Nights, the house grows larger, open
floor widening toward gray
indistinct walls. Here, then, I find
the cotton rabbit lying still—
one plush foot stretching long on the carpet.
I leap in, bite, fling it wide
and follow, pursuing now,
no muzzle to hold me
from catching it, catching it.
During a recent visit to Barley Cove, a beach in southwest Ireland, I was surprised and dismayed to see this sign posted at the boardwalk to the beach:
I have heard about such blatant breed discrimination before, but this is the first time I’ve seen it myself. As you can see, German shepherds are on the list, along with many breeds that have acquired a negative public perception, thanks to decades of media hype and stereotyping.
Obviously, if you have a people- or dog-aggressive dog, you shouldn’t bring her to a public beach and let her off leash, regardless of breed. Which is why this ruling is so irritating to me. Dogs of ALL breeds can be dangerous. Yes, an aggressive chihuahua is going to do less damage to you than an aggressive akita, but the presumption that particular breeds are, by intrinsic nature, dangerous, could not be further from the truth. Dogs are individuals. A fear-reactive golden retriever could be much more dangerous to the public welfare than a well-socialized pit bull. By passing legislation like this, towns only further reinforce negative stereotypes about certain types of dogs.
To me, the irony of this ruling (breeds on this poster have to be leashed and muzzled) is that a dog who was on a beach like this, watching every other dog run around off leash, would be likely to be more reactive if he was the only dog leashed and muzzled. I know my dogs, who are on this list of banned breeds, would be immensely frustrated and probably act out if an off-leash dog ran up to them while they were constrained by a leash and muzzle.
Also, the crossbreeds addendum (the ruling applies to all dogs on the poster and their crossbreeds) is ludicrous to me. People, myself included, are notoriously bad at guessing breeds. Even shelter workers are just as bad at guessing which dogs are “pit bulls” and which aren’t. You simply can’t conclusively know a dog’s heritage by looking at him, and even if you could, the breed background wouldn’t tell you anything certain about the dog’s temperament. Our dog pal Howie is a great example:
Howie is half-lab, half-German shepherd. His mother was a purebred German shepherd who came into the rescue, but he bears hardly any resemblance to his mother’s breed. This sweet, shy pup would qualify as a “dangerous crossbreed” according to this legislation. But anyone who looked at him would think he was just a slightly leaner, leggier labrador.
Again, dogs are individuals. Our two purebred German shepherds are as different from each other, personality wise, as night and day.
It makes me sad to think we haven’t moved past this in the 21st century, and especially in a country thought to be as progressive as Ireland.
To Pet or NOT to Pet. This is a really helpful and illustrative re-post about reading dogs’ body language; it would be great to show these photos to classrooms, particularly. But, actually, the more I think about it, the more I think your average person could benefit from discerning between these images. I’m constantly amazed at how poor we are at reading dogs’ body language and how many myths still persist about what dogs are trying to tell us. Great post. (Success Just Clicks)
Therapy Dogs Helping Seniors Live Longer. A feature on an assisted living facility in our area that welcomes therapy dogs; apparently it’s one of the only ones in our region that does. (Dog Days/Grouchy Puppy)
Puppy Breath, Take Me Away. Tales and Tails visits a socialization day for a new litter of fuzzy, heartbreakingly cute German shepherd puppies. Just because we can all use more puppy pictures on a daily basis. (Tales and Tails)
Green paws? The malinois is really getting into gardening these days. I just loved these photos; he looks like he is having such a good time. (Exercise Finished)
What shall I do–it whimpers so–
This little Hound within the Heart
All day and night with bark and start–
And yet, it will not go–
Would you untie it, were you me–
Would it stop whining–if to Thee–
I sent it–even now?