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Thursday, February 8,2018

Right Car, Wrong Driver

By Tina Valant-Siebelts  

As a newly licensed driver, you wouldn’t expect to get permission and the keys to a Ferrari or a Maserati. Very likely, you would be risking your life and crashing a very expensive vehicle. It would be wise to get some driving experience under your (seat)belt and take a few highperformance driving lessons. This preparation would increase your enjoyment, keep you alive, the car in one piece, and allow you to truly optimize this once in a lifetime experience. Okay, Tina, so how does this relate to dogs?


Daily exercise of the mind, body and spirit are basic requirements for every dog’s health and well being. Dogs also require love, attention, healthy food, structure and wellness care. Responsible owners must make the best decisions for our dogs, like avoiding flexi-leads and maintaining a healthy weight. In return, we receive unconditional love, protection and companionship. No amount of training or discipline will change dogs’ DNA/ natural behaviors. Certain traits are prevalent in breeds:

Herders are high energy, agile and super smart. They instinctively manage/ guide livestock.

Hounds are motivated by sight/scent of prey, they are known to be very vocal.

Sporting members spring into action outdoors. They require daily vigorous exercise, and love water.

Terriers can be stubborn, tenacious and stalk small prey. They are comical and very active.

Toy breeds can be bossy, barky and possessive of their people and things.

Working dogs are highly intelligent, loyal, and require abundant space, a job and exercise.

Herding/working dogs are like high performance vehicles. They are not recommended for first time or inexperienced owners. It doesn’t matter that you watch every episode of Cesar, grew up on a farm with (insert breed here), or your last dog of the same breed was super calm. Dogs are individuals.

A couple of us rescuers received an urgent message asking for help with a problem dog who had recently been placed. “He had bitten more than once, unprovoked and latched down”. The plea for help was to take the dog from the current home and have him humanely euthanized, due to extreme liability and bite risk. The owner could not bring himself to do it.

Turns out this nice-looking, purebred dog was under two years old, and came from a decent breeder up north. Well, decent until they weren’t willing to take the dog back. Reputable breeders and rescues stand behind their dogs. In most purchase/sale/adoption agreements, if you are no longer able to keep the dog, it MUST be returned to the breeder/rescue at your sole cost/responsibility, without any refund.

He had been bounced around, and never properly (hands-on) evaluated when accepted into rescue. The homes he had been placed in had the best intentions, but “had never driven a Maserati” (herding breed novices). One home allowed the toddler to blow in the dog’s face. Child was bitten, in the face. Another dog was surrendered, because he nipped the kids, when they crawled on his back, demanding rides. “Well, he never minded before”, they told me. I nearly bit through my tongue that day.

Dogs and children require constant supervision. Kids should NEVER interact without permission, lay upon, ride, hug, blow into or kiss the dog’s face. It doesn’t matter that, “The dog allowed it before”. With any living thing, there are no 100% guarantees.

We all have “off days” where we may say or do something totally uncharacteristic, because we too can be unpredictable. Do not allow a lack of boundaries to result in a child being maimed and/or a dog possibly losing its life.

Since the rescuer who fetched the “biter” is super-dog-savvy, she knew how to properly handle and que the dog. She could not have him PTS, and nor would the vet. Honorable, animal-loving vets refuse to euthanize a young, healthy animal. Instead they opt for the owner to sign the dog over, and then place in a reputable rescue. This Ferrari of a dog has been the perfect gentleman in her care, and this week, he heads to a new life - thanks to finally landing with the “right driver”.


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