March 16, 2009

Can't Win

Back in September, we got a dog. He's a beautiful pit, such a sweet and gentle dog, but loyal and protective right down to the bone. And I think we shall rename him Peter Pan, because on Friday I ensured he would remain forever a boy, never to grow up and be a man.

I took the dog to the local animal center, to the Neuter Commuter to get him fixed. This was kind of a rough decision for me. He's a purebred, so I was pretty hesitant. I was thinking that maybe someday there would be the possibility of breeding him with a female, because he is such a gorgeous dog. But after the first time my son told me to look and wasn't it sweet how the dog was hugging him, and I realized that the dog WASN'T hugging him, I decided that it would be best. Of course, the decision was made after my very hasty shout, "Oh, yeah, that's real make him get down!".

It wasn't just because the dog tried to make a man out of my boy that I decided this though. It was other things, too. Like the way the dog tries to take a chunk out of everyone save 6 people: me, my 2 boys, my 2 parents, and his original owner. I've read and talked to people and learned that frequently, neutering can curb some of that. And the fact that his un-neutered tags would be $35, and his neutered tags will only be $3 also had a not insignificant role in the decision making process.

But what really got to me about this whole process is the idiocy that goes along with it. I had to call and set up an appointment. When they set up the appointment, they make a point of telling you not to give the dog food after 6pm the day before, and no water after midnight. All this because it might interfere with the surgery. Great, no problem.

Until I get there. Because Peter Pan (hehe) doesn't like strangers too much, I decided that given the strange surroundings, stressful circumstances, and the fact that I don't know what he'll do when out and about like that, that I would muzzle him as a safety precaution. I don't really think he would bite anyone, but why take that chance?

Apparently, I should have taken that chance. They told me they might not do the surgery because I muzzled him. When I politely tell the woman that that is something they should mention on the phone when setting up the appointment, her response is that they ASSUME that all the dogs coming in are "socialized". My response? "Well, I ASSUMED that you would tell me that he couldn't be muzzled." And since THEY are the ones who deal with this everyday, THEY should know to mention something like this. He did get his surgery, and he is a...well, let's not call him happy just yet, ok?

But, that brings me to my problems. If I hadn't muzzled him, and he'd bitten a person or another animal, then I'd have been yelled at for not taking precautions and muzzling him. But when I do muzzle him, I'm told that I shouldn't do that. I just can't win.

And while we're on the subject, let's discuss this "socialization". I have to say, I'm quite sick of hearing about this. Everyone wants me to take my dog around and basically introduce him to all the people and animals in the neighborhood, and I'm sorry, but I won't do it. Pretty much the reason I agreed to get Peter Pan was because I thought he would be good protection for my family and my home. I am not going to defeat that purpose by making him friendly to the world. I want him to protect us, not lick the burglar while he steals all my stuff or ties me and my kids up. None of these people, who want to demand I take my dog around and "socialize" him, have ever asked about his temperment or his behavior. If they had, they would know that this dog is as gentle as a newborn lamb with my sons. My youngest son tries to ride him like a horse, has thrown rocks and sticks at him, hit him, pulled his tail, kicked him, and pretty much anything else you can think of, and Peter Pan has never once tried to hurt him. Peter Pan wouldn't let me go outside one night after dark, and I discovered later it was because there was a snake out there. Stray dogs come up to the fence and Peter Pan just looks at them, only barking or growling if he thinks they're going to try to come thru the fence. People go by on the street, and he may bark or quietly growl, but he only becomes aggressive if he thinks they will try to come onto our property, and even then, only if my boys and/or myself are out there. He even will use his teeth to grab my sons' clothing and pull them down if they try to climb on the fence.

So, tell me, why do I need to introduce my dog to everyone on earth? I don't see the need. The woman at the animal center said so that if he gets out, he will know how to act. Ok, let's think about this for a minute. First of all, if he got out, I wouldn't be a very good dog owner, would I? I check my fence daily to ensure he can't get out. And second, let's be realistic here, how the hell does introducing him to the entire neighborhood teach him how to act if he does get out? That's like saying I should introduce my kids to everyone in the neighborhood so they will know what to do if they get kidnapped. There is no connection. Knowing everyone will not stop him from doing whatever he wants, and knowing Peter Pan, what he would want would be to get right back into his own little yard. And of course, those people will insist I'm wrong, no matter what.

I just can't win.