Thursday, August 10, 2006

Doggy Daycare

A few weeks ago the Rottweiler next door killed our neighbor's dachshund in their front yard.

"Sweetie" is a gentle giant with a Fu Manchu moustache. She was walking on a leash with her family: the father held the leash, the mother pushed their toddler in a stroller. The dachshund ran through an open gate and into the yard, barking hysterically (as all dogs in our neighborhood do at one another). It's not clear whether the doxie ran into the street or whether the rottie ran into the driveway (I've spoken to each owner and they disagree) but it appears that Sweetie considered the doxie a threat to the child and that the doxie was fear-aggressive toward Sweetie.

Sweetie shook the doxie once by the neck and it died at the vet hospital within the next 24 hours.

Sweetie and P-dog fence fight everyday. We've tried everything to acquaint the two dogs as friendly neighbors but P-dog is much smaller and definitely fear-aggressive. The two dogs are the same age, and as puppies Sweetie exhibited every indication that she wanted to play with P. Now they mostly fence fight and B-dog joins the fray. As my neighbor shared the sad story we both agreed that we need to keep our dogs apart.

This is the story that haunts me when I think about taking the dogs to daycare. During the academic year I'll be having major repairs done to my house and some work-related occasions when it would be best for me to board the dogs during the daytime. Daycare and kennels cost about the same, so this seems like golden opportunity to place the dogs (especially P-dog) in an environment where they could improve their socialization with other dogs. The nearby dog park is OK for my larger, comparatively mellow dog but P-dog sometimes gets into dangerous spats. The daycare screens clients with temperament testing so the environment would be somewhat safer than a dog park.

As someone whose childhood involved Saturday courses in etiquette and "Party Manners" (really, what 11-year-old doesn't need to learn the proper way to eat an artichoke?) I'm innately attracted to immersing P-dog in new socialization environments. Formal obedience lessons expose her to other dogs but not in the same way--those kinds of interaction don't prepare her for things like play dates or the overtures of stray dogs during our walks.

But the image of a larger dog shaking her by the neck terrifies me.

And at the same time, I worry that my fears--and my decision to share the story above--in some way perpetuate the discrimination against big black dogs like Sweetie. In my heart I believe she's a very good and gentle dog. But her strength and size make her potentially dangerous, even in the hands of caring owners. Realistically, I'm not sure how much we can all do to control the actions of our animals. But we must do more.

Today's fieldmouse-relocation clients: Zero. (I fear they've begun relocating themselves--from the garden to the house.) Though we did have a nice walk delivering the empty traps to the lake.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eek..what a sad story. I don't see P-dog going down that easy, though. She's a scrapper.

Hopefully doggie daycare doesn't have dogs that scary. That's pretty unusual. I guess asking, "Uh, how many dogs have been killed here?" would not ease your mind?"


4:02 AM  
Blogger 2blackdogz said...

Thanks, M.

Yes, I'm going to have to ask that question. Also, I thought I'd drop by the vet hospital that assists this daycare and casually inquire with the staff.

7:28 AM  

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