There’s an interesting post at E-V.com about the multiple biting stories coming out of the White House lately with some possible observations, and it even references a Beatles song, as I do in this post. News from the White House, Part II: Martha, My Dear
- Many dog owners have a favored breed. The cleverest ones prefer dachshunds, or so we are told. For other people, there are all sorts of considerations in play. The Bidens have been German Shepherd people for a very long time. Unfortunately, a shepherd is just about the worst kind of dog for the White House. Shepherds are hard-wired to dislike chaos and to try to impose order. The White House is nothing but chaos. Very stressful for a shepherd.
- There are dog bites and there are dog bites. Some bites are playful. Some are accidental. Some are purposeful. Unless the bite draws serious blood (and, to be fair, several of Commander’s bites have done so), it can be hard to be sure which kind you’re dealing with. Further, there is much motivation for the dog owner to err on the side of judging a bit to be “playful” or “accidental.” Nobody wants to think they’ve got a problem dog.
- Once it becomes clear there is a problem, then it’s ideally time for some training. Commander has gotten additional training, several times. But once the training is over, there’s no way to know whether or not it worked. You just re-introduce the dog into the problematic situation and hope the problem is solved. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.
- It’s not easy to send a dog away, either to a secondary residence (like the Bidens’ Delaware home) or to a new permanent residence (say, a friend of the Bidens). First, because people who get dogs generally do so because they want the dog around as a friend/companion. Sure, some politicians don’t actually care about their dogs, but the Bidens were dog people long before Joe was in the executive branch and there was political value in having a pet. Second, because getting a dog means making a commitment, and it’s not pleasing to fail to fulfill that commitment.
When referencing a dog bite, I’m reminded of our schnauzer that we got at the end of August in 1968. For some reason my suggestion for a name was accepted, which was possibly a first, and as the Beatles had just released their latest single, you can probably guess what my suggestion was.
Jude was a pretty well behaved dog, as dogs go, but as my second year at Penn State was about to begin, he and I didn’t really get much of a chance to know each other until the following summer vacation. Still, like most of the dogs that lived with us, he got along best with my father, who seemed to have a special rapport with all dogs.
Later on in the 70s my parents bought the hardware store in Richland, sold their home on South Race Street, and moved into the apartment above the store, and of course Jude moved along with them. I eventually went to work for them as well.
One time my mother baked a shoo-fly pie for me to take home, but she made the mistake of leaving it on the kitchen table, and by the time I went upstairs to collect it, Jude had managed to move one of the table chairs, jumped up onto the table, and was happily munching away on my shoo-fly pie. After that my mother remembered to leave anything she baked on the counter, out of the reach of the canine roommate.
Sometimes my mother made lunch for me, and I’d eat it in their apartment while watching TV and playing with Jude. But by this time, circa 1975, Jude was seven years old and didn’t necessarily like puppy games any more, so one time he decided to let me know that he was getting too old for that childish stuff.
And he did it by biting me.
On the hand.
But he did it strategically.
He got his mouth around my fingers and let me feel his teeth, but he didn’t break the skin or draw blood. He simply wanted to let me know where he stood.
And just to let me know that there weren’t any hard feelings, he immediately jumped up on the chair and lay down next to me and let me pet him.
A pretty smart dog.