A man and his German shepherd were alone in the dog park one early morning when another man with three dogs appeared. The three were overly aroused and snarking at each other in the airlock. As soon as the group entered the park, the shepherd ran up to them. The largest of the three, a malinois, immediately attacked the shepherd. It was noisy. It was horrific. It was terrible to see. Fortunately, the shepherd’s owner had the wisdom to pull the attacker away, rather than grabbing his own dog. The malinois’ owner then restrained his dog by the handle on the dog’s body harness. I shouted at the shepherd’s owner to grab his dog as well. Instead, he called his dog to him. The shepherd did not listen, and began walking back toward the malinois. Once again, I urged the man to get his dog on a leash. Instead, he called the shepherd to him. Again, the dog did not listen and this time, he approached the malinois, who pulled free of his owner and once again attacked the shepherd. This time the malinois’ two housemate dogs joined in. Now there were three dogs attacking the poor shepherd, who is not a dog that fights back.
Between the two men, they got the dogs separated and away from each other, although both parties remained in the park. The shepherd was limping badly, not able to put any weight at all on one of his back legs. Since my dogs and I were in the empty, enclosed small dog side of the park, I left my dogs to walk over and see if I could help. By this time the shepherd was on the ground, lying on his side. A few people I normally encounter during weekday morning walks were passing by. I stopped them and asked the owner of a Lab if he could stand by in case the shepherd needed to be carried back to his car. Instead, the Lab owner walked into the park to inspect the shepherd himself. While he was examining the dog, I told the shepherd’s owner the dog should be taken to a vet. But the Lab owner stood up and pronounced, “He’s fine. He doesn’t need to be taken in.” Good thing this man’s a veterinarian. Oh wait, he’s not. (He is, however, the same man who once, upon hearing that my dogs were on leash in a high-brush, rattlesnake-infested area because I was concerned about rattlesnakes, said, “You worry too much.” Yep, that’s me.) The shepherd was finally standing again and as he left, his owner called to the man with the three dogs that he’d see him the next day. These men are normally both in the dog park on the weekends at the same time, and although this is the second time their dogs have fought, they planned to allow them back together again the very next day. What could go wrong?
Have I mentioned that this same malinois has attacked at least four other dogs that I know of? It’s true that he does get along with many dogs, but then…well, there are some he just doesn’t. Interestingly, I was chatting recently with the woman who cuts my hair when something about this man and his dogs came up. She said, “Oh, I know him! His malinois attacked my puppy!” According to her, this very same dog had attacked her six-month-old labradoodle to the point that the mal had the pup’s entire head in his mouth. When it happened, she said, the man had sauntered over and in a baby voice said, “Oh look, he’s playing with the puppy.” Seriously.
You might be wondering if I’m going to say malinois are the most dangerous breed. I’m not. They’re certainly serious, driven dogs, but they are not the most dangerous. Nor are German shepherds. The most dangerous breed is, hands down, the Irresponsible Owner. If you run into one, you can certainly attempt to reason with them, and I give you kudos for trying. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. This particularly breed is unlikely to be swayed by logic or even experience. Often seen allowing their dogs to participate in unsafe activities, members of this breed may also appear to have gone completely deaf and blind in instances where their dogs are bullying others. They’re also the ones yelling, “He’s friendly!” after you shout to please call the dog, who is off-leash and making a beeline for your own dogs. In a perfect world, members of this breed would walk around wearing shirts that say, “Don’t worry, it will all be fine!” so they could be instantly identified. If you encounter this dangerous breed, beware! The best course of action is to avoid, avoid, avoid, and do whatever you need to in order to keep your own dogs safe.
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