The Yellow Dog Project
While everyone wants to think that their dog is the greatest creation to come out of the cosmic laboratory (and I am not saying that yours isn't), simply put, some dogs are not good around strangers. Whether their bugaboo be children, other dogs, or strange faces in general, there are a handful of otherwise lovely dogs that, under the right -- or wrong -- circumstances, can become downright frightening. RELATED STORY:
How We Misunderstand Dog AggressionWhether the root cause is a lack of socialization (as is the mainly the case), a breed-specific disposition, or damaging past experience, being the parent to a snappy dog can be a tremendous burden. Luckily, there is a movement in place to help better identify these troubled dogs - The Yellow Dog Project
. Many people make the argument that every dog has the potential to be safe and social. However, for some families it is safer to simply identify that your dog has issues, work on them in your own time, and do what you can to let strangers know they should steer clear during the interim. And I come from a place of understanding, because a few years ago, I was a part of one such family.RELATED STORY: How to Stop Dog Aggression
When I was 13-years-old, my father finally decided to get our family my most sought-after addition: a dog. However, this story does not have a storybook ending. Heck, it doesn't even begin like one.From the first time I met Finbar, it was all bared teeth and flat-back ears. In his defense, these were clearly signs of fear and not outright aggression, and while I was curious about the root of this fear (we always thought he had a cruel owner before we got him), that did not stop me from shaking in my boots the second I saw those chompers.RELATED STORY: Reading Dog Body LanguageAfter a few days of cohabitation, Finbar stopped seeing me as a threat and the two of us became fast friends -- playing in the yard, teaching him tricks, and watching TV with his head in my lap. However, despite how well he got along with all of us, anytime a new face was introduced -- human and dog alike -- Finbar would lose it. And what made it worse is that he wouldn't snarl or give any indication that he was afraid -- just sit like everything was fine, but when your hand got too close...WHAM!It became exceedingly difficult to have people over, and even simple tasks like a walk around the block became an ordeal. “What if someone tries to pet him and I don’t react in time? What if he snaps at another dog and ends up getting into a scuffle?” Finbar was a danger to others, as well as himself. And despite all the behavior training we went through, nothing seemed to help.RELATED STORY: The Cause of Aggression in Dogs
THE INCIDENTEverything came to a head at one of my sister’s soccer games. We were sitting on the sidelines watching her play when tragedy struck. The mother of one of the other girls came over to pet Finbar, which ended up causing her a trip to the ER and a handful of stitches. She reached her hand down and before any of us could react, Finbar had lunged and sunk his teeth into the back of her hand.RELATED STORY: What You Can Do About Your Dog's AnxietyAfter that, we decided we were unable to keep Finbar and also feel safe. So we found a couple with a nice little farmette in upstate New York to take care of him; that’s right -- he actually went to a farm upstate.Now, had The Yellow Dog Project been in existence then, and had more people been aware of it, we could have popped a yellow bow on Finbar's leash. It's possible some people on the street might have known to avoid him. Maybe Mrs. Church would have never needed to seek immediate medical attention on that fateful day. Furthermore, had we been able to properly ID Finbar as an antisocial dog, who knows how long we may have been able to hear the pitter-patter of his paws running up and down the stairs?So, for Finbar’s sake, if you know someone with an antisocial, infirm, or elderly dog that does not play well with others, let them know about The Yellow Dog Project
and help us prevent another pee-wee soccer incident from occurring.PetPlus is a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.