People want the perfect dog. They want Lassie. Lassie is a bit like the Jesus – holier than average. Perfect most of the time. I say most of the time because even Jesus lost his shit.
I don’t particularly care to enter any religious debate. Truth is, Jesus has a reputation and most people have heard of him. He fed the hungry, saved baby lambs, taught children and washed the feet of prostitutes. “Turn the other cheek”…that would be Jesus.
Despite the cheek turning, there is an exception. In a fit of righteous indignation, Jesus charged into the temple, turning over tables. He used a whip to drive out the moneylenders and the animals.
On a scale of one to ten, Jesus was at eleven.
Yet owners are told that no dog should EVER show ANY sign of aggression. Dog aggression is pretty cut and dry. Dogs that bite rarely get second chances. Holy heck, we want our dogs to act better than Jesus did.
Never mind that they are animals and have no moral code to abide by. Pets certainly cannot write letters to newspaper editors, nor can they protest or unionize. Our expectations of what dogs should tolerate are high. We want them better than Jesus no matter what the circumstances.
Quickly glace through social media, pictures of kids riding dogs like horses or shoving macaroni up their poor animal’s nostril. Infants grasp handfuls of fur as they yank the dog closer for a hug and kiss. Why? So parents and owners can post pictures online captioned with phrases like, “So cute!”
No, it is not cute. It is bullying. That dog ain’t no Jesus that will turn the other cheek indefinitely.
Other dogs live a life of unpredictable expectations and nagging. Mom invites the dog up on the sofa. “Daddy’s gone – come and cuddle.” When dad gets home, the dog is scolded for being on the couch, and then labeled as being stubborn and dominant.
No, it is not okay. It is confusing and stressful. That dog ain’t no Jesus that will turn the other cheek indefinitely.
Aggression begets aggression. That should not be hard to understand. Retaliation is no surprise. We should expect that with repetition, a dog is going to bite the hand that strikes it.
No, it is not discipline. It is hitting. That dog ain’t no Jesus that will turn the other cheek indefinitely.
As our dogs grow older, illness can trigger aggression. Even in youth, routine care can be painful. Unwell dogs often have a short fuse. Unwell people often have a short fuse too. It’s understandable when a human is the one suffering.
No, reacting to pain and illness is not disobedience. It is a dog that needs empathy. That dog ain’t no Jesus that will turn the cheek indefinitely.
Even the perfect dog can get scared. Fear keeps us safe from things that can legitimately cause us harm. Many dogs spend too much time chained, penned or avoiding life. They fail to receive adequate socialization that will help them learn that the world is a safe place. Humans need to help dogs out of legitimately dangerous situations while teaching dogs to feel safe in normal daily life.
No, scared dogs are not spoiled. These animals did not get the advantages that socialization offers. That dog ain’t no Jesus that will turn its cheek indefinitely.
At the end of a day, we can aim for Lassie. Rare genetic factors and past history aside, the burden is mostly on us. We socialize to prevent problems. We condition our dogs to various handling. We step in and prevent our dog from harm and bullying. Dog lovers should ask permission before petting dogs. Owners should condition dogs to accept touch as a precaution.
We do this because our dogs have to put up with us. Too many dogs have to put up with too much provocation from humans. We expect dogs to take it and take it and never protest. A steady stream of grievances chips away at our dog’s patience, wearing it thin. We should be surprised and grateful that dogs tolerate as much as they do.
Therefore, it is a good reminder to realize that even “perfect” Jesus really lost his shit. Your dog ain’t no Jesus. Maybe we should rethink what constitutes provocation instead of assuming that dogs will tolerate us indefinitely. Maybe, sometimes, we need to have their back, ensuring that expectations are realistic. Realistically speaking, no one can expected to endure repeated provocation and not eventually blow up.