Sunday, June 1, 2008

Scary big dogs

My grandmother is afraid of a lot of things. One of them is horses, which is why she never let me go to riding school when I was a kid, even though all my friends go to go. When I moved to a farm a few years ago, she thought I was crazy and constantly worried I would get kicked by a horse.

My grandmother is also scared of big dogs. This weekend, I went to dog sit the above crew (plus two bunnies) while their owners went out of town for a wedding. Sadie the St. Bernard was there, as was Lilly the Newfoundland, Peppi the pug and Lucy the Bernese mountain dog. (If you don't know much about dogs, all three breeds except the pug are huge dogs that can knock you over with the swoosh of a tail, if they wanted to).

I first dog sat this crew a couple of summers ago. When I told my grandmother about the dogs, she was - again - very concerned for my safety. I was, after all, going straight from the dangerous horse farm to these three giant, monstruous dogs.

Now, Sadie, Lucy and Lilly are all extremely well behaved. They do not go outside unless you tell them to. They do not touch their dinners until you give them a signal, and they never ever jump on you (unless, of course, you stretch your arm straight out, pat it and say "give me a hug").

To calm my grandmother down, I had to send her pictures of the three big dogs rolled over on their backs with their bellies in the air. They do it all the time when I brush them, or even when I just look at them, sometimes.

"See?" I told her. "Does this look like a scary dog to you?"
She relaxed a bit, finally realizing I must know what I'm doing.

I just don't understand what is so scary. I mean, I was terrified of dogs when I was 4 after beeing bit by a little dachshund (tax), but after spending time with well-behaved dogs, my love of animals overpowered the fear.

To me, St. Bernards represent safety. Growing up, I always heard of them as rescue dogs from Switzerland, who work as part of a team. And in "Peter Pan," a St. Bernard is there to protect the children at night.

The Newfoundland is just a big, fluffy mess. And the mountain dog, she's as sweet as can be. In fact, she is so annoyed with the other two that she mostly goes off by her self to do her thing, like moping in the driveway or sleeping behind a recliner.

Of course, if you don't train big dogs, they can be a hassle. But these dogs? Piece of cake!


Faith said...

I am glad you convinced your gran that there is nothing to fear, as they all look like lovely dogs. I think any dog can be scary if not trained and socialized properly. Hope you had a nice time petsitting.

Vickan said...

Thanks! And yes, socializing your dog is key. It drives me nuts when I see people with dogs that won't behave - they yell and scream at them and say "he's so terrible," when in fact, you know it's the owner that's the real problem.