They’re not all like that, continued

Continued from last Friday:

Tierce Cartoon Sitting, Looking Up & Cocking Head

Yeah, this is all about me. And why shouldn't it be?

I still have to keep from automatically launching into my spiel when people say that they want a dog like Tierce.  Because I don’t think I’m normal and maybe Tierce is the ideal dog for my circumstances because I shaped him that way and was aware of his needs.  As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, via Sherlock Holmes:

“My line of thoughts about dogs is analogous. A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others.”

The problem of putting this all at my door, or at Susan’s, is that I have adapted to owning Shibas just as much as Tierce has adapted to me.  For me, it’s second nature to waggle my leg in front of an opening door to confuzzle a Shiba hoping to escape.  Dominance is automatically met with the appropriate equivalent of You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”.  He gets out for several walks a day and I take him running and geocaching and to the dog park for heartier exercise.  I accept that I may never be able to let him off leash without doing a complex algorhythm in my mind, calculating the likelihood of other dogs or prey animals being nearby.

This is why I temper my raving about how awesome he is around the artlessly enthusiastic.  I know that without the complicated calculation that is great breeders, preparation, education, financial stability, the right attitude needed to effect change without breaking the dog’s spirit, time and the help of friends and family, Tierce would not be the awesome dog that he is.

For Shibas everywhere, that scares me, simply because I know the fickleness of the general population when it comes to dogs.  They don’t often look beyond the surface of a dog attack or breeds considered “snappy”, “fear-biters”, “bad with kids”, “horrible at the vets”, etc.  Thus, when people breed and raise Shibas irresponsibly, there’s the risk of people shrugging off unusual aggression or fear in a Shiba as ‘oh, that’s just how they are’.  No, we need people to say to themselves, “Well all the Shibas I know are great little dogs.  What’s wrong with that one?”

Understanding that dogs are individuals, affected by heredity and environment just as people are is, to my mind, one of the first steps to approaching dog ownership as a human responsibility, rather than something that can be determined or regulated by a dog’s breed or physical appearance.

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The Misanthropic Shiba

3 Comments

  1. I agree. My Shiba is naturally very wary of anything that he deems unecessary, such as injections, teeth cleaning and being wiped with a towel. He has acted aggressively to me a few times but it is fear related and it is my responsibility to be patient and work with him daily to gain his trust and make sure that he becomes (he’s still only a year old) a well balanced dog.
    I get so many ‘oh I want a dog just like him – he’s so well behaved’, or ‘oh they’re easy to train’ NO THEY’RE NOT! They’re smart, but their motivation to perform is low – instincts have a much higher motivation eg. chasing that squirrel in the park and ignoring you shouting somewhere in the background. It takes patience.
    He’s naturally a lovely dog – he doesn’t like being aggressive but will if he feels it’s needed. The more I work on him trusting me, the less frequently this appears and our relationship on all levels gets stronger. I even have him off lead most days (in smaller parks!)…

  2. I completly agree with you in all aspects of your comments here. I take Tonka to the Dog park every couple of days andd like most dogs he loves it. We have been going since he was a baby (14 weeks) and he knows almost everyone, but has no problem saying hi to every human in the park.

    i take him to the local pet stores (4 or 5 of them) to to socialize (show people the breed) and walk through the dogs ther are up for adoption. He is a awesome loveable dog, People just fall in love with him because he loves the touch of humans and cute to boot. He will lean up against someone to get his belly rubbed. I also them them he cant be trusted off the leash or aloud to have idle time when not tired, because you will find out the hard way. I then call him Satan in a white coat, his ears are pointed for a good reason.. 🙂

    I then go into a 5 to 10 minutes speach on what type of breed he is and how they are not usually like this so you have to be very careful with them blah, blah, blah. if you like the way the breed looks and the way he acts dont use him as a model.

    I also tell them i spent time Japan and know the breed from there, so if you like the breed do your homework on them, when i found him I knew he was special from the first second i met him…

    I also think we have a special bond and that it shows through to all who see us together, our training is daily as this is what he aspects from me and I enjoy interacting with him in this way. Its our way to communicate, and whats better than talking between human and Aminal.

    I dont take full credit for the way Tonka is but I think I can take alittle and Im ok with it. Humans either Dictate, learn to tolerate, enfuse there life with a animal and its sad if its anything but enfusing

    Like childern most of them are not born into being monters there lives turn them into one.

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