My Dad Hated Dogs

Cutest Puppies ever, but Not the Best Choice for Many People!

Imagine how proud my parents were when I decided to follow my dream of dog training!

I am not sure how it all happened.

My name is actually French for “kitty”, so you’d think I’d be a cat lover (I AM) and a dog hater (I AM NOT), especially since my father so disliked dogs when I was a kid.

When I was a toddler my mom broke the rules and got my older sister a dog, I think he came from Santa Claus.  He was a Maltese mix the first problem is that my mom allowed my sister to name him…  My sister was a creative child.  She named an all-white dog “Zebra”.

My mom admits they would giggle at the vet when we made an appointment for “Zebra” and I remember we had a 4 ft fence he would regularly jump.  We would wander through the neighborhood yelling “ZEEBRA… ZEBRA COME!!!” and crying.

I think this is what Zebra looked like

Our next dog, my mom smuggled home after she saw free puppies at the mall where she worked.  He was an apricot poodle that my mom named “OJ”.  I remember he had ringworm, and then so did the rest of the family.  I was maybe 6 when we had “OJ”, but my dad hated him.

I don’t remember the facts because I was so little so I don’t know if there was a WHY (like he chewed stuff or pottied on the floor) but I do remember him making us get rid of him.

They found a home with other kids and OJ went to live about 10 miles away.  Then after about a day, his new owners called and told us that he had run away.  We were blown away when the following day he had actually found his way through town and home again.  Mistakenly I then thought we would get to keep him, but we weren’t allowed.  I remember being heart broken.

Then when I was 12 the people across the street raised and showed Chow Chows.  We watched these beautiful little fur balls grow and one day my mom (she was always the instigator) snuck across the street and bought us a puppy.

To our surprise, this was the only dog my dad had ever liked.  We all loved “Baby Bear”, but I have to admit, a Chow is not the best dog for newbie dog owners.  Chows kind of have a reputation for being aggressive.  As a breed of dog, they have not been domesticated for as long as many of the other breeds and our “Beary” was no exception to the rule.  She would show her teeth if she thought she was in trouble and she threatened to kill anyone who came to the house.

When she was about a year old I went with my mom for her vet visit.  I still can’t figure out why the vet and my mom allowed me to be up by her face when she got her shots.  But I certainly got bit.  I think the vet had wings, I have never seen a human move so fast!  I think a tooth scratched my mom, but I got the brunt of the attack.

I have always been a quiet kid (and now an adult), so I didn’t say anything until we had muzzle the dog, wrestled her down, gave her her shots and paid the bill.  In the car, I remember saying to my mom “I got bit”.  To which her response was… “Yeah, well,… we all got bit”.

It wasn’t until we got home that I tried to emphasize how badly I had been bitten.  You could see the tendons in my hand and the deep puncture wound.  It was so deep it was barely bleeding.

My mom didn’t believe in investing in medical bills or doctor visits.  Not that we did not have insurance, we did… she just never took us to a doctor.

So she got some isopropyl alcohol and a large Q-tip, dunked the Q-tip in the alcohol and proceeded to thrust it  into the holes in my hand.

Not only did she force it down into the hole, she then twirled it around to make sure I almost fainted and that she got out anything that might cause an infection.

What our Baby Bear Looked Like

I must admit I didn’t get an infection (mostly because I think my dog still had fairly clean teeth).  But I will also say I grew up a lot that day.  It was my first bite, my first dog scar, I got to see the tendons in my hand and how my hand works, and it was probably the worst pain I had had up to that point.

I think some kids would have been scared of dogs, or would have disliked even their own dog after that; but I didn’t.  I still loved her.  But I realized the capability and damage dogs can do in a fraction of an instant.

I realize now, the vet had probably seen some signs that my mom and I just didn’t recognize; and that is why it seemed he had wings that day.  It was pure self-preservation on his part!

I also used this experience as a reason to keep the dog.  If I could endure a bite like that and still want to keep the dog, I was going to make sure neither my mom nor my dad would ever get rid of her.

I thought dog ownership was a commitment and giving up was not an option.

That is when I realized I loved and wanted to work with animals.  Although I went to college for a non-animal degree; I soon recognized that I had a gift with animals and the ability to read their behaviors fairly quickly.

After a few years and getting jobs first working with Service Dogs for the disabled and then starting my own non-profit, my parents learned to accept my choice of work and eventually have a little pride about what I do.

And, the good news is… my dad was just a “big dog” person.  He loved our Chow Chow, then my parent’s got an Akita and later all the dogs that I owned up until my dad died (2 Rottweilers, and 2 Belgian Shepherds) and of course all the Service Dog’s in training I brought home.

My “Snitch” was a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog and he was around during the time that my father’s Alzheimer’s was getting severe.  Mr. Snitch use to go over and nuzzle my dad’s hand and sit there with him for hours.

I remember my dad saying once “I LOVE this dog!  I wish I had, had a dog like this when I was a kid”.

I know they are both now smiling down on me from heaven.

Even if you get a late start owning dogs in life, you can still become quite proficient with them and unless you are a professional I suggest avoiding the bite :)!

And, to those of you parents out there debating on whether or not to get your kids a dog.  Sometimes a dog can be just what they need to become a kind and caring adult.

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Comments

  1. Luann says:

    This was so sad. i can’t believe you couldn’t keep the dog after it ran back to you..OMG! I have tears…But it ended well. I’m sorry for your losing your dad and dog…it is very hard but he did like the dog at the end…Nice story

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  2. barry studer says:

    I hope people will think about getting a rescue dog – they are easiest to train

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  3. Emily says:

    Great Story, some dogs can be so unpredictable, but still part of the family, when my dad was ill with cancer our collie sat on his bedside till the day he died, 2months later our collie died and the vet (for the 1st time in his career) diagnosed a broken heart, love my dogs, keep up your good work x

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  4. Jeanne says:

    We were NEVER allowed to have dogs as kids. When my older brother was 10 years old a parasite from a dog got into his eye and my brother lost sight in that eye. He was an ongoing patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital and doctors and students studied him like a lab rat. They couldn’t fix the already (dead) eye and were trying to prevent “IT” from spreading to the other good eye. I’ve always loved dogs and honestly mostly because they are adorable and love you unconditionally. I have a Lab/Pit mix “SCRAPPY” he is a 80lb Lap dog. Yeap he thinks he is little and he climbs on me and my boyfriend and my 4 year old granddaughter and sits on our laps. No I am not worried about my granddaughter. First they are always supervised and as I watch her ride her bike back and forth in the yard there is Scrappy running beside her lap for lap as long as she rides. If she falls (anywhere in the house) and starts crying, he will jump over furniture to lick her face to make sure she is ok. Even my brother (who still has sight in one eye 40 years later) loves Scrappy. There is something about dogs that makes your heart grow.
    (Of course I can’t prove that it’s more like a feeling).

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  5. Lauren says:

    Growing up my parents raised show dog Collies, and at any time we had at least a dozen dogs. There has never been a time in my life that I didn’t have at least one dog. I love all animals and have kept just about everything–cats, birds- one was a Macaw, snakes, rats, guinea pigs,lizards, frogs. (Did I mention I raised 2 boys.) Currently in addition to a dog a cat and a canary I keep a loft of all white pigeons for release and have had them for at least 30 years.
    I cannot tolerate any sort of animal abuse and I volunteer at our local zoo. Animals enrich our lives and teach us responsibility and patience, but most of all, unconditional love.

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  6. Rose says:

    Great story, I’ve always wanted a small dog but my dad did not like dogs or cats. After I got married my husband liked big dogs, we had german sheppards that were good gogs, I was okay with them but never got very close. years later my husband supprised me with a 10 week old malties, he was the love of my life and a great dog, he was health for 9 years and then he got deabetes and later he got blind, we still took care of him for the next 2 years antil he was so sick we has to let him go. Mow 2 years later we have a new puppy a westie very smart, but he does not like tohave anything taken out of his mouth even if it is just paper, he hid bit my husband and drew blood, we are trying to train mot to be aggressive it’s working some what, any suggestions?
    Thanks

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  7. An experience that teaches that planning to have a dog is like preparing to have a child. Preparing to bring a puppy or a rescue home makes a big difference in preventing problems that can occurr that are aggravating and even unpleasant. Planning and becoming educated makes a big difference in whether or not the new arrival is a pleasure to have in your home. Taking for granted that knowing the expectances of the household are present in the genes is not uncommon and provides rescue organizations with multitudes of clients for which to find homes. It is fun to plan to have a new canine arrival and sets the stage for all family members to enjoy the experience.

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  8. Andrea says:

    My dog bit me when she was a puppy. I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that she was eating and I knew she was food aggressive from the day we got her. I was walking by her and in a flash she bit my calf. It didn’t break the skin but it made a huge bruise at least 6 inch diameter and stayed painful and swollen for while. That was when I learned the importance of training dogs NOT to be food aggressive.

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  9. Beth says:

    I’ve had dogs ever since I was a child..I love ALL animals..I believe that if people love pets, or animals, they are good people…You know that dogs give back to YOU, without any hesitation…..!

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  10. ginger says:

    Wow! That took courage. I remember getting little bites (little scars now on my eyebrow and lip), but it was always my fault! Yes, it was. I was in the dog’s face! My family is a dog family. My parents always had dogs when they were growing up and hence so did I. Who can live without pets? Who would want to? 🙂

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  11. Patricia Langdon says:

    The picture on this website could be one of my little Morky (Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier cross). I would not have chosen to have a puppy at my age (82), and if my daughter and granddaughter had not acquired this little animal to cure my sadness at the loss of my previous dog – Pebbles (a border collie/dalmation mix). Never in my life having been without a dog, I would have adopted an adult dog from animal rescue. It was not easy to train Teddy (named by my granddaughter because he looked like a little teddybear, but nicknamed “Monkey” by her boyfriend because he was so full of mischief.)
    Like most Maltese dogs, this one even in the early months was quite impossible to train (failing his training classes twice). He had a Will of his own, and since he had such loving behaviour, I left him alone to get a little older. He had never attempted to bite, but he does tend to tear apart soft toys. He will turn 3 in January, and recently I have noticed tremendous improvement in him. Without
    any effort on my part, he will now respond to sit, down, NO, and finally he now poops on his morning walk, and not on his pee pads. I love him dearly just as his is. Pat Langdon

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  12. Linda says:

    Thanks for a great story – it brought back so many memories of growing up with animals. I am almost 60 years old, and in my lifetime people’s attitudes toward pets have changed radically. My parents liked dogs and we always had a dog growing up. But those were the days when dogs were made to live in the backyard while the family lived in the house. No one bought actual pet food for their dogs – pets simply ate table scraps. Vet care was a single rabies shot once a year – if any other health problems came up, the dog was simply put down. Training meant popping a dog’s nose with a rolled up newspaper, and when people didn’t get the results they wanted, it was no big deal to get rid of the dog. We have come a long way since then.

    In young adulthood, I continued the tradition of having a dog, but I quickly decided that it wasn’t any fun to have a dog that lived in the yard. I wanted a dog who could be with me all the time, and as soon as I was living on my own, all of my pets became house pets. When I brought my first dog into the “people house”, it was amazing how much training happened automatically, simply by virtue of the dog living among people and being constantly exposed to our ways. The dog just responded to our rhythms and basic obedience came easily – although I am sorry to say that it still occasionally involved that dreaded rolled up newspaper. Veterinary care was more comprehensive and we purchased large bags of inexpensive dog food from the grocery store.

    As my family grew, living in the same house with our dogs gradually taught us a radically different way to relate to our animals. We lived in an area at the edge of the county where people would dump unwanted pets. Because of this, we ended up adopting several cats and dogs that wandered into our yard looking for food and love. A big turning point came one day when a young Border Collie showed up on our doorstep. She was starving and had been abused. We wanted to keep her, but it was clear to us that a rolled up newspaper would be counterproductive in training a dog who had been so severely beaten that you couldn’t even pet her without a yelp of fear. That is what motivated us to explore training methods that didn’t involve punishment, and to our surprise, the results were better than what we had gotten with negative methods. We tried this new way of training on our other dogs and got similar positive results, and we eventually realized that the old fashioned rolled up newspaper was counterproductive to any dog-human relationship.

    When we adopted a puppy with health issues, a little research convinced us that our dogs needed better nutrition thnt we had been providing and so we started them on a high quality diet. The initial investment was significant because good quality food isn’t cheap. However the payoff was huge, both in the health of our dogs and in the major reduction in veterinary expenses. In the long run, that “expensive” food resulted in our dogs living longer than their breeds’ life expectancy, and they were so healthy that even our special needs pup lived a long and happy life and required relatively little medical care. When she died, she was still beautiful, with a thick and glossy coat, and she was a pleasure to be around even within the last 48 hours of her life. In her advanced old age, she was significantly helpful in the training of our younger dogs because her calm and experience was an eloquent example to them of how a dog should behave. The modest investment in “expensive” dog food yielded thousands of dollars of savings in veterinary costs and healthier, better behaved, and longer lived pets. I do think that good quality food is an underrated factor when it comes to pet training, because a healthy pet is a well behaved pet, and when animals are well nourished, they are better able to pay attention and learn what we are trying to teach them.

    Now that my children are grown up, they are continuing the family tradition of always having an animal companion. One of my children is studying to be a veterinarian, and I have started a small pet sitting business. When I think of how I viewed pet ownership as a young person, it startles me how much my own philosophy has evolved during my life. I remember a time when getting rid of a family pet was no big deal, and animals were not given much consideration in the grand scheme of things. It is sad to think of how often much of the value of human/animal relationship has been lost over the years due to ignorance and the inability to understand training. Sometimes the remembrance of that first puppy I brought into my house to live makes me wish I could go back in time and treat him with the understanding that I learned in subsequent decades. These days, my dogs are very happy creatures, and I look forward to many years ahead with them, and to learning more and more of what we have to offer each other. I can no longer imagine the notion of “getting rid of the family dog”! They are truly members of the family, and they are here for the rest of their lives.

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  13. Dawn says:

    I lost my father when I was 2 so I don’t know much about him and my mother really isn’t an animal lover:-)

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  14. Dotty says:

    Wow, I am so glad you made it through all of that and still love dogs! They are worth loving for sure.
    My parents always had a dog. I think the first family dog came into my life when I was 3mo old…. my brother was 10. I think our dog finally went on when I was 14, and I cried my heart out. I had allready been loving the dog next door to us. She did not get any attention and I walked her each day for them. When she got out of their yard and ran off she was wearing our dogs collar and out dated license, so we finally got a call from some people across town. My mom and I went to get her…. she was so glad to see us. After that the neighbor gave me the dog. She was such a sweet heart. Cissy lived with us until she died the month before my wedding… I was 27 then. Finally when I got my own home My husband gave me a little poodle cocker mix pup for my birthday. She was so smart…. She lived to be 10 and got cancer. Wow did my heart hurt!
    My next dog was a Cocker rescue. We loved her, but she had issues all her 14 years. She was comfortable with us, and had a good life, but you always had to remember her limits and we did. She was my walking buddy.
    After that I was given a Mothers day gift of a 9 week old toy poodle. Now the kids were all grown and gone so she became our little girl! What a joy she was. She lived 12 years… not long enough for us. We lost her this past May. What a hard hard day that was…. still hurts, and how we miss her. I was her care giver….and you know I would do it all again for her.
    Now… you can not replace these darlings of our lives, but you can have happy days again with another dog. One month after our loss we got a new toy poodle of 10 weeks to join our lives. She is quite a girl….. nothing like the last one. Maybe that is good? She is keeping us busy and I am trusting she will be with us for a long time. She does nip when she plays however, and I am having to work hard to curb this problem. Suggestions?

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    Minette Reply:

    Remove yourself or her from the room when she nips.

    You can try to distract her by giving her a different toy, but sometimes they need to realize that if their teeth come out… you will no longer be around.

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  15. Adele says:

    When i was a teenager my dad gave away my year old border collie Georgia while I was at school (on a whim because my mum was away and it was all getting too hard.). In our family it wasn’t really an option to complain and I just grieved in silence. I hardened my heart towards dogs after that. Thought I wasn’t a “dog person.” Well after 6 years of begging by my now 12 year old daughter we now have a 13 week old golden retriever named Charlie. I have completely fallen in love with her.

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    Minette Reply:

    Good for you!!!

    I think pets are crucial for a child’s growth and development!

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  16. Dotty says:

    Linda,
    Loved your post! You have a great history… a pet lover for sure.
    I believe what you say. Animals were thought to be outside only. Maybe for work, or in some cases sport helpers, but not our home companions. Not valued members of the family worthy of quality care.
    My family was different. We only had one dog at a time and they were a loved and protected member of the family. We lived in the city, but had a large yard and a big garden. Our dog was out in the yard a lot playing with us, but in just as much. Always in by dark and slept inside at night.
    Gosh, our family dog heard all my problems and was good at giving attention and love. Got me through the teenage woes.
    I am 70 and even now some people think I am a little nuts to spend the money we do on our pets. They are like our children. I do the best I can for them. I am sure you do too.
    I think people learn so much from taking care of a pet. I could never think of putting a pet down just because it was inconvient to have. I am glad times have changed.
    I am glad we both have more years in us to share with our furry friends! We are blessed.
    Dotty

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  17. Diane says:

    My Dad was really the dog person, but my Mother came around. Dad was from the country and Mom from the city. I can NEVER remember NOT having a dog in all my years….and that’s a lot of years.
    I can remember once when we moved into a new neighborhood when I was probably about 5yrs old. The next door neighbors dog, a Collie I think, bit me in the face. I don’t know what I was doing to it to have it bite me. I didn’t come out with a scar, so it must have been more of a nip to leave it along. That nip didn’t scare me away from dogs however.
    As I married and my husband who was in the Army was sent to Korea I went along with him a few months later. Even there I had a puppy and sadly when we were sent home I had to leave her there. At the time I didn’t realize I could bring her home with me. That was so sad.
    My favorite jobs was working with animals. I worked for a dog handler who showed dogs. I worked in kennels, groom shops and finally in a groom shop that the owner taught me to groom.
    So I have been a groomer for almost 20 yrs and love my job. I have 4 dogs as family members. One of the family members is a Standard Poodle, 2 1/2 yrs old. She would be the perfect dog if she would just learn not to bark at EVERYTHING! But hey, she’s a keeper anyway.

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  18. Margaret Marsh says:

    I have used the command “GENTLY!” with my animals for the past 50 years.

    When we got our Morkie, an 8 week-old bundle of fur and love, I started using “Gently” whenever he needed to nibble on my hands while teething. He, like all my dogs, has never been a biter. I have never been bitten by any of my dogs.

    I also taught the “GENTLY” command to my beautiful Blue and Gold Macaw. One day when strangers were in the kitchen, Walter bit down on my thumb. He looked startled and said: “I’m sorry, ‘No Biting! Gently!” I had to laugh as I assured him that that was absolutely right, that we need to be Gentle.

    I always use this command with my animals and am delighted that they have learned the meaning of the command.

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  19. Solmaz says:

    Hi
    I live in Iran,I love animals specially dogs, and i have 5 cats and a dog…its really hard here to convince others to keep dogs…i think i can communicate with animals but here its hard to learn how to treat with them…In my country ,government kills dogs with no reason and there are people who try their best to keep as many as they can alive.I think if they learn things,they might find better owners…but my knowledge about treating is practical…I can communicate with angry dogs and made them to relay on me but this is not enough cause when i find them a family they act bad and often bite them and the family return them back…but i hope you can help me to make a difference …

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    Minette Reply:

    Keep reading our blog and educating yourself.

    The younger you get the dog, the less of the behavior problems you will see.

    The dogs you are speaking of are feral or wild and they have developed problems like food aggression, territorialness, and possession issues because they have to survive… but many of their puppies can probably be conditioned to love and accept people.

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