Who Gets the Bully?

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. ~Robert Benchley

Recently, I found myself tuned in to Cesar Milan (you know, the Dog Whisperer), and he was promoting an upcoming show in which a couple needed his help with their bulldog mix who’d bitten their 3-year-old child.

The couple trained horses for a living, and the mom — despite the boy’s scars, despite her husband’s pleas to get rid of the dog — prided her abilities and refused to admit defeat. Even if the dog bit the boy again.

What was she thinking??

This was her BABY. Her only child. Yet she turned a deaf ear on reason.

Stuff like that infuriates me.

When Domer was little, like many kids, he was afraid of dogs. It started when the neighbor’s Weimaraner jumped on him and slid its claws straight down his back. The mental trauma was much worse than the scratches.

I figured the best way to counteract his fear was to get a nice, gentle dog of our own. After shopping around, I found a beautiful Eskimo Spitz and brought him home.

At first, everything was fine. Domer was tentative around the dog, but I could tell he was warming up. Then, without cause, the dog started growling, snarling, nipping, and jumping on us. I chalked it up to playing, but Domer wasn’t having any of it.

Instead, my poor son refused to get down on the floor for fear of the dog. As soon as he’d come into the kitchen, he’d perch atop the counters (where the dog couldn’t reach him) and scoot from one counter to another.

I couldn’t have that, so reluctantly, I found a new home and a good family for the dog.

A few years passed, and we tried again. This time, Darling Doggie Dallas came home with us, and he’s been an angel. Shelties are easy to train and want to please their owners. Dallas doesn’t jump on people (usually), and when Domer comes home, he and the dog spend lots of time cuddling and chilaxing.

But if Dallas hadn’t worked out, he, too, would have been shipped off. No dog is worth more than my own kid.

I don’t know how Cesar’s training went for this couple with the bulldog, but I have my suspicions. I’m betting the couple got divorced, Dad got the kid, and crazy Mom got the mean ole bully.

What do you think?!

27 thoughts on “Who Gets the Bully?

  1. ” No dog is worth more than my own kid.”

    I agree, Debbie! I would have found the dog a new home as well. No dog is worth putting child in harm’s way.

    Because my mother was such an animal lover (especially dogs), we were raised having dogs in our home. We were taught to respect dogs (and all animals), but if there had ever been a time when one of our dogs were like the one in this story, even she would have gotten rid of it.

    ” This time, Darling Doggie Dallas came home with us, and he’s been an angel. Shelties are easy to train and want to please their owners.”

    And just from looking at the photos you’ve shared of Dallas, I can tell he’s an angel. Sweet, gentle, and very lovable!

    Have a terrific Thursday, dear friend!

    • Thanks for understanding, Ron. I’m a dog-lover, too — from way back — but owning a pet is a choice and requires a level of responsibility. It’s up to the parents to set the tone, and I can’t help wondering what the little boy in this program must think. Even a three-year-old must know when he ranks behind the family’s pets in importance — and how sad is that??

      Yep, Dallas was the perfect choice. He has a sensitivity and seems to understand that not everyone is enamored of dogs. That’s probably due to a Sheltie’s natural reticence.

      Always great when you stop by here, my friend. Have a super rest-of-your-week!

  2. We had to do the same thing! After our springer spaniel bit our son, we found a home for her with a couple that didn’t have kids. The dog couldn’t be trusted around children. We never even questioned if it was the right thing to do!

    • Good for you! It’s such a hard thing to do, when you think you’ve made a forever home for a pet, to then have to un-make that decision. But gee, who wants to chance their kid getting hurt, maimed, terrified, whatever, when it’s within their power to prevent it? I never second-guessed my decision, either. Even now, Domer usually will refuse to talk about that first dog.

  3. Once upon a time before television went to head Cesar Milan was one of the good guys. He practiced sound training techniques and while he worked with difficult dogs he would never have advised keeping a bulldog in a family where a child was bitten. The parents in this situation are clueless and Caesar is an idiot. Little know fact – most dogs don’t like kids. For good reason. However, they suffer them because they know they are lower in the pack order. Once that order has been disrupted by allowing a bite the pack has changed and a the balance becomes very precarious. If you wouldn’t leave a loaded gun on the kitchen table for your kid to get a hold of, you certainly shouldn’t have a dog in your home that has the potential to seriously hurt your child. No child deserves to be terrorized by the family dog. .
    Shelties are excellent family and kid pups as are Boxers and Beagles. Boxers are probably the only breed of dog that really do like children. Some breeds are not good family dogs and all breeds will do what they are breed to do. Research is the key to happy dog ownership. Passionate about this subject–you betcha. Well said, Debbie.

    • Hear, Hear, the voice of experience! Couldn’t have explained it better myself, Katybeth!

      For the record, though, I don’t know what Cesar recommended for this family, as I didn’t watch the program (it was just a promo). I’m not sure I *could* have watched it, having seen the scars on that baby’s hand. I understand that sometimes, a person with a dog will marry someone without, and the dog might not warm up to the newcomer. Same thing can happen with kids. It’s not *cute* and it’s not funny. The “odd man out” stands to be picked on by the dog, who sees him/her as an interloper.

      You’re right — research is key. So is reason. Dogs can add so much to a family, IF you’ve chosen the right dog and trained it properly. Thanks for your input, Kb!

  4. Dallas is a good dog. If the dog isn’t good with your kids it (the dog not the kid!) needs to be found a new home. Some are trainable and some not so much…

    • Kim, I think some dogs just aren’t meant to be around kids. Whether it’s because of their breed or because of unfamiliarity doesn’t much matter. Kids need to come first, as you said. That couple should have farmed the dog out, or opted not to have kids if they were more interested in keeping such a beast!

  5. When I was very young — maybe four? — our neighbors brought me a small black puppy for my birthday. I think it was a Cocker Spaniel, but I only remember some curly hair, so that might not be right. In any event, there was nothing wrong with the dog except he was excited, he barked, and he scared me to death. I jumped up onto the dining room table, and that was it. Dog – gone.

    A few years ago I had to call a vet’s assistant I knew because Dixie began stalking me. She hissed. She skulked. She swatted and tried to bit. She terrified me, to be quite frank. She wouldn’t let me into my own bedroom.

    Well! Guess what? The vet tech asked if I had the windows open. I said I did. She asked if I’d been outside. I said I had. She said, “Close the windows. Turn on the AC. Take off all your clothes and put them in the laundry immediately. Wash them, now. If it’s not better in an hour or so, call me back.”

    Well you’ve probably guess it. It was mating season, and even though Dixie had been spayed, it was still punching her buttons. It was the pheromones drifting in the windows and picked up on my clothes that were getting to her. In a HOUR, all was well.

    I tell the story only to make the point that ignorance isn’t always bliss. There are reasons for animal behavior, but if the behavior can’t be changed, the animal needs to go. I was lucky — I had an easy problem to solve. But if I’d been that mother? Goodbye, puppy.

    • Linda, I’m amazed by your story about Dixie. I never would’ve thought a spayed cat would exhibit such behavior — lucky you, having a vet who not only understood but also knew how to remedy the situation!

      As for the little black puppy, your mother and dad were wise to send it packing. No way should a child be terrorized at the expense of having a pet! Reason always should prevail, and it’s not reasonable to expect a child to be a chew toy for a dog!

  6. I adore my dog and we treat her like a little princess. But if she ever hurt one of my kids, there’d be no question about who had to go. I can’t imagine keeping a pet that bites people. Although, come to think of it, my mom had several Pekingese dogs when we were growing up. One of them was a mean and hateful little thing. He adored my mom, but he drew blood from us kids on more than one occasion. I took to walking around the house in winter boots because he was fond of toes.

    • The thing about having a pet who bites people — and I’m not talking only about dogs, though obviously, dogs have teeth and thus the potential to bite! — it could be really expensive if your dog bit somebody. You might have to pay for their medical care AND get rid of the dog. Better to waylay a problem before it develops. I guess it goes back to good breeding, huh? Your solution to the biting Peke sounds like a winner!

  7. No animal is worth a child or any other human being. I believe the best medicine for a child who is fearful of an animal is a dog. I’ve seen first hand completely terrified children fall in love their new puppy, and then weeks later hug every dog they came across. Animals work miracles. That family had quite a mess, Debbie. Wow.

    • That’s why I wanted little Domer to have a dog, Audrey. Same thing happened with me. I was afraid of dogs, too, when I was little, and then we got a goofy Beagle who erased those fears. Dallas did the same thing for Domer. But if he’d ever so much as showed a sign of aggression, he’d have been outta here in a heartbeat!!

  8. Your summation at the end of what might have happened made me chuckle. I do have to agree that as parents, our duty is to protect our children. I love animals, and thankfully I haven’t had to make the choice, but if it came down to it, the pet would have to go if it wasn’t working out.

    • See? You, too, are reasonable, Janna. Obviously, the mother in this segment was not. And it surprised me a little to see the dad being so nurturing and protective of his boy, while the mom was completely indifferent. If I get the chance to see the entire show, I’m going to try (even if I have to shade my eyes when they show the child’s wounds). I’m kind of curious how it played out!

  9. Debbie, it’s awesome to read your stuff–cause you’re always right on! *fist thingy* Anyways and a few, I’ve got to love Dallas. I can just tell he’s a special pooch. I remember being terrified of dogs as well. So, my mom brought a German Shepherd home! Of all dogs, right? Well, he turned out to be the best. I grew up with that bloke. And he was huge. But he was the greatest of dogs, I think.

    • *blushes* You always say the nicest things, Professor — thanks! I wonder if most little kids are afraid of dogs? Probably because they look like wolves, which are typically the bad guys in fairy tales! Anyway, I was one of those little kids, too, until my dad insisted we get a dog — that silly Beagle did the trick! I’m glad your mom got you a good dog to erase your fears, too — a German Shepherd, though? Wow, he must have been especially laid back. And no wonder you wanted two more to take the first one’s place!!

  10. It’s why I haven’t adopted a cat. Not that I’m crazy about them, mind you, but when my daughter was a Girl Scout, her troop visited a center devoted to the care of cats. The girls were allowed to pet the cats and one of the cats terrorized my daughter by scratching her arms up. Needless to say, right then and there she developed a distaste for the feline breed. We live in a cat-free zone and for the sake of my daughter, it’s for the best.

    • Understandable, Monica. A similar thing happened to me. When I was little, a cat scratched my arm, and I’ve been leery of them ever since. Always best to put our kids before pets — easier to farm pets out than kids, too, ha!

  11. Seems like a no brainer to get rid of the dog and keep the kid. So fortunate for your boy and dog that you were willing to train or trade in the dog, so that Domer could grow up enjoying the affection –not fear– of being a pet owner.

    • I rather thought it was a no brainer, too, Pat, and am glad to hear I’m not the only one! I can’t imagine any dog (or cat, bird, horse, fish, whatever) becoming more important that a living human child. If this mom didn’t want kids, she knew how to prevent it. The sad thing is, the bulldog didn’t even have “cute” going for it, ha!

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