Along for the ride:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Showing my Teeth

The following letter was written as a result of both myself and a sub-contractor, whom I had introduced, being chomped by one of my client's three standard poodles. This happened on separate visits to her house, in her presence.
My reaction, in the moment, to grab the dog, push it down on the ground and rap it's head with my knuckles, whilst yelling loudly, caused anxious fluttering and concern on the part of the owner, regarding her dog's well-being.
This all happened a few years ago, but I just came across her client file and the memories came flooding back.

Dear Lorraine,

I want to begin by saying how much I like you and have enjoyed being included in personalizing your new home. However, the dog situation cannot be left without comment. If you were dealing with normal, litigious Californians, your dog would currently be impounded and awaiting a hearing.

I imagine you do not fully realize that, in both Don's and my case, the skin was broken. I have 3 distinct tooth marks and a scrape. I feel lucky that I was bitten at the top of my leg where my pocket-lining awarded me additional protection. I am enclosing a photo of Donny's bite which shows teeth marks and bruising, through jeans, no less!

It is not acceptable that you are doing nothing to control or train your dogs and are so in denial about your "sweet puppies" that you inflict them on the unsuspecting people around you. You are the owner of an aggressive dog. Do something about it!

All is not lost. I sincerely hope that you move forward with the help of a trainer and teach your dogs some manners, before a really bad incident occurs.

Best of luck.


  1. Is this a letter that you intend to mail? I hope it is the catalyst for change that obviously is necessary. The dog is a beauty with a bite that goes skin deep!

    Our Standard Poodle has never showed such aggression, but if she had I would have addressed it immediately. Standard Poodles have such large and pointy teeth...they could (and did, in your case) do much damage.

  2. Do you think they ever did anything about it ? Did you continue doing any more work there ? People should have to prove they can train a dog before being allowed to keep one. Too many awful stories in the press.

    PS If the Pliers is still in your neck of the woods, please say "Hi" for me, and please ask her frencher half to take a look at the stone quarry site I posted about just a couple of days ago, with sculptures from WWI.

  3. Unbelievable. Not one, but two people? That woman is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
    I feel sorry for the dogs -- how are they going to learn what's acceptable if their human doesn't make it clear? Maybe they're beyond help, but she could at least try!

  4. Lydia, I mailed it and heard nothing back from her, until six months later, when she needed something again.

    Owen, The dogs were insecure and lacking leadership. I wanted to put her face to face with the truth about their situation. In California, unfortunately, pointing out potential legal liability is the way to get someone's attention.

    Merry, If she had faced the problem and shut the dogs away when people were expected, it would have been a non-issue. I'm sure we weren't the first victims.

  5. The thing is, as you are more than aware, it's not that they are bad dogs. They have a bad owner. Rather like obnoxious or unruly children, look to the parents for the cause. Dogs simply want to please you, but without training and direction, how are they to know what is appropriate?
    I agree with Owen, you should have to prove you can handle a dog before you are allowed to have one.
    I hope you are continually on the mend.
    Bisouxxx, Kitty

  6. To the point, poised and balanced... not sure I could manage to be so even-keeled about it but blowing up at people rarely gets the desired result.

  7. I can only imagine the look of aghastment on the face of the poodle lady when you reprimanded fluffy! There is never an excuse for a viscious dog in my opinion, and the thing that makes me most mad about it is that it is so easy to never let it happen in the first place! fair play to you! also, after catching up with your world here, sorry to here about the apendix thingy and hope you get well back to full force soon. and fingers crossed, your new foster dog finds a perfect home soon. She is beautiful!

  8. If it had happened up here, the dog would have been given therapy for the stress and you would have been accused of violating the dog's rights.
    I vote for 3 strikes and you're out (the owner that is).

  9. Oh my. She was lucky that no one pressed charges. Wonder if her luck has held out since.

    I doubt your letter left much of an impression, as good as it was. People like that never really see the truth clearly.

    At one of my boarding stables, the manager had some Jack Russells that were very territorial. One of them bit my vet's assistant. My vet was furious, demanding the rabies certificate and threatening to get payment for any required medical treatment.

    The manager??? Well, she liked that the dogs were protective. And, of course, the vet assistant must have done something to make the dog bite her.

    I used to fend the little monsters off every time I arrived, so they kind of got used to knowing I wasn't a good target.

    Owners like that are clueless. *sigh*

    Hope you are on the fast road to recovery after your surgery. Feel better.

  10. So what happened, what did she do?

  11. Giles is still a kitten really and tends to get over excited - so if we have visitors we always warn them that he's ok to stroke, but if he starts getting active, ie chasing arms, fold them away - he doesn't bite as hard as this dog would have, barely any force at all (he thinks he's playing) - so if you know any tricks to help us teach him how to stop entirely please pass them on

  12. ER, I love your straightforwardness. Schlack!!!! right to the point without tiptoeing around. You're a woman among women, which is a completely stupid thing to say except that I wish more of us were like you.

  13. Pixies....I've heard that if you make a sound like a distressed kitten when Giles bites you that he will stop, thinking he has hurt you. Hard to know if it works, but a little mewing might help. Let us know.

  14. This post particularly hits home for me. Not that I have someone with a dog problem but someone with a horse problem they are blaming on me and it is clearly of their own making. Talk about being clueless. I need to deal with them and have been struggling to find the words. Thanks for the inspiration.

  15. Rainbow, if you can dialogue about the best path forward from this point, rather than whose fault and how you/they got to that point, you've won half the battle. Good Luck.

    Jean, would a gift-wrapped muzzle be misinterpreted?

    Deborah, I am honored. There are many occasions when my internal discussions range from "I should hold my peace" to "The Hell I will!" I do write the least embellished version that I can come up with and cushion with some kindness (even when exasperated).

  16. Legend, she's lucky I didn't have my tape measure in hand to clunk her dog with.

    Watercats, In hindsight, it must have looked pretty funny.

    Steve, business survival is a great incentive to tone it down. That, and I have maybe had more practice than most dealing with "ass-hole situations" I never send such a missive immediately. A night of reflection is always wise.

  17. Friko, she wasn't classy enough to call me up to discuss, and our work for her was essentially done. Months later, when she needed a service only we could provide, she called. At that time she did say I was right to say what I did and that she was working on it with a trainer.

    Pixie, I like Jean's mewing idea, even if it doesn't work, it could be a new ice breaker at parties:) A tin can full of pennies shaken at just the right moment might be a solution.

    Kitty, if wishes were horses...

  18. When an acquaintance's Rottweiler pushed her toddler backwards through a plate glass window , "It just wanted to play" .
    I made sure it never had a play date with my children .
    And no , I don't blame the dog ....