You know how you can go along in your daily life, meet someone and think you know them and then BOOM, something happens and you are completely taken off guard? Yeah, that doesn't usually happen to me. Not to toot my own horn or to sound overly judgmental but I feel that for the most part I am a pretty good judge of character, although I will admit I have been hoodwinked in my life although mostly it involved some serious denial on my part about the reality of the situation. My point is…I find this to be pretty true when I meet dogs as well. I find I get a feeling about a dog and if I can't shake it, it's usually confirmed by a formal assessment. There have been times when I've been wrong or not seen some significant behaviors but for the most part, so far in my dog "career", I think I've been a pretty good judge of character. Unfortunately, in the case with dogs, that is a pretty sucky thing to excel at!
Sometimes I wish I could be blissfully oblivious and just love every dog I come across as most people claim they do. I wish I could have no qualms about sticking my face into a dogs and hugging and kissing it. I wish I believed when a dog is frantically climbing my body and jumping at my face that it is a sweet gesture. I don't. I can't even try to make myself. I cringe nearly every time I see people interact with their dogs or more often than not strange dogs. I wonder daily how more people don't get bit and I've come to the conclusion that dogs are far superior to us and we don't nearly give them enough credit for allowing our stupid species to continue to exist in blissful ignorance while they bare the brunt of the responsibility to inhibit themselves to keep us safe. Admittedly there are dogs that don't give two "you know what's" about our safety and will tell us off with those wonderfully powerful teeth of theirs. And yet somehow the burden of blame always falls on them.
But that is where my conundrum starts, I believe we should not inhibit the dogs ability to express his fears or anxiety but I think dangerous dogs should not be languishing in rescues or shelters or homes even. First it is not fair to the caretakers and society as a whole and second it's not fair to the dog. Can you imagine living your whole life in a constant state of fear or anxiety and alertness for the first sign of danger? I realize people do it every day but they have the ability to talk and express those fears and rationalize and seek help if necessary. Dogs can't do that. Some dogs live their lives as if they are in a constant state of warfare where it is kill or be killed. That is a great amount of stress to bear. It must be exhausting. While these dogs are languishing there are more stable dogs roaming the streets or languishing on a backyard chain or in an animal control facility facing euthanasia because all the rescue groups are full! Where is the justice in that?
We can't save them all and the general adopting public are not certified trainers or behaviorists and are not looking for a problem dog to work on and "cure". They want that sweet, friendly dog that will tolerate and endure all the hugs, kisses and silly things we humans do to objects of our affection. So my job is to find those dogs, to use that judgement I have developed through studying and observing and trusting my gut. It is my job to help make room for those diamonds in the rough and help them shine. It is my job to teach the public that hugging a strange dog is a BAD idea, that giving a leash correction on a choke chain carries so much baggage with it and causes a myriad of other problems, that when a dog stiffens or growls the best thing you can do is give the dog space because that is EXACTLY what he is telling you to do! Some days my job sucks, some days "feeling" what the outcome will be of an assessment and then being right is very draining; but then finding that really great dog and teaching her all kinds of tools to help her find a great home helps ease the tragicness of the other. Most days I have to remember what I do makes a difference to that one dog, and really that's all anyone can hope for in life, to make a difference in one life. Here's hoping I make a difference in your life Infinity.