In defense of dogs and people

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 19:00

Again I read of another case involving a dog attack on a child – this time in a musher’s dog lot. Little saddens me more than anyone’s four-legged friend harming a child. The reality is that they often don’t mix.

As a long time recreational dog musher and a mother of a once junior sled-dog racer, I have learned to respect dogs. Many of my sled dogs were wolf-husky mixes and other breed variations. Like people, dogs come with different temperaments, abilities and intelligence. The beauty of dog mushing is building a team with these idiosyncrasies in mind. For the dog there is a pecking order and a group understanding of territory. Sometimes there are fights and you get bit breaking them up or a dog develops a disorder and becomes irrational or dangerous. It happens.

Some sled dogs are bewildered by tiny children or tiny dogs. A visiting friend’s 4 year old wandered into the dog lot and the next thing I knew one of my dogs tossed that child up in the air. My heart nearly flipped out of my chest. Luckily the child was unharmed. I guess the dog saw him as a toy. Some dogs are very maternal and will try to lift a toddler as if it was a puppy. One family in Alaska lost their baby by holding it close to a hybrid due to this impulse.

The lesson is this – dogs may harm whether they intend to or not. Why take a chance? Don’t allow or take small children or family pets into a dog lot – just don’t do it. In fact, don’t even leave a child alone in a yard or room with the family Lab or with any large dog. That practice could save a child’s life.


— Diane E. Benson

Eagle River

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