I was reading through some blog posts when I found a post about a friend’s rotten dog. She determined that her friend has a rotten dog because it bit… and based on two biting incidents (I don’t know the details of the first), she seems to have come to the conclusion that the dog has decided that it doesn’t like children.
I’m no stranger to a rotten dog. Winston the Wonder Chihuahua is a terrible little dog, but oh, how I love him. And Norton loves him. And really, he loves Norton. However, he’s also nipped Norton. I’ve said that each and every time it was not the dog’s fault. It was not Norton’s fault. It was my fault for not separating them fast enough. And I have very passionate viewsabout the decision to bring a loving family pet into your home: it’s for a lifetime. Sure, sometimes a pet can be successfully rehomed, but there are times when a loving family pet is so devoted to a family member that rehoming is not an option. If you’ve ever seen a dog pine for its master, then you know it’s a sad, sad thing.
Here’s the thing, though: Winston will bite Norton if I don’t prevent Norton from hurting him with his aggressive toddler behavior. And that’s my fault for not protecting Winston fast enough so that Winston felt the need to do it himself. There is no creature in the world that will sit back and take being pinched and hit and just plain hurt.
And you know what else? Winston still loves children. He loves Norton and has gone back to wanting to play with him… especially when we’re outside. He’s more wary of Norton, but he still really wants to love Norton, and he really wants to feel like Norton loves him back. When our friend stops by with her little girl, Winston cries and cries until I let him upstairs. Yes, her mother knows that Winston has nipped because Norton hurt him. She also knows that we’re right there supervising and that her daughter knows that she can’t pinch the puppy. When there are groups of little kids, he’s okay if a couple of them pet him, but when they swarm, he gets nervous. And when he gets nervous, he comes to me. That’s not a dog that hates children. That’s a dog that hates being hurt.
Which tells me that my rotten dog is actually a pretty reasonable small family dog. Have you ever had a rotten dog?
Originally written September 5, 2011. Update: Winston has nipped Norton since then… and I have to say that generally, Norton deserves it by doing mean things like headbutting him or the like. Winston still loves Norton, but is very wary of him because of how rough Norton can be. I will say, though, that Winston nipped me the other day when he was going for Norton… and it hurt. It was meant to hurt, I think, because Norton was not respecting Winston’s repeatedly telling him “No!” However, it didn’t break the skin. Eudora is much gentler with Winston and pets him nicely. Winston has never shown her the slightest hint of irritation, even though Eudora is the same age now as Norton was when I originally wrote this. In fact, he just plain adores her.
T’akaya the Brilliant Border Collie has even nipped at Norton. Considering the amount of his garbage that she puts up with before even growling, I can’t blame her. And she’s nipped me before when going for Norton. I was actually relieved to know how she’ll nip: she’s the bigger dog and the one that I’d have worried more about hurting him. Fortunately, her nips are border collie nips: designed to keep the herd in line. She’s far from a rotten dog.