Be well.

DarcC said...


Anonymous said...

Mugs, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Connecticut's news on declaring horses as inherently vicious...please oh please oh please? Do a quick Google search for "are horses vicious" and everywhere from Fox News to BBC have caught on

mugwump said...

Anon....OK, am looking now.

2 Punk Dogs said...

Love this post! The only thing that would have made it better would have been a picture of fluffy Brockle. :)

Gail said...

It seems stupid people have a lot more control of the world than they should...My husband and I actually bought a crazy German Shepherd puppy on purpose because I knew she needed someone to help her become a good canine good citizen. In the hands of someone who just bought her because she was cute, she most certainly would have ended up euthanized after biting a person or a dog. Instead, after a couple of years of work and hearing one trainer tell us that as a 4-month old puppy, she should be put down, we now have a dog who is a joy to walk and whose personality is sweet, but non-Lablike. While stupid people yell at us that their dog is friendly as it runs out of control off leash or apologize for the hysterical barking and lunging, our dog looks away and even slowly moves away in a non-confrontational manner. While I wouldn't encourage just anyone to adopt a "special needs" dog, for those who are willing to take responsibility for such a dog, the rewards are great.

gillian said...

Oh man! I say this all the time! This exact thing. I usually add that its much easier to identify a pit than an idiot by looking at one.

MichelleL said...

Sad but true Mugs. Stupid is legal and it is getting worse by the year.

Personal accountability is also fading fast.

Brockle is one of the Lucky One's. He landed with you for a reason and you were aware enough to understand that you were supposed to be together.

What a gift Brockle has been to you and you to him.

Daisy Boo said...

Amazing journey :)

RuckusButt said...

Yes! So glad to see this mindset being spread further through good venues such as your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in Riverside county, CA, and we have had some recent events. The county is now going through the motions of making it a law to neuter most pit and pit mixes. Last week we had an editorial in our Press-Enterprise newspaper urging lawmakers to pass this legislation. The very next day, front page news, a toddler was killed by the "family pets", all pits.

This goes on and on. And people keep calling it a "tragic accident".

mugwump said...

Anon-Stupidity is a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

I feel the "stupid factor" is the problem with horses and agriculture too.

Anonymous said...

So pleased to see that Brockle is doing so well. My rescue dog rehab didn't end so well. We were getting on top of the nervousness and behaviour problems, when progress started to stall. Then we thought he had a pulled leg muscle, but a few weeks later it was diagnosed as hip dysplasia. After a few days on heavy duty pain relief so that he got a last chance to have fun, pain free, he was PTS at age 14 months. We could handle the work needed to deal with the night blindness and the behaviour problems, but add in how miserable he was from the pain and it just wasn't fair too him.
I'm still really frustrated with the idiots that thought it was ok not to spey their rottie, and didn't bother to socialise the resultant pups, then dumped them at a rescue - a poorly socialised rottie/ridgeback/lab (at best guess) mix is hard work at about 10 months.
RIP Spock, 38kg (84lb) of goofy fun, I hope your 4 months with us were as much of a blast for you, as they were for us.

Francis said...

I don't know what the answer is for these dogs.. you cannot legislate the problem away. Their only hope is to become "non trendy" but that just opens the door for the next breed. I have always said you should have a license to own a dog or a horse.. or to have a kid.. but that isn't the answer either. It is important to note that things have changed in the last 30 years in dog ownership, you see far more responsible owners than you did when I was a kid. So maybe education and exposure to proper behavior will win out in the end. When the norm isn't dogs on a chain or in a pen.. or running loose. But we have may years to go!

It is frustrating to see so many dogs who are just dumped because their owners are idiots..

Francis said...

I don't know what the answer is for these dogs.. you cannot legislate the problem away. Their only hope is to become "non trendy" but that just opens the door for the next breed. I have always said you should have a license to own a dog or a horse.. or to have a kid.. but that isn't the answer either. It is important to note that things have changed in the last 30 years in dog ownership, you see far more responsible owners than you did when I was a kid. So maybe education and exposure to proper behavior will win out in the end. When the norm isn't dogs on a chain or in a pen.. or running loose. But we have may years to go!

It is frustrating to see so many dogs who are just dumped because their owners are idiots..

redhorse said...

Anon, my condolences. I've had that experience and it really sucks. Part of the problem is that you've made a commitment when you take them in, and it just plain hurts to give it up.

I hate to even say this, because it's so politically incorrect, we're not supposed to ever blame anyone for anything they've done, we're not supposed to use the word "fail." But the real problem with the breed bans is that the people who are breeding these dogs are breeding them for all the traits that make them so dangerous to the average owner/family. I live about an hour and a half north of Detroit, and about half an hour from Flint where pit bulls, rotties and mixes of them are the most popular breeds. They are used for a job, guarding drug dealers and drug houses, and fighting other dogs. Compared to these "dog owners," Michael Vick was a good guy. I know several people in and around those cities who have had their rotties and pits stolen, and gotten them back torn up and almost starved to death. I also know some people from rescues who used to take in the dogs who had survived and been saved in drug raids. I've seen the wounds, I've seen the dogs who have given up. What these "breeders" have done is beyond stupid, it's evil, it's disgusting and it's sickening. I also believe the breed bans are stupid, but apparently you can't make the breeders/abusers illegal.

mugwump said...

redhorse - exactly. It's convoluted and wrong, but if you can't stop the bad breeders, then stop the breed.

CaitStClair said...

Love this post. It's so true. I really wish you needed to pass a test in order to own any animal. If you want to own a working breed then you should have to pass another test. Think driver's license vs CDL.

However, the problem with "if you can't stop the breeder, then stop the breed" is that the bad folks will just turn to another breed. If that one is outlawed, they'll move onto another. I don't care if the only breed left in the world is the super-sweet family Lab, they can still turn that dog into a weapon/guard/monster/liability within just a few generations. Rather than going after the breed du jour, we should go after stupidity, even if it seems impossible.

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear... I could have written this post, so of course I LOVE IT!!

mugwump said...

CaitStClair - I guess I wasn't communicating clearly. wasn't advocating stopping any breed. I was pointing out why I think breed banning came about.
And, I'm sorry, but I disagree. If all that were left were Labs then people who want stuff that bites would turn to snakes and gators.
The AKC closed breeding practices have pretty much guaranteed that Labs would self-implode into cancer ridden, deformed jointed messes long before they would become aggressive. And yes, I've heard the story about your Aunt Sally's nun killing black lab and the free daycare for underprivileged children run by pit bulls.

CaitStClair said...

Ah. Good point. I didn't think of health problems. I still think it's possible though. Every breed has unstable and vulnerable dogs. All one has to do is exploit those traits. And while I do know both unstable labs and nanny pit bulls(those two plus a Corgi describe my adult life in dog years perfectly), I promise I wasn't going to cite them as evidence. EVERY breed has good and bad. Most dog breeds have existed for less than a century and in that time we have created everything from Chihuahuas to Irish Wolfhounds. Saying we could create vicious goldendoodles is not a stretch. It wouldn't be pretty but it's possible, unfortunately.

Jenn said...

Good post.

And regarding Anon/Spock - I often wonder if a lot of dogs with behavior problems are in pain. Dogs don't tell us - they are very good at hiding pain from us. And I can't imagine the pain of something like hip dysplasia in a puppy.

Bianca said...

Excellent post Janet! You have the most incredible gift of putting your thoughts into words, while getting the most serious of topics across in a manner that is both enjoyable and entertaining to read! You're not a bad Brockle trainer either...something you give yourself far too little credit for! You two are a beautiful partnership to watch working together. Which is a video we will get soon and post for all of your horse buddies to! So, thanks for the excellent post, the props to Jim & I as trainers (although much of that progress has been due to your dedication), and most of all, for your frienship! Now, how was that for sappy?!?!?

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