I took Terra for a walk yesterday down at the local Marina. This was our first walk around people, and I have to say that she did pretty darn well! I was quite proud. She wore her purple jacket, and I do admit that I used a prong collar on her. She has a habit of pulling when she gets excited, and since breaking my wrist last year I just can’t handle the torque on my wrist when it’s cold. They’re safe to use, when used and fitted properly, and are considered a self-correcting training aid. I’ve been avoiding using one on her, as I didn’t want people to see an AmStaff with a prong collar on and then freak out when they saw her thinking that she needed the prong collar and then in turn assuming that she was some vicious-man-eating-creature-from-the-guttural-depths-of-hell (you know… all 42 pounds of her). She doesn’t; I only put it on her for my ease.
What this post is about, though, is the fact that I ran into an ignorant dumbass who has no business owning a dog. This woman was walking her very large lab on a retractable leash and absolutely refused to control her dog. When she, and her dog, were about 10 feet away, her Lab rushes at Terra. Terra, in turn, panicked and did her best to hid behind me. At this point, the woman starts hollering that I’d better get my dog away from hers, and get my dog under control. I told her that she better lock her damn leash and keep going or I was going to be calling animal control or the on-duty Ranger. As she walked away she never locked the leash or recalled her dog, and poor Terra was petrified and just wanted to get out of there. I, however, wanted it to be a controlled exit, so due to the lack of control of the other woman, her damn dog was hounding us until he hit the end of his leash.
I’ve always been very firm on having my dogs on a very tight heel, and this is no different with Terra. In fact, due to the prejudice again the breed, I’m borderline obsessive about it with her. I don’t want there to be any risk of someone blaming her for something she didn’t do. I understand that people fear the breed, but that’s not the way it should be. For one, I’ve personally never encountered a human-aggressive AmStaff. However, I’ve had to protect my sisters from a Black Lab that did want to cause harm to them. You know who came to our rescue, though? Our dog Cougar, who was an AmStaff. She jumped an 8 foot fence when she heard the girls scream behind me when the dog charged us, and was there by the second charge. The only reason why I beat Cougar there was because I heard the aggressive barking coming from the yard across the street from our backyard. I just happened to be outside, but didn’t realize I’d closed the gate behind me when I went charging through.
I got into a physical altercation with the dog, and I know for a fact that this dog would have mauled my sisters if it hadn’t been for me and the dog. The entire time that I was trying to get the girls back onto our property, Cougar stayed between us and the other dog. She never once attacked it, just kept it at bay. Eventually, the people who owned the dog ran outside and tried to get their dog, but it turned on them in the heat of the moment. My step-dad eventually made it out to us, and made sure the dog couldn’t come back after us. Cougar stayed with us, and escorted us into the house. That dog became a Hero that day. We found out, later, that the Lab had a history of aggression towards humans. They eventually moved and we never had to deal with them or their dog again.
That experience really soured me on Labs for quite some time, and for a while I was even a bit closed minded about them. However, as I matured, I began to realize that it’s not the breed that’s a problem, but the people who own the animal. This is particularly applicable with AmStaffs. This is a breed that was actually bred to be averse to human-aggression. What good is a fighting dog that turns on its handler? In addition to that, they were also bred as family dogs and babysitter dogs. I know people will have their opinions, but I hate the closed mindedness. Frankly, I’d be more concerned about a Chihuahua than an AmStaff.
Whenever topics like this come up, people try and quote bite report statistics, but the problem with those reports and studies is that anything that doesn’t look like a particular breed is automatically lumped into the Pit Bull, or Pit mix, label. Also, when small dogs bite, it’s not reported. This also skews the results. When I was working at a local vet office the most people-aggressive dogs we dealt with her Labs, Golden Retrievers, Pomeranians, Miniature Poodles, and Chihuahuas. That’s just my experience, though.