I walk my dog every single day. After nearly 7 years of this routine, we have met hundreds (possibly thousands) of other dogs. My pooch has sniffed the privates of every kind of canine: dogs so clean you’d eat off their fur and dogs that just rolled in something long dead. Dogs so excited to say “hi!” that they spontaneously urinate, and dogs that acknowledge us with a dignified swish of the tail. Furry faces hidden in soft mounds of fluff and nearly hairless hounds. Perfect purebred specimens and mutts of unidentifiable origin. Adolescent dogs and geriatric dogs. Dogs the size of bears and little dogs that look like toys.
Those are the ones that really scare us.
Dogs intuitively understand what I learned only after years of collecting quantitative and qualitative data: the amount of evil inside a dog is inversely proportional to the weight in pounds of that dog.
Of course there are exceptions – some little dogs learn to control their wicked impulses for the sake of family harmony. Close family friends adopted a darling 8-pound Maltese who tolerates Mitch just fine but does not hesitate to display unbridled aggression towards other big dogs.
I happen to love the larger breeds. The most noble, heroic dogs always top the size charts. Think Lassie, Balto, and Rin Tin Tin. Consider the childhood stories of kids and dogs – the Henry and Mudge books (Mudge the mastiff is 200 pounds of muscle and drool) and the Little Rascals with their pit bull. A pit bull! Notice the show’s producers didn’t try to cast a Chihuahua or a Pekinese in the role of Pete. They had to think of the safety of their child actors.
On our daily walks, Mitch and I have learned to watch out for those we call “The Tiny Ones.” When a small dog approaches, Mitch moves to whichever side of me is furthest from the little demon. He’s been burned too many times by deceptive innocent cuteness that precedes the surprise assault.
The only dog that’s ever seriously attacked him was A Tiny One. Oblivious to the 60-plus pound size differential between him and Mitch, he came after us with a vengeance and latched on to my poor sweet giant like a rabid mongoose. Only after his frazzled owner came to the rescue did the perpetrator cease his attack. He was carried away like a demon-possessed babe in arms, still seething and wriggling to get back in the fight. Of course the owner glared at me like MY dog started it. As if!
Such events are not rare. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania determined that the three most aggressive breeds of dogs are Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russell terriers.
Surprised? I was, too. I would have guessed Chihuahuas were number one.
Is it anthropomorphism to suggest that these dogs suffer from a Napoleon complex? Embarrassed by their delicate paws, microscopic (if razor-sharp) teeth, and small stature, they have a lot of compensating to do. Their limited dignity is further degraded by accessories like doggie sweaters, miniature raingear, and the variety of bows and barrettes affixed to their nasty little heads. Of course they are mean. What else could they be?
Perhaps due to their undersized brains, little dogs believe if they act big and mean, they will become big and mean. But Mitch and I see past the façade. They are not big, only mean. They are mean because they are small. There is no denying the fundamental truth about dogs.