It’s been awhile, and Breed Specific Legislation   6 comments

I’ve been so busy with Castiel that I haven’t had time to update his blog!

Castiel is doing very well.  We start formal training classes in a week.  He’s learning to heel with a wave of the hand near our hip.  He walks beautifully on a loose lead.  He cuddles us and loves us.  He’s learning manners.  He’s very well socialized and now weighs 40 lbs!

His recall is quite good (practiced in a fenced off area) as long as he’s looking at us.  Down the road, we’ll likely get a remote vibration collar to use as his ‘look at me’ command.

He gets along really well with our cats and he loves people.  Most people don’t believe us when we tell them he’s deaf.

All that said, and I’m going to be updating MUCH more regularly, I’d like to take a moment to talk about another marginalized group that’s in more danger even than deaf dogs.

I live in Ontario.  In Ontario, all ‘pit bull type’ dogs are banned.  This includes any animal that looks like a ‘pit bull.’  If your animal is mistaken for a pit, they can enter your home and remove the dog and you may or may not be able to get them to bring it back to you, even if you are able to prove that your dog is not a pit.  It’s stupid and dog bites haven’t decreased in the years since this legislation passed.

If you have a ‘grandfathered’ pit bull, then your animal must be muzzled at all times in public.

Today, Castiel and I attended the Million Mutt March in Toronto.  Sadly, Kelly had to work.  While there, Castiel saw muzzles for the first time in his life.

A friendly, sweet natured ‘pit bull’ approached him, tail wagging. This dog was muzzled. Castiel, my puppy, in a panic, snapped and yelped and skittered backwards in horror. The dog in the wheelchair didn’t frighten him. The dog with no eyes didn’t scare him. My puppy, who confidently approaches ‘scary’ breeds like Dogo Argentine, was frightened in a way that I have never seen before. Castiel has been introduced to somewhere in the vicinity of 150 to 200 dogs or more in his short life.  We strongly believe in socialization as being one of the best ways to have a balanced, good natured animal.

I attribute his terror to the muzzle on the animal’s face. That was the only reason for him to be afraid. That was the only difference between this dog and any of the hundred or more others that Castiel has met and gotten along with. I spoke to my friend, who has two great danes, and apparently hers are often afraid of dogs with certain muzzles on.  Her dogs fear the cage style muzzles.  Castiel seemed most afraid of the strap type ones.

After awhile, Castiel stopped panicking when faced with muzzled animals and he calmed down. We had a great time at the March and met so many awesome people. In spite of that, the image of Castiel running from a potential friend in terror stays with me.

Why are people really afraid of ‘dangerous breeds’? I believe that the muzzles make people afraid of the dogs, as much as anything, and that their fear reactions instigate fear reactions from the dogs, in a vicious cycle where someone, in the end, gets hurt.  Any trainer worth their salt will tell you that reacting with fear to an animal will make it scare you and can create behaviour problems!

Why are we making dogs scary? Why are we making it so that animals respond to each other and us in fear? Why are we CREATING a problem in this manner?

Please help Ontario stop breed specific legislation.  First they came for the Pit Bulls… Who’s next?  There’s a city in the US where all dogs over 100 lbs, regardless of breed, are banned as dangerous animals.

I leave you with a quote from Martin Niemöller.  Just replace socialists, trade unionists and Jews with pit bulls, rottweilers and dobermans and you’ll have some idea of why breed specific legislation affects EVERY dog owner.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

This is the poor baby that terrified Castiel.  Photograph courtesy of Paul Hickey Photography.


6 responses to “It’s been awhile, and Breed Specific Legislation

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  1. Most dog owners muzzle to protect their own dogs from idiots who would otherwise freak out.

    • Not in this case, Dan. These dogs were muzzled simply because if they weren’t, because of their breed, they would have been destroyed, not allowed to live, just because the government, against expert advice, decided that they were bad.

  2. He’s a gorgeous boy – great work!! I’m a k9 behaviour specialist, and you are absolutely right – muzzles can cause fear reactions from the non-muzzled dog, which causes the muzzled dog confusion, then also fear, possibly aggression, and so on and so on and so on – it is a vicious circle. I even find that some dogs unnecessarily muzzled actually develop learned reactive aggression – when before the muzzle they were everyone’s best friend!! What a shame! The only way to avoid it – punish the deed and not the breed, and stop our Province from putting cuffs on innocent dogs! You made some excellent points, and it’s nice to see a deaf white Dane in such a happy, responsible home!!! Thank you!!!

    • I think that part of it may be, at least for Castiel, that he has to get all of his input from facial expression, not voice, and without the ability to see what the other animal’s face really looked like, he might have been afraid that the other dog was upset and just not known.

  3. As you mentioned, my danes are nervous around the cage-styled muzzles. And, like you said, deaf dogs rely more on sight so having a muzzle on makes my deafies act up. They also act up when people cover their faces with hoodies, scarves and even certain big hats. Attending the march was great for my guys because they always act better when presented with a large group of dogs than one dog at a time. And they got to see for themselves that muzzles are nothing to be nervous about.

    I can’t wait for this to be repealed and these awful things taken off all the Pitties’ faces. How many of them rubbed their face on my leg trying to get that muzzle off? How very very sad.

  4. Castiel looks absolutly wonderful guys!!!
    I I am hoping to see you at Woofstock tomorrow. Sat June 11 2011
    I am sure we will see Lynda and jack and Jill.
    Rain and Castiel’s sister Rory will be compeating in the Costume Contest
    with me being Harry Potter and the two Harl girls being Fluffy the three headed dog.
    would Love to see you guys.
    Cruiser Castiels dad should also be there as well. He is living happily in Toronto now.
    Briar (Castiels mom) will not be coming because of a forbidden romance (that I did not know about) with Cruiser shortly before he moved, Castiel will be a Big Brother in the next week or so.

    I love your blog and I totally agree about the muzzle’s and I aplaud you for speaking out as I am sure that Great Danes because of thier size will eventually be discriminated against as the Breed rules tighten up more and more.
    The Only Dangerous Dog Breed is the one with a Dangerous Human with a lack of training at the other end of the leash. Let’s MUzzle the real problem here not the poor dog that is just reacting to what it was taught. or not taught.

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