Breed biases: When people judge your dog

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So, I don’t even have a dog yet, but I’ve already felt judgment from people about him or her. Crazy, right? When people ask what kind of dog I want, and when I answer that we’re planning on adopting a German shepherd, I always brace myself for this frequent reaction: “Ew, really? Why? They’re so MEAN!” It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens enough to be noticeable.

I also bridle when people express astonishment that I work with and deeply enjoy the company of pit bulls and pit mixes at the SPCA. “But they’re so vicious! I could never be around one of those.” This usually launches me into a 10-minute speech about how pits are unfairly judged and how they are some of the most cuddly, affectionate, and sweet dogs that I ever play with at the shelter.

I try not to get too riled up about it, because the fact is that people have breed biases. I have them, too (although not for the same reasons that people judge GSDs and pits; more in the, I could never live with one myself way). I also understand where some of these breed stereotypes originated. Both German shepherds and pit bulls have been misused by humans for terrible, terrible things in the past (see: Nazis in the Holocaust, Southern police forces during the Civil Rights Movement, dog baiting, and dog fighting, just to name a few). I understand where these negative reactions come from, but they are still dismaying.

It makes me want to try all the harder to raise an upstanding, well-trained, and gentle ambassador for a breed–for whatever breed we end up with. This is notably easier to do if you have a breed like a golden retriever, who are universally loved and lovable in return. But I think there really is something to be said for generous, sweet, and intelligently raised German shepherds, dobermans, rottweilers, pit bulls, chihuahuas, and terriers. They change people’s minds and break down their judgments faster than anything else.

Do you have a dog whose breed or breed mix is often unfairly judged? How do you handle it graciously?

Poem: The Dog Has Run Off Again

Go, dog, go! Click for source.

A sweet, simple poem by Mary Oliver about when the dog runs off…

The Dog Has Run Off Again
Mary Oliver

and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with a sweet loopy music
and therefore I don’t want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy body
his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal
through the dark leaves
to come back to walk by my side, obedient.

Happy Friday, all!

Pup links!

Release the hounds! Click for source.

Dog-related links from around the web this week:

Snow Day in March! We had an unusual dumping of snow in my town yesterday. The city’s best-loved photographer takes some photos of her dogs in the snow; their joy is infectious! (Cramer Photo)

10 Simple Ways to Show Kindness in the Dog World. I thought this was a beautiful and inspiring post, reminding us of the simple things we can do to show gentleness and respect to other dogs and dog people. (Rescued Insanity)

How to Get Your Dog to Answer Your Call. Helpful reminders about training and receiving reliable recall. (The Inquisitive Canine)

How to Choose the Right Dog. Lindsey shares her wisdom about choosing a dog from a shelter. Decide your non-negotiables up front! This is helpful to me right now, because I’m in such a state of concentrated dog-longing that I could very well make poor, haphazard decisions based on any puppy face. (That Mutt)

6 Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Chains. Brief but useful reviews of the pet-friendliest hotel chains across the U.S. (Pawnation)

The Morran Book Project. I love this. A collection of illustrations from all over the world of artist Camilla Engman’s beloved terrier, Morran, made into a beautiful little book! (Miles to Style)

Hank, Cat for Senate, Responds to Attack Ad. Hank the cat is running for Virginia Senate, but he’s been smeared by an ad campaign from the super-PAC Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow. Which is hilarious. (Animal Tracks)

Gallery of toys and terriers

I’ll admit that the toy group and the terrier group are my least favorite groups in the AKC system. Not that I have any personal vendetta against these dogs–I just can’t imagine myself ever living with one of them. That said, I have met some very pleasant terriers and some very enjoyable toy breeds. And my time at the SPCA has convinced me that pit bulls are totally wonderful. (Of all these dogs, I’d be most likely to take a pit home.) And you can’t deny that they are adorable. Look at those faces! That said, here are some toys and terriers I could possibly coexist with.

(Click on an image to be taken to its source.)

Airedale terrier

Airedale puppy

Border terrier

Border terrier puppy

Cairn terriers

Cairn terrier puppy

Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppy

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Papillon

Papillon puppy

Pit bull

Pit puppies

Pomeranian

Pomeranian puppy

Pup links!

There's a borzoi on my bed. Source: Design*Sponge

Dog-related links from around the Web this week…

Dogster Picks: Apple-Picking Pals. There is a beautiful mountain apple orchard just a few miles from our house here. This fashion post makes me excited about taking our future dog there! (Miles to Style)

My Favorite Equipment. Basic picks from a German shepherd trainer. (Raising K9)

He Was Not Too Happy. Oh, the perils of hiking in the fall! (Shirley Bittner)

I’m A Little Occupied. A selection of beautiful fan art for artist Camilla Engman’s widely beloved terrier, Morran. (Camilla Engman)

Who Needs Fall? Nothing merrier than dogs frolicking in the snow. But, snow, already?? (No Tails of a Nutty Mutt)

Here Are 36 Bald Dogs… EXPOSED. A funny collection of photographs of dogs in wigs. (Best Week Ever)

Pup links!

A classy lady and her terrier, January 1957. Source: Flickr, click for link

Desperately Seeking Distance. A thoughtful post on how to evaluate a shy or fearful dog’s relationship with distance. (Fearful Dogs Blog)

Do Dogs Have Gender? Kristine writes a really interesting post on how we treat our dogs based on their sex. Do we culture them to act like “boy” or “girl” dogs? Great thoughts here. (Rescued Insanity)

Rez Dog Biographies. Photographer Steven Sable’s moving series of the homeless and/or neglected dogs who live on Native American reservations in the American West. It’s easy to forget that there are still many “feral” dogs living in the U.S. (Steven Sable)

Dogs of the Selby, Part 1. A collection of the fashionable dogs as seen through the lens of The Selby blog. (Miles to Style)

Top 10: Beautiful and Artistic Dog Portraits. Always love a good dog portrait! Have you ever hired a professional photographer to take pictures of your dog? I’m tempted to call up our fabulous wedding photographer, Meredith Perdue, who is also a respected pet photographer, once we get our dog… (The Hydrant)

Weaving Machines. A fun checkerboard photographic montage of dogs doing weave poles. (Paws on the Run)

Top 6 iPhone/iPad Apps for Pet People. I don’t have one of these fancy smartphones/devices, but my husband does. When the time comes for our dog, I imagine I’ll be convincing him to get a few of these handy apps. (Pawcurious)

You’re Fooling Yourself. This photographer walks around San Francisco and takes photos of dogs tied to things, waiting for their people. He writes often hilarious meditations on what the dogs might be thinking. This one particularly made me laugh. (Dogblog)

Pup links!

The much-maligned Wallis Simpson, aka Duchess of Windsor, with a cairn terrier. Source: bettyswallow.blogspot.com

A lot of interesting and thought-provoking dog-related links around the Web this week…

Pet-Friendly Apartments Are Lucrative. Are you hearing this, landlords of my town?? Listen closely! (The Bark blog)

“Dog People” Are from Pluto and “Cat People” Are from Jupiter? The summary of a very interesting study on the personalities of professed “dog people” and “cat people.” I was surprised at how many more people are self-professed “dog people” than “cat people.” What do you think? Does the study’s results accurately reflect your side? (Dog Spies)

Investigating Canine Research: Are Our Dogs Spying on Us? A fascinating study from Alexandra Horowitz‘s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. The study looks at the ways in which are dogs are watching us–reading our facial cues and listening to the tones of our voices–to get what they want. (Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab)

I Am a Clicker Convert. In a simple video, Kristine and Shiva demonstrate why a clicker really works. (Rescued Insanity)

Conflict Regarding Greeting People. I wonder about this, too. Is it better to let a dog get overexcited when meeting people in public? Or should we avoid those meetings altogether? (A Frame of Mind)

Exercises to Keep Dogs Off of Counters and Tables. I’ve always imagined that this would be a rather difficult behavior to fix. Here are some practical and helpful tips on how to address “counter surfing.” (A Frame of Mind)

Preventing Aggression Over Food. Karen London provides a fresh and helpful perspective on how to avoid food aggression. (The Bark blog)

A Canine Stress Dictionary. A list of common signs and symptoms that may indicate that your dog is totally stressed out. (Whole Dog Journal)

Fruits & Veggies, Oh My! A List of Dog-Friendly Foods. A helpful list of the healthy foods that are safe for dogs to eat. A carrot does sound like a great alternative to a fatty, calorie-packed treat. (The Hydrant)

They’re Leaving Home… I don’t think I’ll ever get over the feeling that Aussie puppies are the most adorable creatures on the planet. Deep down, my heart will always belong to this breed. (Inkwell Aussie News)

Yet More Quteness. A precious litter of GSD puppies at a nearby Virginia kennel. So hard to have self-control… (Blackthorn Working GSDs)

New Hounds in Town. A photo essay on the arrival of 10 recently retired greyhounds getting prepped for adoption. (ShutterHounds)

On the Street: Mulberry St., New York. Every outfit looks better with a dog! (The Sartorialist)

There’s A Dog In the House. Add this to my coffee-table-book wish list! (Dog Milk)

Summer Reading: Top Ten Favorite Dog Books. Some of my favorite dog books are on this list, too! A fun and easy guide to great books about dogs. (City Dog/Country Dog)

Up and Over. So funny. Such gleeful effort! Such hilariously tragic results. (Animals Being Di*ks)

Pup links!

A very happy terrier mix, as captured by the great Elliott Erwitt.

Canine-centric links from around the Web this week…

A Sheep Herder in Chihuahua’s Clothing. This adoptable chihuahua in Battersea started watching her border collie friends work the sheep and decided she’d have a go at it. (Pawesome)

Reasons to Buy a Dog vs. Rescue a Dog. A thoughtful and helpful post from a dog trainer on why she tends to rescue rather than buy dogs. I think she does a great job of showing both options without casting judgment on either side. (That Mutt)

10 Awesome Screenshots from One Dog Food Commercial. Totally hilarious. (Best Week Ever)

Friday Fetch: Blink Leash. I also have an obsession with rope leashes, so I’m just going to keep posting these wherever I find them. (Ammo the Dachshund)

My, My, What Have We Here? A salacious romance between a corgi and his cat. (Cute Overload)

The Difference Between Cats and Bassets. A meditation on the distinction between cats and basset hounds. (The Pioneer Woman)

Holy Smoke. Lovely linen dog figurines from the company Holy Smoke. (Under the Blanket)

Man Regrets Inventing the Labradoodle. Hear, hear. Anyone who creates a “designer” mixed breed should probably carry some guilt about that decision. (NY Daily News)

Best Jobs for Dogs: Wet Nose Tutors. I love these reading programs and I’m seriously considering training my future dog to participate in one. This article mentions Dog Tales, a program in Newport News, Virginia. I wonder if there’s a similar project in my area… (Grouchy Puppy)

Irish Wolfhounds at Play. I love the photos of these loping giants in the grass. (Finnegan’s Paw Print)

Haddie. Our wonderful wedding photographer is also a celebrated pet photographer. Here are some beautiful shots of her new neighbor, a totally adorable and fluffy puppy named Haddie. To die for! (Meredith Perdue)

Pup links!

Kate Moss and a Great Dane. Source: Bing

Dog-related links from around the Web:

The Greatest Dog Who Ever Lived. I loved this post, because it reminded me of the great dog legends my dad would tell us about his childhood. Ebony, his doberman, was his version of The Greatest Dog Who Ever Lived. (When he met my mom for the first time, he once asked her if she wanted to see a photo of the only girl he’d ever loved. She wasn’t so sure, but then he produced a photo of Ebony from his wallet.) She’ll always live in my memory. (Tales and Tails)

See Scout Sleep. Fashionable and yet pleasantly demure dog beds from See Scout Sleep, featured on Design Sponge. (Design Sponge)

Reward-Based Dog Training: Without Using Treats! A helpful article on how to wean your dog off treats. (Whole Dog Journal)

Just Breathe. Another variation on the seemingly endless supply of “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster knockoffs, but I couldn’t help but feature it. It’s cute. And it’s also probably my life motto. (Pawsh Magazine)

Picasso’s Dogs. Stanley Coren reflects on Pablo Picasso’s relationships with dogs. (Modern Dog Magazine)

Dog on a Bed. Even though I’m not sure if I’ll let our future dog on our bed, I will always love photos of dogs on beds. (Shirley Bittner)

Bubble Beth. Exultant joy from this border collie, chasing soap bubbles. (BCxFour)

Woe. WOE! The caption and photo are priceless. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

Get Low. Reason #524 why I will never get a terrier. (Animals Being Dicks)