We spent another fruitless couple of hours at our local humane society. This is not the type of humane society that euthanizes dogs, so it doesn’t have any real impetus to get dogs out of the shelter. Instead, it’s goal is to find the perfect home for every dog. And I mean perfect. We’ve found delightful dogs, but the humane society has refused to give them to us because any given one of these dogs guards its food, or because it’s been nervous around a child, or because it doesn’t like it a whole lot if people touch its back, or because it’s very independent, or because it’s very dependent, or because it’s very active, or because it’s not very active. Basically, the humane society doesn’t like to give dogs to families with children, because children can get rough.
One can say, perfectly legitimately, that children do hurt dogs and dogs do hurt children — and that’s why dogs often end up right back in humane societies. The humane society has an interest in preventing a revolving door situation.
But the fact is that dogs are dogs, and they have to be able to adapt and change their behaviors. The humane society that we live near is so dog-centric that the people there really don’t contemplate the possibility that the dogs can be taught to modify inappropriate behaviors. That is, they don’t seem to realize that dogs are heirarchical animals, and that guarding and touching are pack issues — a dog that realizes it’s low man on the totem pole will allow anyone in the pack that is superior have first dibs on food, and to touch it wherever. Only dogs convinced that they, in fact, are the pack leaders, will engage in this type of antisocial behavior.