Over the weekend I participated in a pet show down in the GTA with some of the dogs. I shared the booth with a Pembroke person and printed literature so that we could educate the public on the breeds and so they could see first hand the differences between them.
Over the weekend we handed out hundreds of documents on the breed, the Blue Merle Pembroke fallacy, and finding a reponsible breeder. The dogs we took were for the most part excellent ambassadors for the breed until they were so exhausted they just wanted to sleep.
Now you can call me a breeder snob all you want, but breeder or not I expect a certain level of etiquette when my dogs are out in public. The public was allowed to bring their pets to this event and they were there in droves. But for every well behaved pet walking nicely beside its owner on a loose lead there were 25 straining and pulling dragging their owners along, or walking out at the end of a 6 foot leash, or lunging at dogs on the tables.
Specifically coming to mind were a Black and Tan dog (some type of Rottie cross) being walked by a young man brandishing a 6″ knife on his hip. To add insult to injury the dog had SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING patches on his harness. Now I am not going to comment on this mans need for a service dog, but what I am going to comment on is that this dog is in no way ready to meet the public. Go to a class, get a proper collar on your dog, and stop allowing it to jump on other dogs! There was no need for it to be a SD or SDIT to come to this event – it was open to everyone. In contrast, I saw a couple of very nice SD’s (both Lion’s Foundation) dogs assisting their handlers, a poodle and a black lab. I was growled at by a dog wearing ESA badges on its harness too. I also know of at least two SD’s that were there out of uniform. I also had the opportunity to speak with someone about the suitability of corgis as a potential candidate.
There was a very large German Shepherd dragging around two small women who were holding onto its harness. Again no collar or halti on the dog. I said “you should put a collar on that dog and get some control” as it lunged towards my puppies I was taking to the potty area, and in return I was sworn at.
I saw more pinch collars on dogs than I have ever seen in one place at one time. If I can control a 150+ lb Irish Wolfhound on a collar of this weight why can’t people handle dogs less than 50 lbs on one too?
Can’t see the collar? There is a reason for that!! When we show dogs we don’t want anything to detract from the overall look of the dog, so we use as tiny a collar as possible. Could he break that collar if he were poorly trained? In an instant!!
Here is the same weight of collar on a corgi. Again you can see the collar is loose – there is no tension or “choke” action – and that snap on the leash is tiny – maybe only 3/4″
Yet these dogs, and thousands like them, walk through hundreds or thousands of dogs and people every weekend on show equipment of this weight. Why can’t the general public?
I saw a lovely mastiff-type dog on a pink jewelled collar that at a soft command sat beside his owner as his wife talked to the Doberman fanciers, and I almost wanted to reach out and hug him and say “Thank you for being a responsible dog owner!”
Sunday afternoon I saw someone walking some type of exotic animal through the dog area. It was not long enough to be a Ferret and I think it was a Mongoose (edit: I’ve been told it was a lemur). I can only imagine how terrified it must have been no matter how well trained, walking among all these giants who had been bred to hunt and kill it. Think of yourself being asked to walk through a pride of lions – well fed lions – but lions nonetheless, with a single unarmed body guard. Would you do it?
Over and over again I asked people to please not let their dog’s get in my dog’s faces. The almost constant answer is “What’s wrong with your dogs? Do they snap?” I just ignored them but wanted to say – “No, but I don’t want the diseases your dog is carrying from the dog park to come home to my puppies and I don’t want to test your dogs temperaments on my dogs”.
Here is an example provided by Wendy Reyn of what a small dog uncontrolled on a long leash did to her dog. however this was not at ths weekend but it shows the damage that can be done,
There was a Chihuahua who’s owner insisted on picking it up and putting it in the faces of the larger dogs. She was very lucky that one of the dogs didn’t mistake it for a squeaky toy! The dog was terrified, trying to hide behind her, and curtains and under chairs and tables. Yet this owner was totally oblivious to the signals her dog was sending her – “I don’t want to be here!”
I’m sure every dog owner that went through the show on the weekend is proud of their dog and I am proud of mine for what they put up with over the weekend. Just remember, that a well-trained dog with impeccable crowd manners is far more impressive than a panting, drooling dog straining with all its might against a harness dragging its owner along as an afterthought.
Do you want people to respect and love your dog as much as you do? Invest in obedience classes or a private trainer, and then show the result in public! Out of all the dogs that stood out in my mind from the weekend, it was the pretty grey mastiff with the jewelled collar that could have broken it like thread, sitting beside her dad. Perhaps its time we started to licence the owners instead of the dogs. We need to make people accountable for showing some level of common sense before being allowed to ruin the life of an animal