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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happiness Is a Warm Gun Dog

Posted by on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Feisty then.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Feisty then: You wouldn't hit a man with puppy, would you?

A few days after adopting our dog Feisty as an eight-week-old pup, I had to drive up to Bellingham to participate in a panel discussion. Feisty was too young to be left alone for the half-day I'd be gone, so I brought her along for the ride. But I didn't trust leaving her alone in the car for the hour-long panel. So I grabbed the baby sling I'd kept as a cherished memento from my daughter's babyhood, and conducted the panel with a puppy strapped to my chest.

If there's anything more adorable than a baby in a baby sling, it's a puppy.

As expected, an audience member eventually asked about the puppy sling, to which I claimed self defense: "My blog generates a lot of threatening comments and emails," I quipped, "so I make it a point never to go out in public without a puppy." I mean, what better way to diffuse a potential hate crime, I imagined:

Crazed wing-nut attacker: "I'm going to kill you, you dirty commie Jewish scu.... oooh look, a puppy!"

Goldy: "She's only eight weeks old."

Crazed wing-nut attacker: "Can I pet her?"

Goldy: "Sure."

Of course, that scenario never actually played out, as none of these threatening emails and harassing phone calls ever culminated in more than some minor vandalism of the "I know where you live" variety. Still, I have to admit that the adult Feisty has provided a welcome sense of security over the past seven years, in addition to the companionship and affection my daughter and I sought.

Feisty now: Protecting her territory from foreign aggression.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Feisty now: Protecting her territory from foreign aggression.

Feisty grew to a modest but formidable stature, with a disposition that's... well... let's just say that she's not particularly eager to meet new people. Feisty is unfailingly gentle, affectionate, and submissive—to us—and apart from a handful of half-hearted ankle nips, she's never actually attacked anybody. But I can't blame strangers for fearing the worst.

Indeed, Feisty has earned a reputation for being ferociously protective of her territory, as anybody who has had the gall to walk too close to her yard or her car can attest. A year ago last summer our neighborhood was plagued by a string of daytime break-ins; the house across the street from ours was burglarized twice. But our house—the house with that crazy white dog—was never touched. Likewise, a few years back, I returned to my car late at night on a darkened Seattle street to find the windows smashed on the vehicles to either side of mine. But my car was intact, Feisty wagging her tail in the back seat. I can only imagine the start Feisty gave the car prowler, as she viciously lunged at the window, teeth bared, ears pinned back, a snarling archetype of canine terror.

Good dog.

To be clear, we did not get Feisty for personal protection. We got a dog because my daughter wanted one, and I didn't want to deny her the same wonderful experience of dog ownership that I enjoyed growing up. Also, I wanted a dog. I love dogs.

Yeah, I kinda wish that Feisty was a little more easy going. Okay, a lot more easy going. But there have certainly been times when it's been a comfort to have such an intimidating dog in my house, in my car, or at my side. There's a good reason why many home security experts recommend a dog if you're in a situation to properly care for one, even if only a little yappy dog (perhaps especially a little yappy dog): The barking alone is enough to drive would-be burglars away. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity, and the house without a barking dog presents a much better opportunity than the house with one.

No, Feisty's not likely to protect me from a determined killer, but then, I'm not ever likely to face a determined killer, so why arm myself against a paranoid fantasy? And whatever protection Feisty does provide, unlike keeping a gun in the house, at least I never have to worry about my daughter accidentally shooting herself with the dog.


Comments (40) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
"at least I never have to worry about my daughter accidentally shooting herself with the dog."

Well, hopefully you had him neutered, anyway.

(100% agree with your point, though. Dogs also can't be taken from you and turned on you in the middle of a robbery, etc.)
Posted by Cow on December 31, 2012 at 6:12 AM · Report this
(okay, okay, upon re-read I misgendered the dog and therefore that whole thing fails. too early in the bloody morning)
Posted by Cow on December 31, 2012 at 6:14 AM · Report this
3 Comment Pulled
Dogs? I believe the second amendment is clear about using bear arms.
Posted by mubhappy on December 31, 2012 at 6:40 AM · Report this
wingedkat 5
I'm with you Goldy. I don't know if dogs really provide much in the way of protection, but it certainly feels like they do.

I know I'll miss the sense of security my german shepherd gives me once I no longer have 80lbs of tooth and fur keeping my feet warm. I'll miss her sweet personality and companionship more... but that sense of security may be what makes me finally decide a new dog is worth the trouble.
Posted by wingedkat on December 31, 2012 at 7:05 AM · Report this
Yeah, but you get to pick up the poops. Some people need protection but most of us don't. There, issue solved.
Posted by anon1256 on December 31, 2012 at 7:19 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 7
"at least I never have to worry about my daughter accidentally shooting herself with the dog" That was going to be my one comment. See every "But They're Such Nice Dogs" post before choosing a breed that's too fiesty.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on December 31, 2012 at 7:21 AM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 8
Dogs can also do interesting things to your homeowners/renters insurance. Sometimes lowering it (theft deterrence), sometimes raising it (They're such nice dogs and so good with children/visitors/neighbor's/drywall/flooring/etc...)

Anyone remember that show 'To Catch a Thief' from a couple years back? The one that was basically "Allstate gets ex-burglars to break into people's houses while they watch on cameras and see how vulnerable all their precious stuff is, freak out, and put in a major security system?" I loved that show. But the two lessons learned were: dogs generally don't give a shit, and that pretty much no matter what you do a thief's getting in in like 10 seconds so why bother.
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on December 31, 2012 at 7:32 AM · Report this
Dogs kill and maul children and babies.
Posted by GRRRRRRRRrr..... on December 31, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 10
I envy you. I can't have a dog. I get too attached and grieve for years when they die. And don't tell Charles. He hates barky dogs.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on December 31, 2012 at 7:56 AM · Report this
Dogs are much less controllable than guns.

If everyone who owns a gun got a guard dog instead there would be more innocent people (including The Children!) hurt and killed than are killed by gun accidents.

When men like Goldy get fearsome dogs they are compensating.

The poor schmucks Porsche, as it were....
Posted by Bad Dog! Shame! Shame! on December 31, 2012 at 8:10 AM · Report this
I was really hoping we'd get a picture of her in that baby sling. It sounds almost unbearably cute.
Posted by spoons on December 31, 2012 at 8:11 AM · Report this
@8 I saw that episode too! But like Goldy said, most crimes are crimes of opportunity, and when presented with a house with a barking dog and a house without one, burglars (even professional ones) will go for the house without the barking dog.

Also, because I'm a jerk, I feel the need to point out that Goldy's excuse for his dog's aggression is the same one used by every pit bull owner who's dog mauls some poor kid to death. Apparently the irony of posting about how much you love your Big Angry Dog and how he'd never hurt your children, on a blog that routinely posts news stories about Big Angry Dogs doing exactly that, is lost on Goldy.
Posted by Brandon J. on December 31, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 14
A dog in the home is a thousand times more likely to bark at a member of your own family than a burglar.
Posted by MacCrocodile on December 31, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
seatackled 15
Goldy doesn't say anything about teaching his daughter how to handle and store a dog properly.
Posted by seatackled on December 31, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Foghorn Leghorn 16
Well "Never leave your dog loaded with one in the chamber" is just good dog-parenting advice.
Posted by Foghorn Leghorn on December 31, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Jaymz 17
@15 - but I suspect Feisty IS licensed......
Posted by Jaymz on December 31, 2012 at 8:57 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 18
@15 - I have an uncle whose dog went off while he was cleaning it. Fortunately, he survived, but there was soapy water everywhere, a grim reminder of the dangers of owning a dog.
Posted by MacCrocodile on December 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
seatackled 19
But is the dog licensed for open frolic? Those nuts at that dog show in Bellingham didn't sound like they were too concerned, but it's different when you're on the bus or in a park and the general public is around.
Posted by seatackled on December 31, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Goldy 20
@13 Yes, you are a jerk. I never said Feisty was aggressive. I said she is intimidating. She's actually very sweet. She'd just prefer that you stay the fuck away from her house, and that includes the sidewalks on either side of the street in front of it, goddammit!

(And... I don't necessarily share Dan's pitbull jihad. I've known some very nice pitbulls.)
Posted by Goldy on December 31, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 21
@ 5, it isn't just a feeling. Dogs are proven deterrents to home burglaries and muggings.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 31, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
TVDinner 22
I'm pretty sure that in the event of a home invasion, my two cats will rub up against the legs of the thief and shed deadly amounts of fur on his pant leg.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on December 31, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Bauhaus I 23
I hear tell that it isn't uncommon for dogs who've had to adopt a pound mentality to get very protective when they finally find a loving home. Adorable dog, Goldy. I bet she's great company.
Posted by Bauhaus I on December 31, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
mr. herriman 24
I never ever thought my dogs had it in them to get fierce in the right situation. Big friendly dopes, both of them. Then we moved to a house with a mail slot and I saw a fanatically protective side to them (especially one) when they felt their territory was being infringed upon. They were totally fine, just stared out the window at the carrier, right up to the moment that the mail was coming through the slot, and at that moment they'd come completely unhinged and insanely aggressive. They refused to let him/her mark territory here. Luckily they couldn't fit their muzzles through the slot or they'd have been snapping fingers off.

Not saying the mail carrier is the appropriate situation for them to get fierce - not at all. (Even though it makes perfect sense to me and probably to the mail carriers too). But their reaction in that situation gives me hope that they would bring it in an actually dangerous situation. I never thought they would before, but now I do.

And yes, I got a mailbox. Nobody uses the slot any more, and everyone is much happier :)
Posted by mr. herriman on December 31, 2012 at 10:01 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 25
Yeah, dogs are good deterrents. A burglar making a random break in will skip a house with a dog if another house without a dog is next door. Less hassle. However, if a burglar is determined to rob a specific house, the presence of a dog is mostly irrelevant.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on December 31, 2012 at 10:54 AM · Report this
"and that includes the sidewalks on either side of the street in front of it, goddammit!"

That's my problem as a homeowner. I feel entitled to walk down my street without being barked at, as I pay property taxes and a dog doesn't.
Posted by Fine the inconsiderate - Seattle's Ultimate Budget Cure on December 31, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
I'm a former guest of a few states and someone who has spend more than enough time in lockup (Hackensack Annex, Rykers Island, etc). I can attest that a dog is the best preventitive defense against a break-in by a stranger that nearly anyone can easily have. It is talked about amongst career B&E pros who seem to hang out together when in jail. Lots of very funny stories if you can get past the whole scumbag felon thing. House with a dog=House that doesn't get robbed (not perfect, but awfully good). My own experience bears this out as my family dog died this summer and our house was broken into the next week. By a 8 year old neighbor kid whose family is about as poor as pig shit. He and his sister stole a piggy bank that was full of Thai coins. Must have sucked opening that piggy bank.
Posted by troutbum on December 31, 2012 at 11:00 AM · Report this
imbecile 28
If a potential burglar offers my dog a slice of Swiss cheese, she'll open the door and help carry out my stuff. For another slice, she'll give him my car keys. But no squirrell will ever get near me. Now that's protection.
Posted by imbecile on December 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM · Report this
Goldy 29
@28 I've no idea what Feisty would actually do should somebody break in to my house. Hide? Bark? Attack? I don't know. But then, neither does the burglar.
Posted by Goldy on December 31, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 30
You know that old joke: You can get more with a kind word, a gun and a warm dog than with a kind word and a warm dog.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on December 31, 2012 at 12:24 PM · Report this
Noadi 31
When I moved into my first apartment on my own, no roommates, I had to leave my dog with my parents for the first couple weeks while I got everything unpacked and settled. The sense of relief and security when she finally joined me was much more intense than I had thought. I didn't realize just how much safer having my girl around would make me feel, she's a coonhound and even close to 12 years old she could scare off all but the most determined. She doesn't bark, she bays. I'd take her over a gun for protection, any day.
Posted by Noadi on December 31, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
aureolaborealis 32
@30: You mean like at the bank?
Posted by aureolaborealis on December 31, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Best comments section ever. Way to finish strong sloggers!
Posted by DanFan503 on December 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM · Report this
seandr 34
@13:'s aggression is the same one used by every pit bull owner who's dog mauls some poor kid to death

There's a huge difference between a dog acting territorial and a dog mauling someone to death, one of them being that pretty much every healthy dog will exhibit some sort of territorial "aggression".

During a period of time when our neighborhood was experiencing a lot of burglaries while people were home sleeping, our dog barked a would-be burglar off of our property early one morning. Way better than a gun.

Posted by seandr on December 31, 2012 at 4:28 PM · Report this
julie russell 35
Is she a Canaan Dog? Looks like one...very cute!
Posted by julie russell http:// on December 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM · Report this
Goldy 36
@35 Her mother is your run of the mill lab/shepherd mix. Don't know who the father is, but we like to say he was a dingo. But Canaan dog would be a good guess too.

The truth is, the more you mix breeds together, the more they look like these generic proto-dog breeds.
Posted by Goldy on December 31, 2012 at 6:16 PM · Report this
My dog is 70 lb. and sounds about twice as big. She was starved and left tied to a tree before we got her, but she integrated into our family instantly as a total cuddle bug. Now that she has a nice home, I think she figures anyone outside our family might be a threat to that, on top of which she is a flock protector breed. She would like very much like to eat the mailman, the neighbours, etc. (and yes, we're working on her behaviour). It's true, you get them for the love of a dog, but the added security is pretty nice. And frankly as a woman walking outside after dark it's a definite bonus having a big dog. Basically dogs are awesome, is all I'm saying.
Posted by teamcanada'sforgottenpassword on December 31, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this
I agree about the dog as better protection than a gun.

when I lived in a good neighborhood much too close to a bad neighborhood, we had potential burglars and attempted break-ins about every other month during the warm months. And this is Los Angeles, with plenty of warm months.

Not so for a neighbor several houses over, who'd lived there for ten years -- not even one attempted break-in -- because her next-door neighbor had a little yappy dog.

On the other hand, the night a 6'5" burglar broke into my place, my cat woke me up and probably saved my life.

However, if the cat had been yappy, we might not have entertained Mr. Bandana Mask in the first place.
Posted by judybrowni on December 31, 2012 at 8:24 PM · Report this
julie russell 39
More mix generally means fewer health problems too! Yay!!Very cute dog!

My dogs would invite a burglar in and give em a tour...then beg for treats.

Only one gets protective(BC she lived with traveling street kids before us and, I suspect, used to keep watch over them while they slept) and only in certain situations. She loves people unless they are intoxicated...if we pass a drugged out person while diving she barks and gets really riled up.
Posted by julie russell http:// on January 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this

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Posted by J. R. in WV on January 3, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this

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