Dogs bite boys twice as often as they do girls.
Boys play rough.
It’s true. Boys pour salt on slugs, throw rocks at cars, light things on fire and shoot each other with BB guns. Girls? Yeah, they can be mean, bossy and loud, but they aren’t typically roughhousers, and statistically that pays off. Check out the stats at cdc.gov.
Last week I got a call from a distraught mom. Her 3-year-old boy kicked the dog, and the dog bit him on the head.
From a humanistic point of view, that dog shouldn’t live with children. He bites. End of discussion … from that standpoint.
An important question remains, though: Why did the kid kick the dog in the first place?
All children, and especially boys, have to be taught how to handle and care for a dog if they’re going to live in the same house with one — for the dog’s sake and their own.
A mother of 9-year-old and 12-year-old boys e-mailed me a few months ago regarding the family dog, who had been aggressive toward strangers and other dogs but not her kids. In fact, her kids “can pull his ears and tail, take his food, sit on him, etc. with no problems.” She later signed off with, “We love this dog, but know we can’t risk the safety of others.”
Boy, oh, boy … That’s some kind of love.
This week I got an e-mail from another mom, proud of the fact that her dog doesn’t bite. “Charlie is never aggressive, even when my 30-month-old son hits him in the head with the remote control or a plastic golf club.” Not aggressive? Not yet.
Little boys playing rough is part of boys being boys. But when little boys play rough with dogs, there’s a good chance someone’s going to get hurt. The behaviors these women describe go beyond playing rough. It’s animal abuse. And it’s only a matter of time before the family dog — “that’s only been aggressive toward strangers” or “has never been aggressive at all” — turns on his own family.
It’s the parent’s job to keep their kids safe. It’s the parent’s responsibility to know better, to teach the child, to train the dog.
Boys will be boys. They’re curious. They play rough. They wrestle; they tackle; they throw punches. And sometimes, if they never learn better, they grow up to be men who play rough.
All of the players in the Michael Vick dogfighting debacle were boys in men’s bodies who like to play rough. What does a little boy who’s allowed to hit his dog, sit on him and pull his tail and ears become when he grows up? A dog lover? A humanitarian? Or a man with so little respect for life that he would slam a dog’s body to the ground because it didn’t show enough fight?
Five years ago, as Vick read his statement declaring his innocence of all charges against him, his mother, Brenda Boddie, stood by his side. “I would like to say to my mom I’m sorry for what she has had to go through in this most trying of times.” A month later, he changed his tune — and his plea.
For all of Vick’s accomplishments, I doubt his mom is proud. None of those moms are proud. Their sons were convicted of heinous crimes against animals.
Boys will be boys? Only if no one teaches them better.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at www.creators.com, and visit him at www.unclematty.com. Send your questions firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.
Copyright 2012 Creators Syndicate Inc.