Thursday, February 5, 2015

Love Them By Protecting Them. Protect Them by Training Them

We have a serial killer running rampant in Colorado Springs.

In the last month he has opened fire three times on apparently random victims in different parts of the city.

One died, one survived and the third was missed entirely.

The only common thread is the victims of this lunatic are friendly, off leash dogs that approach him.

According to Denver 7 news, the first dog was shot January 5 at Penstemon Park in Colorado Springs. Police say the dog's owner told police a man fired several shots at the dog, killing it and then ran off.
A second dog, an elderly bulldog, was shot at a week later on Shooks Run Trail. The owner heard the shot and saw a man running away. In that case, the dog wasn't hit. 
Then last week, Robbie, a stray that was cared for by several households on the same street,  was shot. He survived.
The shooter has only been identified as male.
I apologize for being overly dramatic, ah, never mind, I take that back. If this man is willing to shoot dogs in broad daylight, with their owners right there, it seems to me the dog owners themselves could easily become the next target. He has to be crazy. 
Each dog was off leash. They were friendly dogs, who felt comfortable approaching strangers. 
This is an accepted behavior for many dog owners. There are others who are more extreme. These are the belligerent, aggressive dog owners who demand the world love their dogs, whether they're humpers, droolers, jumpers,or even biters. If a person takes issue with being greeted by such a dog, then they are considered the problem, even in a public place with a leash law.
Owning Brockle has really opened my eyes to how dogs affect other people. He scares the crap out of many. 
It's not his fault, my fault or theirs. 
He is well-behaved and minds his own business. He wasn't always, so I've dealt with reactions to him on both sides of the coin. 
I've come to realize I don't want my dogs to scare anybody. I don't want anybody to feel threatened by them, unless of course they try to hurt me or break into my house. I also want to protect them from dog fights, cars coming from nowhere and getting lost in the mountains. Trusting they won't bolt after livestock, game or dogs, disappear on a hike or dart into the street is only possible if they are well-trained. The alternative is to keep them leashed. I go back and forth between leashed and loose, depending on the circumstance.
I have gone beyond a basic recall. I'm teaching all of my dogs to not approach anybody unless they are invited. Even then, I want them to stay with me until I say OK. 
It's not perfect yet, but we're closing in on it. Charlie and Brockle are about 90%, the other two, not so much.
I've always felt assuming  strangers love my dogs as much as I do would be presumptuous. I've always felt it is my responsibility to control all of my animals, and not put anybody other than myself in a position of dealing with them.
These days, at least in my city, doing anything else can get them killed.


EvenSong said...

I used to take each of my dogs to school with me from time to time, first my sweet Aussie Chewy, then Sandy. Part of it was because of medical issues that precluded my leaving them at home for the work day. But I love my dogs, and I loved having the kids love my dogs. They were always on leash and under my direct control.
I also used it as a teaching opportunity: ask first before you approach; don't put your face in the dogs face; if she moves away from you, don't "chase" her. Both dogs would go to classes where I had a lesson to teach, and lay at my feet. Sometimes they would do a trick or two, or "shake hands" with kids before I left. There were, however, a couple of kids (including one close friend's) who were afraid of dogs. I would check with those kids before I entered the classroom, and they had the option of sitting as close (or not) as they wanted. I never "forced" them to interact with the dogs--as in: "She's friendly! She won't hurt you!" The friend's daughter told me many years later that this was something that helped her overcome her fear.
One shouldn't assume that all people like dogs (my own mother was deathly afraid of GSDs).

Sharon Burdeshaw said...

I agree completely. From the title, I thought you were talking about horses. Untrained horses end up in poor circumstances. Ya don't usually hear about people shooting them randomly though ;)

mugwump said...

Sharon - horses tomorrow....

TeresaA said...

great post about the training . that psycho with the gun though is worrisome.

As someone who just lost my beloved horse because of untrained dogs I wish that more people would take it as seriously as you.

Snipe said...

I wish more dog owners had your mentality. My husband and I were aggressively approached by two off-leash dogs when we were skateboarding. The owners jogged up behind, singing out, "Don't worry, they're friendly!" The dogs' circling and feinting indicated otherwise. I hope they subsequently trained their dogs or kept them leashed. Considering that they thought such behavior was "friendly", I rather doubt it.

Katharine Swan said...

Teresa, I'm so sorry for your loss. I once had a dog come running up to me and my horse while we were riding along a major trail that runs through town. I am in Denver and there is very definitely a leash law here, but the owner was far behind. She acted sheepish but wasn't sorry enough, in my opinion. Luckily my horse isn't scared of or angered by dogs, and even though he was a bit surprised to have one charging up to him, he stood still while the dog danced around us excitedly. We were very lucky that it wasn't an aggressive dog, especially in the city where dogs don't see horses very often.

NotAFollower said...


Yep - training protects our dogs just like it does horses.

I'm training a new puppy right now, and am so pleased with his progress to date. Among other things, he's learning good off-leash hiking manners from the start, and to be comfortable switching from off-leash to on-leash. Like you, I'm working on installing a "don't approach until I say OK" along with a good recall. Something I've done with past dogs.

No matter how sweet, safe, and adorable my dog is, I will never assume that someone else wants to be greeted by him.

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