Dear Small-Breed Dog Owners,
Open letters are all the rage these days. Paris Hilton, Candy Spelling… Trend-setters, both of them.
I’m writing you today not to criticize, but to begin a dialogue. First let me say that I love all dogs regardless of size and price tag, so your little Maltiwhassit is just as majestic as any Great Dane, German Shepherd, or other
real large dog.
Yesterday I stopped by the WellPets Economy Clinic to get some low-cost shots for my little border collie/beagle mix puppy, Alex. There were several other small-breed dog owners there and I have a few observations I’d like to share with you. Certainly, my perspective is that of an outsider, but sometimes a little distance can allow one to see clearly.
Question 1 : Are your dog’s legs broken? If not, why are you carrying him/her around like a baby when he’s perfectly capable of walking? I don’t know any dog who doesn’t like a good walk–that’s because they have a natural urge to roam the forest in search of food. Hard to imagine Fluffy doing that, I’m sure, but a dog by any other name…
Question 2: Were you always so frightened by
real regular-sized dogs or was it only after you realized you were walking around with a squeak toy much smaller animal? Yesterday a woman with a Malti-poo happened to feel a wave of charity and actually allowed her precious ankle-biter baby down on the ground. Just a moment later, as the pup was investigating its surroundings on a leash that was much too long, the owner jerked the poor animal away from a perfectly friendly Staffordshire Bull Terrier. How appalling.
The reason that these two behaviors concern me so much is that, ultimately, I feel that the dog is the one that suffers from all this coddling.
First, a dog needs exercise. That means lots and lots of walking. Not lots and lots of carrying. Also, do you realize that carrying him/her like that is robbing your dog of the rich sensory experience of sniffing, licking, and interacting with the world? No wonder small dogs have such a reputation for being snappish, nervous, and down-right mean. Could you blame them (inexperienced as they are) for being a little freaked out?
Secondly, I can’t tell you how insulting it is when you assume that the dog next to you wants nothing more than to have little Fluffy for a light snack. How would you feel if other dog owners took one look at your animal and then hastily pulled their dogs away, shrieking something about, “That vicious beast!” This is why small-breed owners have a reputation not only for having the worst-behaved dogs in the room, but being the least capable owners. The truth is, your dog follows your example… If you act like all other dogs are going to kill him/her, what kind of message are you sending to your animal? How would you feel if you were told to be afraid of almost everything?
Phew. Well, I’ve said my piece. Thanks for reading and, as always, please comment! Like I said, I want to start a dialogue here.