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AIBU - dog 'witch hunt'

(28 Posts)
wink1970 Wed 26-Feb-14 16:00:18

Hello all, your thoughts would be welcome on my Mum's problem (by definition therefore also mine!), especially as I feel I need to step in to help her, and might be over-reacting...

My Mum adopted a rescue dog (let's call him "Summer") about 9 months ago, he had been a traveller's dog & had clearly had an awful life, and had some issues, notably occasional aggression to other dogs. She had done her research and from day 1 employed a weekly dog trainer (police dog psychologist, I didn't know there was such a thing!) and within a few months he was 'nearly there' though not quite.

Last month, sadly, Summer bit another dog after the owner/dog suddenly appeared behind him from a footpath and startled him - my Mum admits she should have been quicker to react, & it was awful that he did what he did, but I think the blame was 50/50 given everyone knows he has sometime-aggression (my mum's been very open about it, to make sure other dog walkers knew he was in training & to give a wide berth where possible). She took the responsible decision to muzzle Summer from now on in 'doggy areas', paid the vet bill, and generally made the appropriate conciliatory gestures to the owner.

Since then, some friends-of-the-other-dog-owner (but not the owner herself) have been telling all who they meet that Summer is a vicious dog, unhinged and uncontrolled; on Saturday one made a ranting phone call to my Mum claiming Summer had attacked her dog whilst out with the dog walker. He hadn't, he was muzzled, the 'attack' turned out to be the dog walker's own dog lunging & growling, apparently Summer just stood there. I walked Summer this morning & we met 3 people - friends - who had heard 'stories' of Summer attacking dogs, children, people etc, all completely fictitious.

It appears to be turning into a witch hunt & I'm pissed off about it. I feel I should knock on a few doors and tell some home truths, but am I over-reacting? My Mum is very hurt & I am concerned she will be ostracised by people who so far have been very welcoming to her & Summer.

PS; sorry it's so long....

mrsjay Wed 26-Feb-14 16:06:52

oh some folk are just horrible the poor dog not his fault it was mistreated you and your mum have done everything you can for him and it sounds like he has a loving home, I think i would say something to these people as they are obviously causing problems and drama for summer where there is none needed, I have a rescue dog and he isn't the friendliest to other dogs it is hard to see them growling etc but you havegone to great lengths to help summer.

ViviPru Wed 26-Feb-14 16:10:34

YANBU to be concerned and upset, but YWBU to knock on doors with home truths.

It sounds as though your mum is doing her very best. I think your role in this is to continue to be a support to her and help her weather the storm. It's going to be hard in the face of such negativity but if she can front it out and continue working with Summer, she will be able to prove everyone wrong.

Actions speak louder than words (cliché alert) and in time there'll be a new witch hunt for everyone to get their knickers in a twist over.

ViviPru Wed 26-Feb-14 16:11:40

I meant to say actions speak louder than words and people will see for themselves eventually if they are misjudging the dog.

Jolleigh Wed 26-Feb-14 16:18:22

I think YABU to claim the blame behind the original bite was 50/50. Your mum knew that Summer was aggressive and should have had him muzzled regardless of how well his training has been going.

My dog is terrified of other dogs and attacks. When he's out, he wears a muzzle.

Where the rumours are concerned, yes it does sound like a witch hunt but at least it makes people stay away from what they know to be an aggressive dog.

HeartShapedBox Wed 26-Feb-14 16:19:24

ooh, that would really piss me off.

your mum acted responsibly, and the dog is working with a specialist, what more can she do?

I'd be tempted to tell them to fuck up sideyways, tbh.

HuskyBlueEyes Wed 26-Feb-14 16:39:25

Why did the other owner even allow his dog to approach on such close proximity in order for yours to attack?
Your mum has done a great thing and is continuing to do so.
Sadly by trying to defend this dog you'll probably make matters worse as said animal has now been "tagged" as aggressive, and people will believe anything. What breed is he, may I ask? Is he a breed which is quickly hated upon?

I have a soppy, over friendly husky myself, but I keep her on the leash as she is prone to being a royal bitch turning a deaf ear to my calls when playing is involved. Yet I expect people to be courteous enough to see my dog is on the leash, and keep theirs away.
Given the fact that I am now heavily pregnant, an overly excited leashed husky and an off leash dog pelting for her does not amuse me at all, and half the time owners get shitty for me asking them to keep there's away. Dog ownership is a difficult one, and EVERYONE will have something different to say on fido and his best interests.

wink1970 Wed 26-Feb-14 16:42:13

Hi Jolleigh

I think it was 50/50 because the other owner knew Summer had issues (though he had never done anything more than bark/lunge at that point) and yet came up right behind him when there was opportunity to easily pass by over the road. FWIW the owner said she took some responsibility. Summer is now muzzled.

My concern is that this incident is being played out for drama points by women who (a) weren't there, and (b) are extending his aggression in their stories to ALL dogs ALL the time (it isn't) but more importantly people (nothing could be further from the truth)..... how would you feel if your dog was suddenly 'hound of the Baskervilles' based on gossip and lies?

ViviPru Wed 26-Feb-14 16:44:08

how would you feel if your dog was suddenly 'hound of the Baskervilles' based on gossip and lies?

Really upset I should imagine. Although I would remind myself that these people are not friends, and I would quietly and determinedly prove them wrong. Very best of luck with it.

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Wed 26-Feb-14 16:45:43

don't agree with the other owner being 50/50 responsible.

Also not with the banging on doors and telling home truths.

Your mum is doing a great thing, and it is great you support her. Just weather it out, and it'll blow over.

wink1970 Wed 26-Feb-14 16:45:47

to add, for Husky, he's a whippet - not usually demon dogs, tbf! ;-)

monkeyfacegrace Wed 26-Feb-14 16:49:43

I have a whippet puppy. I love whippets. Therefore, by default, your mums dog is ace.


hmc Wed 26-Feb-14 16:50:48

I would go to the local press with the sad story of a rescue dog, ill treated in its former life, adopted by a loving and responsible owner who has done everything by the book to manage the dogs occasional fear aggression appropriately... and how both the dog and your mother are now subject to an unsubstantiated slur campaign which is making life impossible. It has all the ingredients of a great story and would cast the tittle tattlers as the villains of the piece, perhaps prompting them to shut the f* up.

You could be interviewed to tell your mother's story if you like so that it keeps her out of it. It might annoy the person who phoned her and made false accusations - so what, they are already a lost cause. It might also shame them into leaving your mum and 'Summer' alone and would certainly set the record straight with the fence sitters

hmc Wed 26-Feb-14 16:53:20

also maybe get one of these

FlippingWhatsername Wed 26-Feb-14 16:53:47

People are a quivering mob about dogs at the moment.

It's quite sad to see people who can get in such a heightened state of emotion over the most obvious scare stories - but if you've ever wondered about the kind of peasant who used to string midwives up for witchcraft, there you go.

hmc Wed 26-Feb-14 16:54:59

I've also got a great news title "Rescue dog hounded by smear campaign" (No, I haven't been on the sauce wink )

tabulahrasa Wed 26-Feb-14 17:00:53

I'd ignore it...well I do ignore it, I own a rottweiller, with issues. He's muzzled and kept away from other dogs - people react like he's radioactive.

It suits me fine to be honest, it means he doesn't get hassled by rude out of control dogs - any meetings with dogs can be carefully managed to be positive training experiences because he only meets dogs close up that either belong to people I know well or people with enough sense to take gossip with a pinch of salt and judge me and him by how we behave.

I don't care about what anyone else thinks and if it makes them keep away with their dogs, all the better.

wink1970 Wed 26-Feb-14 17:25:32

HMC, I now have a mental picture of one of those Daily Mail type reportages, complete with Summer looking all hang-dog (please excuse the pun). Fabulous, thank you!

FiscalCliffRocksThisTown Wed 26-Feb-14 17:35:22

A whippet?

Poor thing! They are not known to be aggressive. He must just be, and have been, very scared.

Poor baby

(changes opinion completely)

WorraLiberty Wed 26-Feb-14 17:42:41

It was not 50-50

Your Mum is the only one responsible for her dog

The other dog owner did nothing wrong whatsoever and your Mum's dog should have been muzzled, given its history.

Just try to let it go and hopefully it's all blow over

Rainbunny Wed 26-Feb-14 18:24:37

I think all your mum can do is to keep walking him with a muzzle and to be as vigilant as possible to stay away from other dogs, hopefully people will calm down.
I live in the States and there is informal system of tying a yellow ribbon on your dog's leash to warn other dog owners that your dog should not be approached. I don't actually know if this is effective as I've not witnessed a dog with a yellow ribbon and I don't know if many people are aware of the meaning but I wish this was a universally recognizable sign that everyone could be aware of!

drnoitall Wed 26-Feb-14 18:40:17

This dog has bitten. Shown signs of aggression.
Can you imagine the "witch hunt" if it bites somebody , a child maybe. The dog (no dog ) is worth the risk.

Jolleigh Wed 26-Feb-14 18:54:20

Hi Wink

Still not 50/50 I'm afraid...your mum already knew that Summer isn't reliably non-reactive and therefore the responsibility was 100% hers to ensure Summer was muzzled. I think the owner whose dog was bitten is being extremely generous by accepting any responsibility at all (unless their dog was off lead? Another bugbear of's very difficult to rehabilitate a reactive dog if other people let their own dogs do as they please)

I get that the witch hunt is frustrating, of course I do! But rest assured, Summer doesn't care what people think of him smile It will actually work to his advantage if people control themselves and their dogs more because of these rumours.

I do commend your mum for muzzling and for spending so much time and effort rehabilitating a reactivate dog. Talking from experience, it's extremely difficult and at times nerve wracking.

BackOnlyBriefly Wed 26-Feb-14 19:03:43

Perhaps these people are being unfair now, but the 50/50 bothers me too. Had that been a child who'd walked out suddenly that wouldn't have been ok would it. Your Mum made a serious mistake that could have had much worse consequences.

I wouldn't go knocking on doors, but next time anyone says anything ask them exactly who was bitten and go see for yourself so you can be armed with the facts.

wink1970 Wed 26-Feb-14 19:12:31

Hi BackOnlyBriefly

if it had been a child, or any human, I would have put him down myself.

Another dog, in that particular situation, is another thing, I think - though I can see from the comments that some of you don't feel the same, so maybe I'm being over-protective.

The ex-police dog trainer he's had from day 1 didn't suggest a muzzle based on his assessment & weekly work, though TBF he did insist on one from then on.

Thanks for all your comments, I take from most of them that Mum needs to see the wide berth as a good thing rather than ostracism.

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