First published as a gracious guest blog on Naked Girl in a Dress
Newspapers are bursting with stories about children being bullied; but rarely is the phenomenon of Dog Bullying broached in polite company. It’s possible this is because when I hang outside polite parties with my ear pressed against polite windows I’m mishearing polite things, but I think polite people (my friends) just don’t discuss it.
My dog is a frequent victim of bullying. While my husband and I take pains before walks to be sure his kerchief is tied at a perfectly jaunty angle, other dogs repeatedly approach him in an aggressive manner. My mother-in-law’s mutt so intimidated our beautiful boy that he became one with the furniture, slinking around the room in the shadow of Lazy-Boys, terrified that mangy shelter-trash might notice him. We practically had to BEG him to come out from under the bed for his evening massage.
We whisked our baby away from that hostile atmosphere, only to have him double-teamed by a brother-sister terror squad during an otherwise peaceful beach walk. Jealous of his charm and poise, they menacingly circled our boy, forcing me to go Crouching Mommy Hidden Dragon on their furry asses until their cigar chomping owner finally put them back on their Hell Hound restraints.
Following the attack, my sweet puppy, Lord Underfoot, stared at me from behind one perfect curl flopping attractively over his left eye.
“Why?” said that beautiful, terrified gaze. “Why, Mommy, do they taunt me so?”
I’ve given that question a lot of thought and tried to learn from our mistakes. Attire is one area where I feel we’ve erred. We know now never let our dog wear a retractable key chain on his collar. It makes it much too tempting for other dogs to pull on the keys and snap them back into a dog’s face. Just hide the house key for him in one of those plastic rocks.
If you have a boy dog, it is important in the dog world for him to appear manly. If your dog smokes, insist they pinch the cigarette between the thumb toe and index toe and flick with the thumb toe, in a casual James-Deany style. Do not let them smoke 100s. If at a bar, never let your dog order ‘tinis. Particularly, apple ‘tinis.
Bandanas are cool. Cravats are not. White collars must not be worn after Labor Day. It’s an old rule, but still stands true, particularly in the South.
If your dog has friends over, always let him do the barbecuing. If you live in the Southeastern United States, never name your dog “Sherman.”
Never let your dogs say “I laughed, I cried it was better than Cats!” about anything.
If you have a female dog, during play, ensure she doesn’t accidentally pull out another dog’s weave. Next thing you know, the dog park will look like a herd of Tribbles.
Never let your dog admit they know what a Tribble is. Never let your dog argue that “Star Wars” was better than “The Empire Strikes Back.” Don’t let your dog hang M.C. Escher posters in his room after the age of three.
Some behaviors encourage trouble. When threatened, be sure your dog doesn’t assume the “Crane” pose, as all dogs have seen The Karate Kid and will not be fooled. Never let your dog pretend he is tough by picking on very small dogs, like Chihuahuas. Any interaction with those ankle sharks will end badly.
Never let your dogs tell Joe Pesci he is “a funny guy.”
In some instances, having your smarter dog take quizzes for the dumber, tougher dogs will endear him to the larger dogs, who will then offer protection. In other cases, the fact that your dog knows what a quiz is, will actually make him a target. Use your discretion.
If your dog is wildly overweight, teach him how to be a defensive linesman for the local football team. Or, if he is a white dog, an offensive linesman. If your dog is overweight, but has no athletic ability, teach him how to do improv comedy.
Teach your dog that other dogs can appreciate “barky,” but nobody likes “snarky,” except poodles, who can be quite sarcastic.
Finally, don’t let your dog be Molly Ringwald’s platonic boy friend. Socially, it is the kiss of death.
While I cannot promise success in every instance, these tips can keep your dog from ending up with his “I love mommy” tee pulled over his head. Though no matter how we try, we can’t seem to break the Svengali-like hold Molly Ringwald has on our pup.
Amy Vansant is a freelance writer, nerd, and shameless Labradoodle mommy. Tweet her @kidfreeliving. Buy the book at Amazon.