On Owning Dogs…

Sometimes I think that some people truly have no concept of how much a dog can become a vital part of a family. Even greater than this, though directly connected, is the idea that some people have no concept of just how damage they can cause when they fail to take into consideration other people when they allow certain things to happen or when they deliberately increase the likelihood of said things happening.

Let me explain.

My family owns two dogs (we used to have three but, sadly, the eldest passed away several years ago from heart difficulties) and we love them to pieces. I can understand why some people are quite skeptical of the bond that has so very often united man and dog in all aspects of life but it is undeniable that from work to the home, dogs have played a vital role in the history of humankind. More than this however, they have become a source of companionship for thousands of people, my family included. On a personal level, my dogs have been a source of immense joy and their natural tenacity and capacity for loyalty have most certainly endeared them to me. To put it plainly, I love my dogs. I love them more than I love most of the people I have known or will ever come to know. My family does its best to look after them since not only do we care about them so much, we understand that we have a responsibility to them. They never asked to be brought into our care and they depend on us immensely. We have thus taken care to understand our dogs, their temperaments, likes and dislikes. Our lives with them have not always been the easiest, but we try all the same because trying is nothing less than what they deserve.

This is why it has been extremely upsetting to have had to make an emergency trip back home from university because my youngest dog had been attacked by another dog who, from what my family now understands, has a reputation for attacking other dogs with unpredictable viciousness.

Now, I do not fault the dog. It is quite clear that this dog has either been raised badly or has an unsuitable temperament that has not been adequately dealt with. In both these cases, if the owner does not want to destroy the dog, then it is his responsibility to muzzle the animal, maintain an adequate distance from other people and animals and to always keep it on a lead (leash).

Owners such as these really don’t seem to understand that the physical damage that a dog attack causes is only a small fraction of the story. The mental trauma that this event has caused both my animal and my mother (who had found our dog unconscious and covered in blood and torn flesh) is far more horrendous to behold. Owners such as these don’t understand the pain that comes with an energetic, happy dog turning into a frightened, whimpering mess or a mother sobbing in hysterics because she feels so guilty and helpless. It is such a shame that the joy of owning such wonderful animals is jeopardized by such irresponsibility: irresponsibility that almost cost my family the life of a dear friend.

My youngest dog, Phoebe.

My youngest dog, Phoebe.