Dear Isaac, Please do not ride the dog
Case in point: today’s “Dear Abby” column, in which a reader relates how a 9-year-old visitor to his home climbed aboard his Labrador retriever, possibly causing her permanent injuries.
“Isaac,” the visiting child, who apparently had little experience with canines, was playing with Layla, the retriever, when the homeowner heard him say, “Look, I’m riding your dog!”
“I immediately intervened, but I was too late,” the letter writer said. “A day or so later, Layla was unable to descend our stairway and was clearly in pain. She has been on pain medication for three weeks and is growing progressively worse. The next step is to get X-rays and/or an MRI to see if she has a spinal injury, and then determine her treatment. It’s possible the damage is irreversible.”
The letter writer wasn’t seeking veterinary advice, but wondering how to tell Isaac and his parents about the harm he caused, and keep him from doing it again, without placing “undue guilt on a 9-year-old boy.”
Abby responded to “Heartbroken in New York” this way:
“Children are not mind-readers. If you don’t tell them when they make a mistake, they won’t realize they have made one. Contact Isaac’s parents and explain what happened. If your dog needs treatment, they should be responsible for whatever damage their son did.”
I — though nobody asked — would add only two things to that. First, that any guilt Isaac might feel on learning what he had done isn’t exactly “undue.” Second, that when your dog is meeting someone new — especially a child — you should be in the room, watching and, if necessary, teaching. It’s very easy for a dog owner to assume everyone knows how to behave around dogs, but it’s also very wrong.
Riding a dog, no matter how big he or she is, no matter what the Internet might tell you — and the photo above is just one example of some incredibly irresponsible online “expertise” — should simply never be done. Period.
(Photo: Taken from wikiHow.com’s article on “how to ride a dog”)
(Postscript: The day after this article appeared on ohmidog!, the wikiHow article on “how to ride a dog” was taken down.)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby, advice, animal welfare, breeds, children, dear abby, dog, dogs, expertise, health, heartbroken, injuries, injury, internet, irresponsible, kids, kids and dogs, labrador retriever, layla, meeting, new, responsible, ride, riding, riding dogs, rode, safety, wikihow