Musings & Threads. Prejudice.
Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover.
A new lesson from Gus, the rescue dog.
Prejudice comes in many forms…even in the dog world. There are some breeds that are universally feared: Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers. Yet animal trainers will tell you these dogs have a bad reputation only because their bite is very powerful. Their dispositions are usually as gentle and sweet as smaller, less intimidating dogs, but their menacing appearance makes people scurry past them.
Which brings me to my story. If you have read my stories, you know that I recently adopted an adorable Maltese mix named Gus. As Gus has become more comfortable he has become even sweeter. Now he goes up to people with his big brown eyes, smiling expression and sweet disposition. As I walk through town, many people and children ask permission to pet his soft baby fine, white fur and look into those beautiful, big brown eyes. But despite his sweet appearance, he has a fear of big dogs. When he encounters one at close range, he takes an aggressive stance, planting his feet and staring at them while giving a tiny growl, too cute to be menacing to anyone but a member of the animal kingdom.
Last week I took Gus to the farmer’s market and out of the corner of my eye I saw him give this stance to a pit bull mix. The dog, believing his owner to be threatened, immediately charged Gus, growling fiercely and almost knocking his owner down. We both were able to grab our dogs (Gus is only 14 pounds, so it was pretty easy for me) and continue shopping. The observers, on the other hand, were not so forgiving and glared at the pit bull mix. They went to Gus to console him; as they kneeled down, he would put his two front paws on their knees, showing his big brown sweet doe eyes, perk up his small ears that lopped to the side, and give a little snuggling grunt. As they were soothing Gus, I informed them that, indeed, Gus had started the fight. Of course, they found that even more charming and pronounced him to be both brave and cute. Gus just stared up at them blinking his sweet big eyes, begging for their attention, who me?