I’m Not a Child. I Am a Dog.

In case you haven’t heard, an Alaskan Malamute killed a 6 day old baby in Wales this week. The dad had brought the dog home from the pub several months earlier because someone said they were going to get rid of it.

This news makes me incredibly sad. It also makes me painfully aware that the breed may soon be as demonized as the Pit Bull.

Yes, I am cute, but if I playfully jumped up on you, I could knock you down. I'm that strong.
Yes, I am cute, but if I playfully jumped up on you, I could knock you down. I’m that strong.

But humans also carry some responsibility for this tragedy. What with your fanciful ideas about dogs and such.

So at the risk of upsetting some of my readers, let me state what should be obvious to each of you.


I don’t care how many dresses or bow ties or hats you put on them, dogs are not human children. You can call them your baby and refer to yourself as mommy or daddy, but they are dogs. And as a dog, they will act in ways that dogs do. Clothing does not transform behavior. Only training will do that.

If you’re going to live with dogs, you should at least learn about dog behavior and interactions. Cute little puppies grow into big, strong dogs. They chew things. They dig holes. They hump pillows. You need to know why they do these things, and what can be done to stop that type of behavior. You also need to understand pack behavior.

Young children should NEVER be left alone with a dog. I don’t care how wonderful your dog is, there is the potential for a child to be hurt. Children that cannot defend themselves can be seriously hurt by even a little dog who thinks it is playing. And children who have not yet learned how to interact with dogs can unwittingly bring on a bite.

If you don’t know a dog, then introductions are in order. This is especially true if you’re on the dog’s territory. Allow the dog to sniff you. Don’t smile or make eye contact with a dog who is upset or barking at you. Let the wagging tail give you the all clear signal.

When we lived in Tennessee, I took Rumpy to the dog park one morning. Only one other dog was there- a rottweiler. They played together for a while, then a man came up with his small dog and young child. And what did that idiot do? He led the little dog into the big dog area and allowed the child to walk in with food in her hand, even though it was clearly posted that young children were not allowed in the park. That could have ended in tragedy, but fortunately the only thing injured was a toaster pastry.

I don’t care how well you think your dog behaves, he or she should not be roaming the neighborhood off-leash. Again, people who don’t know how to interact with dogs could cause your dog to act in a way he or she never would around you. Oh, and if the law says the dog must be on a leash, put the dog on a leash!

It’s time to stop demonizing Animal Control Services. I know, no one wants a dog or cat to die, but let’s face it, millions do. Animals should not be pawned off on another or brought home because you’re afraid of what will happen to them if they’re surrendered, especially if you know nothing about the breed.

Cute? Yes. But don’t EVER bring a dog home just because its cute, unless you plan on doing your homework.

Dogs are wonderful creatures that bring untold joy into the lives of humans. But dogs require responsible behavior from humans. So don’t let your dog’s normal actions lead to tragedy for another. Because it will be your dog that pays. And you may, as well.

88 thoughts on “I’m Not a Child. I Am a Dog.

      1. I would say irresponsible humans are much more to blame. We create the environment they are in completely, and they don’t really know the rules. Pitbulls in particular were historically very, very nice dogs… great with humans and known as “the nanny dog” because they were so good with children. Since then they have been largely demonized, which resulted in people who don’t know how to deal with strong breeds adopting them (because they are “badass”)…

  1. This is sad news… I agree with you dear Rumpy, you all said right. Thank you, give a big hugs and kiss to your dear owner, I love her too 🙂 Have a nice weekend, love, nia

  2. I don’t blame the dog, I blame the owners and you are absolutely right that all dogs should not be trusted 100%.

    German Shepards, Collies, Yorkies, whatever the breed they WILL defend themselves and they WILL bite if threatened. Just like us cats will scratch and bite if you don’t leave us alone when we want to be alone!

    I’m sorry some people are stupid Rumpy!

  3. Well said Rumpy. Totally agree. I posted about this case yesterday. It worries me how quickly the UK media jumped all over it, the Metro and the Sun newspapers printed particularly sensational pieces. And there has already been some debate on the radio over whether malamutes are dangerous.
    At the end of the day you’re right, it’s about responsible dog ownership. My peeps might act like I’m their baby at times but they watch me like a hawk around kids, especially if they have food. They would certainly never leave me alone with one. Hope everyone reads your post and takes this on board.

    1. Well, it was a baby that died. Of course they jumped all over it. What is most tragic is this guy thought he was doing a good deed, and look how it ended up. I am guilty of bringing a dog home because I wanted to help. And that’s how DeDe because the most expensive “free” dog ever.

    1. I am more fearful of people who are dog people who have no clue about how Rumpy acts than I am people who are not dog people. At least non-dog people have enough sense to stay back.

  4. Tragic story and yet people will never learn….yes I make out my dogs talk..yes I give them imaginary stories and tales,but bottom line is I respect that they are from wolves and as such are dogs…I have never left any of my dogs alone with a child..not because I don’t love them and yes I trust them as much as you can with an animal ..yes a pet yes a family member but a canine one..my heart is so sad for the family and also the way animals and children pay the ultimate price. I hope this breed is not labelled..as any dog ..big or small can harm a person or child given the right or wrong circumstances..hugs to you Rumpy and respect to you as a canine ..Fozziemum

  5. Rumpy, you are so right. I’m heartbroken for the baby and the family, but I would never leave any animal, cats included, with a child. Animals and children can both behave in unpredictable ways, I’ve seen a placed Labrador driven almost insane by a newborn baby’s high pitched crying, not in a vicious way, we think she was desperately worried as she had never heard anything like it before.

  6. Rumpy, you are SO right. People think it’s cute when a baby or child constantly annoys a dog, takes its toys, pulls his tail or ears, etc. They post pictures or send videos to America’s Funniest Videos. And the followers that some people are, they try to have their children do the same things.

    Were people born stupid or did they acquire it along the way and think they’re smart? (Rhetorical)

    They blame the dog for being a dog and exonerate themselves for any wrong doing. Some people should not be allowed to have a dog or a baby.

    1. Yeah, that crap really ticks me off. And it also ticks me off that media types promote that kind of crap. I am on a crusade to comment when I see those videos on YouTube or photos on Pinterest, and I feel more of us should do the same.

  7. What you mentioned on today’s post is all very true. I can’t agree more. Dogs are lovely animals but human should be responsible to keep an eye on him/her. Both humans and dogs need rules if we live together. You’re not dangerous breed at all, Rumpy.

  8. Yes, people should be required to take responsibility for their pets, and that includes recognizing traits about their breed and specific personality!

    In Pittsburgh, a Husky killed a newborn baby–and a woman left her four large young dogs alone in a room with the newborn–but behaviorists investigated and ruled the Husky had no idea the baby was not a toy and actually bit the baby and shook it in play. The dog lived and the woman was punished, but only because individuals stepped in: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2012/04/27/No-euthanization-for-husky-that-killed-McKeesport-child/stories/201204270201

    1. And how could someone think that’s a good idea? And yet, anyone who’s read A Moveable Feast knows Hemingway and his wife left their baby at home in the care of a cat while they went out drinking.

    1. I think they meant well, but people truly don’t know. And when advertisers and bloggers make dogs out to be this mythical creature that makes our lives complete, then they do dogs no favors. We are animals. Granted, we are domesticated, but we are still dogs.

      1. I don’t have dogs but it applies to anyone who has pets.
        As well as I trained my turtles to be able to differentiate between fingers and food, I still keep my little nephews/nieces’ fingers away from my turtles. It really annoyed me when people decide to have a pet but don’t do proper research on the pet

    1. Thanks Easy. Our Angel Dog Sage, the Weimariner, once pulled Jen down when a neighbor walked up with her unleashed dog. Was Sage mean? No way. But Jen was mighty scraped up after that. All because she wanted to play with that dog who was not under control and barking at Sage.

  9. I read your post earlier and “liked” it but didn’t get a chance to comment as I was running to work. I just wanted to let you know this was an excellent post. You’re so right. My cavalier King Charles, Brady, is a sweetheart of a dog. He’s my baby. He’s 9 years old and has always been the gentlest if dogs. In this last year he’s started to lose his hearing and his eye sight isn’t what it used to be. We now have a bit IMF a problem when people come over. He goes up to them, sniffs them all the while wagging his tail but when the put their hand out he growls and try’s to snap at them. We have an appointment with the get to try and understand what’s causing this type of behaviour in a dog that’s never done that before. I live Brady with all my heart but you still need to be cautious and when friends come over with their kids I now ask them not to pet Brady. This breaks my heart and confuses people because to look at him he’s the sweetest.

    1. I understand but you are being responsible in doing so. And in the process you are teaching your friends’ children’s a valuable lesson in approaching dogs.

  10. A most pawesome and educational post Rumpy! We big Mals already get enough prejudice (especially ones like sisfur Nalle who looks so wolf-like!), so thank you fur this! Woooowooooos to youwooowooooooo!

    1. Many people equate Malamutes and Huskys with wolves. We are domesticated dogs. We are smart. We are strong. And we need to be because we’re bred to be work dogs. Too often people see the cute and don’t understand the rest that goes along with caring for a dog like us.

  11. Absolutely and completely agree. Absolutely. Especially; learning about the animals you have in the house and THINKING like them. I once read a bumper sticker that said Dogs are Human too. It made me so mad. No, they are not. They are Dogs (I wanted to shout out the window, it was such a dangerous statement) I have a lamb in the house at the moment and I know that everyone loves the photos of the lamb and dog together and we laugh and call the dog Nanny Boo,but he is NEVER allowed to be with the lamb or his kitten without supervision for a number of reasons. All of which you have listed. It would be my fault if something bad happened. Mine. Dogs are dogs. I would also add that dogs need to be trained every day, forever. Even five minutes of practicing sit and stay each day. You are the head of the pack and in all packs the Head reminds everyone every day that he is the Boss. Excellent post! You certainly know your stuff.. c

    1. Yeah, one of my pet peeves is the pet clothing thing. I know lots of folks do it, and it’s cute and all, but it humanizes animals, and that bothers me. A coat in inclement weather, boots to protect from rock salt, are all good. The other stuff? It’s not for the animal’s benefit. It’s to entertain humans.

  12. wow….I hadn’t heard that.
    That is so horrible.
    I have had people say to me….”you know Huskies are on the most dangerous dogs list and you shouldn’t own them because you have children, they are dangerous dogs”
    To that I say BULL: HOOEY!
    What us human people need to do is as you said, learn our dogs behavior. Read their body language etc…
    In my house we have a few baby gates put up and when the dogs dont want to be around the kids, they simply jump over the gate and go have a nap in the kitchen.
    I never leave my dogs with my children alone, I have heard far to many of these exact stories. And I am fully aware that things like this happen.
    Thanks for sharing this today guys, and for your very honest views on things as well.
    Parents need to be smarter about these things, and thats just that!

    Love is being owned by a husky

  13. We had heard this…. and we feel that it is More a PEEP Problem than a Breed Problem…. with a LOT of the responsibility for News/Media for FANNING the Flames and making things WORSE then they are… and for NOT insisting that PEEPS take responsibility for BOTH their CHILDREN and their Pets… YES, it is a PEEP problem…

  14. I completely agree, but it’s the bit about Animal Control Services that I was nodding emphatically to. Lots of people think I’m cold when I’ve given a similar opinion, and it’s refreshing to hear someone else agree.

  15. I read that story this morning and shook my head. It’s always the dog at fault and never the irresponsible owners.

    One of the news sources talked to a neighbor who saw the dog removed said the muzzle was all white, and they’re holding the dog for now. As well as investigating the family.

  16. Thank you this important post. I don’t take my dog to dog parks for the exact reason you state. Too many idiots who don’t control their dogs. I wish there was an easy answer but I don’t thin there is. The dogs will pay the price of irresponsible people.

  17. You are absolutely right, well said. I love my dog, he is very mild mannered, but still I would NEVER leave him alone with a child, no matter what age. I also feel like people should be aware that letting their large breed play or co-mingle with a small breed (esp. toy size) is precarious. I’ve heard too many stories of larger dogs mauling smaller with and without humans present. It’s all very sad.

  18. Yes, we heard about this tragedy. There are too many waiting to happen. Our close friends were walking their dog (read small, unagressive french mountain sheep dog) and rounding a corner their dog was attacked by a Great Dane. Nothing in that race make up suggests this agression other than the owner not being in control. Our friend’s dog is beginning to recover from major surgery but his view of the world has probably been set askew for months. Our dear friend has punture wounds in nails of one hand and an ankle after stupidly trying the break the mauling up. What emotional scars would our goddaughter be suffering if she hadn’t been at school? Control your dog or don’t have one.

  19. I agree with what you say Rumpy, but we all forget that we would not even leave a child alone with a total stranger so why would we leave a dog alone with a child or vice versa. We watch our children around water, in parks where there are strangers, we pick them up from school, take them to sporting activities and supervise them in the school playground…………..so why do people think that children do not need supervising around animals…………….that includes cats and birds. Dogs can and will react to children when antagonised and so will children amongst themselves. I have no knowledge personally of this tragedy but I do know that nothing is to be trusted these days……………not animals, children or adults. Adults violate on a daily basis other adults and also children and animals without provocation, so don’t blame the dogs, blame the owners and lack of training and understanding. Its no different to becoming a parent for the first time…………we have no training and make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes can be fixed and sometimes they are costly and can never be fixed. A dogs brain is like a childs up to the age of about 18months and will never develop beyond that whereas a childs will. That means we continually supervise a small child so they do not drown, burn themselves, injure other children, fall down stairs etc the list goes on. Do we stop supervising a child because they become older and should know better. The simple answer is no and so we do not stop supervising a dog either.

  20. I cannot agree with you more.. We have a neighbour who had a 10 week old dog in Oct of the same breed. and they have hardly ever taken it out for a walk, in fact if it carries on being penned up in a place it is given to roam outdoors much longer the RSCPA will be called.. They have two young children under the age of 10.. It was bought as a whim from what I can gather on a big O birthday present… It breaks my heart as they go out to work all day.. and it had separation disorder almost from day one as we could hear its constant cries.. So many people take on Dogs and do not understand they have a responsibility to the Dog.. And its a Dog not something that they can take up and leave off looking after when it suits…
    Your words are so right a child should not be left alone.. and it saddens me that these tragedies are happening much more often.. Three such fatalities within weeks of each other with small children here in the UK…And the dog is blamed… Its not always the Dogs fault. in fact its often the human who is at fault for its treatment of the dog..

    Sue xx

  21. The same has happened with Siberian Huskies – there have been a few similar situations. Amen to all that you said. We are very sorry for the family’s loss and hate to put the blame on them. But a small baby should always be under strict supervision by an adult. There are many things that can happen and not just from a dog.

    Woos – Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

    1. Right you are. I never left my baby alone unless he was in his own crib in his own room with no animals and the intercom on so I could hear him. And that was 43 years ago. I’ve always had pets, but I also understand the laws of unintended consequences. Be careful, not regretful.

  22. This is all true. The part about not allowing dogs to roam off a leash is especially fitting to me right now. This morning I was reading an article about how in Northern VA, many people are getting “backyard chicken coops” and it’s still legal to shoot any dog that enters. So people’s pets, who are off leash and go into the coops have been shot. Also – My good friend would allow her little, super friendly dog to wander freely in her front yard without supervision and she was actually stolen from the yard. I imagine backyards are probably safer if people don’t have access to it and the dog is fenced in.

  23. Excellent blog!!! I learned that the hard way when my hubby brought Bogart Sam home…he was a Shepherd/Husky/Mallie cross & had no training. He had lived chained in the backyard eating raw meat for the first 7 months of his Life. I was ill equipped to care for him & my hubby whose family bred and raised Samoyeds was little better…..Taking Bogart Sam for a walk one day I let him close to another Husky, a female & she sniffed him and then bit his nose! I felt like such an idiot. I didn’t get mad at the Husky & got Sam home quick and to the Vet’s. A week later for some unknown reason Bogart Sam bit my husband & he punched the dog! Needless to say I grabbed Sam & locked hubby out of the house….I did let hubby back in a few hours later but Sam would not go near him…the marriage broke up & my husband took Sam to the Humane Society….I was not happy I can tell you. I was not allowed in to see Sam but I did manage to find someone to listen to me so I could tell them about Sam’s needs. I did find Bogart Sam a year later & he was doing much better. I vowed I would not have a dog again because I was not prepared for a big dog like him or the temperment…
    I had a Foxhound for 5 years prior & Rebecca was nothing like Bogart Sam….
    Lesson learned….
    Bogart Sam lived to be an old doggie & he was loved…thankfully…
    Sherri-Ellen xo

  24. It is a tragedy that a baby died. Part of me cannot understand that people think it’s okay to leave small children and dogs alone together when each event like this gets so much publicity. But then part of me is aware of images and gifs of children and dogs interacting in ways that are potentially lethal getting lots of “likes” from people within the animal loving community. I have commented on some of them that what is happening isn’t safe and received a huge thumbs down from people telling me that the parents wouldn’t have allowed it if they’d thought there was the slightest risk. (Things like a toddler taking a dog’s food, or a dog being allowed to pull the clothing of a crawling child.) Well, it’s too late to reconsider the risk factor when it’s gone wrong. It also gives other people who know less about dogs the impression that what is happening is acceptable and all dogs will behave that well with children.

    1. I agree, Clowie. I’ve done the same. And It doesn’t matter if they ignore you. Hopefully, for some, the message will stay in their minds and they’ll take better care. But then, some will do anything to get a few seconds of fame online, and it doesn’t matter WHAT you say to them.

  25. Oh my. I hadn’t heard… that’s awful for all involved.

    I have two cocker spaniels, and that breed has the “cuteness curse.” They are super cute, not too big, and look like animated toys and so they are not treated respectfully as real dogs, real hunters, with highly attuned ears and eyes to locate, chase down and bite squeaky, fluttery, running objects… like young children.

    It is so unfair to dogs to treat them as humans, as children. It puts so much pressure on a dog – and we already ask dogs to supress so many natural dog inclinations to fit into human society. It must be so stressful for them – no wonder the rate of dog bites has gone up.

  26. Well said.

    Owners have to keep in mind what a dog was bred to do, also. Our bearded collie was built to be a herding dog. We did not let children run around the backyard with him because he would nip an elbow to “herd” them where he thought they should be.

    A dog hearing a baby’s cries may not hear a tiny human, they may interpret those cries as the shrieks of injured prey.

  27. Great article, Rumpy, and what a tragedy. Sadly so many folks don’t want to take responsibility for their animals, which means realizing they are indeed animals with their natural instincts. When I was very young, my mom and I were walking in on the street past a neighbor’s house and their dog, a rather sweet looking beagle, ran out barking defensively, jumped up on me as I was only about 3 or 4, and its tooth went through my cheek before anyone could react. I was lucky and sustained only a small puncture wound, but for the rest of my life after that, I’ve adopted a very closed off demeanor towards dogs I don’t know. Your advice about not looking an unknown dog in the eye or smiling at it if it’s upset or barking at you, is terrific, and I learning even more from reading this, thanks.

  28. Dear Rumpy,
    Couldn’t agree more with this post! When researching our first dog, we chose a Siberian Husky vs. a Malamute. (Both gorgeous.) But I couldn’t see myself handling a 125 lb. Malamute. After 35 years I’m pretty good with Huskies and really appreciated your post. I do all I can to dissuade any first time or even third time owners from getting a Husky (Malamute/sled dog) because I know what is required. Most people don’t have the stones for it. I could go on at length but you know the story. Some breeds REALLY need to be fully understood to be enjoyed. Thanks Rumpy for all your good work and hope you’re feeling better.

  29. I’m sorry about the child and the loss. But I am equally sorry that a dog that was acting like a dog is vilified and now horrible things will happen. You are right. A dog is a dog – it is not a child or a baby or an adult human – responsibility is needed to be a good animal care taker/pet/ whatever. Just like responsibility is needed to be a parent. I treat my cat like a cat and my husband treats his dog like a dog. And they are happy we do so. It’s good you brought this up, as uncomfortable as it may be to people.

  30. Spot on, Rumpy. I have an American Akita, and she dislikes children – she’s terrified of them because of something in her past, and we don’t know any kids so we have never been able to teach her any different. But, she’s a big fluffy beautiful dog and kids just gravitate to her. It never goes well. She rolls her eyes up at me and asks to be saved the minute a child gets close, and I of course do so. But sometimes the little people don’t listen and then I get scared and the dog gets more scared… Once she slipped her collar trying to get away and ran out into traffic. I went mental on the girl who refused to back off and nearly caused my dog to get killed. What could I do if she was cornered again and bit? No one would ever take the dog’s side.

  31. Excellent points. I took a business law course in school last year and one of the cases we read about was about a pit bull killing a child. It occurred in the home of an apartment. A family visiting another family with their kids. The kids were allowed to play in a back room with other kids family dog. In this particular case, the owner wasn’t sued and the parents of the children were not blamed. The one blamed was the landlord of the apartment complex. The landlord lost the case and had to pay thousands and thousands of dollars in fines but the dog owner and the parents of the children were never held responsible. Of course, the dog was blamed too. Very sad.

  32. Yes. Dogs are dogs. It is a combination of who they are born as (lineage), their canine mother (and her impression on them in the first several weeks), their puppyhood with humans through adolescence, and then their daily life and all that affects it — and that can be many, many things. It’s not a simple owner or breed thing. Good owners can have bad dogs despite grand efforts, bad owners can have terrific dogs.

    The more this is understood, the better we’re all off. It’s a combination of genetics (breed, exposure, even luck) *and* ownership… but what it comes down to is each dog is an individual – a product of many, many things. And dogs need to be treated and respected as such, and we need to understand the fine nuances and unpredictability for safety of both dogs and humans.

  33. This drives me around the bend! We were treated to an amazing experience this weekend where people admired Hufflepup and every last one of them asked permission to approach and pet him. That’s, sadly, highly unusual. Most people seem to think that just because a dog’s cute (let’s face it, so many are!) they should treat them like a best friend even though they’ve never met before. I don’t know why people seem to think that just because dogs are beloved, they can be thought of like people. We passed a chichi photographer’s studio where they had a sign saying: Dogs are people, too. My friend and I hollered at the sign: NO THEY ARE NOT! They’re dogs! They may be part of our family but they are dogs and we’re doing them no favors treating them like they’re not.

  34. We had not heard about this incident. But we, our whole family, bipeds and quadrupeds…all agree…dogs are dogs…they are not people…their instincts are different and no matter how well trained…they are dogs. Same with us cats…and IMHO all the accountability begins and ends with humans…how they treat us when we are young, how they ‘breed’ us and ‘why’…oh well…that is my ‘soap box’…this is horrific on so many fronts

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  36. I totally agree with this. I just wish people would stop blaming the breeds. But there are now many laws that are holding the owners responsible. I remember working at a vet and LOVING my job because some of the most “vicious” dogs were the sweetest. My favorite dog was named “Beast”. He was a pit that was used to fight. He hated other dogs but loved people. He literally used to smile when you said his name. I will never forget that sweetheart.

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