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Small Dog Courage

I don’t remember why the door was ajar. I was on the telephone; otherwise I don’t remember why I wasn’t paying attention.

Suddenly Val, our 10 lb. Silky, slid out of that tiny ajar space like an eel and bulleted down the front walk, screaming at the top of his lungs.

“GET OUT OF HERE!!! GO AWAY!!” he screamed, and even louder, “I WILL GET YOU!!!”

The phone fell by the wayside as I pelted down the front walk after Val. I glanced up and saw a man was walking his 150 lb. long-haired Shepherd past our house.

“I HATE YOU!!! YOU ARE DEAD!!!!!” screamed Val and lunged for the Shepherd’s throat, garnering a mouthful of hair.

In that one second of surprised “what the hell” reaction from the big dog I was able to scoop up the miniature warrior, apologize profusely to the stunned owner and cart off my squirming and still screaming dog.

Some stories of small dog valor did not turn out so well. Val’s brother Charlie was sold to a lady in Bradenton. She called me one morning, hysterical. Charlie had been in the backyard while his owner took a shower.

When he didn’t come when called, she went outside to find him in death throes, having been bitten by what it turned out to be a 10 foot rattle snake. He was bitten on the neck, which means that he was attacking the snake.

Now let’s put this in perspective, shall we? Charlie was 10 lbs., so at best a 10th the size of a human. Let’s 10 times that rattler to 100 feet. Now, I dare you to attack a 100 foot long serpent. With your teeth.

See what I mean? I think that small dogs, pound for pound, are the bravest creatures I have ever known.

While this can sound neat, and I for one would not have it any other way, it takes some knowledge and responsibility to be able to successfully live with your pocket Marine. Here are some bullet points:

• Respect your dog’s space. When the new baby or the neighbor’s toddler is driving your dog nuts, put her up in her crate. If she can’t spend all day in her crate away from the new baby, make sure she has a way to get away from the source of her torture.

• Teach children that the dog is not a toy, and has limits to her tolerance.

• Never ever walk a small dog off lead.

• Obedience training teaches your miniature warrior that even though you are the world’s biggest marshmallow, you carry the treats.

• Trying to attack another dog or god forbid acting aggressively toward a human is never to be tolerated. It is not cute or sweet, I don’t care how small your dog is! Nip this behavior in the bud by immediate separation and distraction.

I have posted about teaching your dog a trick as a distractive behavior; see Tricks as Distraction. This is where you have her do her High Five, Twirl on a Table, or Jump Through My Arms.

My dogs are joyful and so refreshing; they know exactly what they want. But I never forget that their huge heart and immense courage can be not only their salvation but also their downfall.

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