Need advice from dog people re: scary neighbor dog - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 01:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My neighbor has a dog that I feel is a danger to my dd. Am I right to be worried? How proactive should I be? Advice gratefully requested. I have 2 dogs, but I'm no dog expert.

The story: Neighbor "A" has two sheepdogs. (Old English, I believe). One of the sheepdogs is confident and friendly. The other is hesitant and a bit fearful. I'll call him "C". C has never been aggressive or threatening to adults, that I've seen.

A frequently has the dogs off lead in her front yard, which means they roam the general vicinity within a few houses and across the street. She gardens and the dogs wander. This is usually at least once a day, often for hours. [The dogs poop on my lawn, but that is a different rant!]

The dogs had been around dd here and there since she was a baby. Not a lot, but some. I like A quite a bit. One day when I was in her back yard with dd, who had recently learned to walk, Dog C came up behind dd and snapped at her back. The dog didn't make contact, but it was a "sneak threat." Dd was doing nothing to threaten the dogs in any obvious way. I scooped dd up and C circled me, trying to get near dd. :

Since then, Dog C will come at us if he sees dd. He will leave his yard and come into ours if dd is on the ground. This scares the out of me. Dd likes to play in our front yard, but I have to be hyper vigilant that the dogs aren't out. I can't see A's yard from my door, or much of my lawn. Dd likes to run out the door when we're leaving, and I am freaked out that one day she'll run into our yard and Dog C will run out and get to her before I do.

Today we were out playing, when A came home. She came out to garden and let the dogs out. (I've let her know C scares me, but she has downplayed it). Grrrr. C came over to check out dd, who I scooped up. A invited me and another neighbor in to see her new painting. I went, but I was totally tense because of the dog. I kept dd on my hip, and C tried to approach us at least 4-5 times. I'd shift my body, A would notice and tell him to back off, he'd approach in again a minute later. Dd got frustrated because I wouldn't let her down, and started to flail her arms. Dog C began growling at us from behind A. At that point I said we were leaving since dd was unhappy and so was the dog. A said, "Oh he always barks when people leave" as I moved towards the door. [Yes, the dogs bark when someone leaves, but the dog was growling at us! Before we tried to leave!]

The complicating factors are this:
1. I like A and I don't want to ruin a friendly relationship
2. When A first moved in (dd was a newborn) my dogs got angry, escaped my yard, and attacked her dogs in her yard. One of my dogs was the only dog to be wounded, but it was MY dogs attacking hers. She was very gracious about it, and we built brand new fences to keep our dogs contained securely.
3. My male dog is known as an unfriendly dog, which he is. She quizzes me about how he is with dd and worries what would happen if he got loose. (He would rather run than fight. It was my female who started the fight and took the wound, as the smallest dog.) In her mind *I* have a dangerous dog, and her dog is not a threat. Sigh.

Also I say my female started the fight, but all the dogs had fence fought before the break out fight. Who knows who "started" what? My female thought she had a baby to protect. Maybe she was right. I was mortified at the time it happened.

So ....... long useless story to ask: how much of a threat is this dog? Do I need to ask her not to let him roam? Or to ask her to put him away when I'm out? Obviously I am within my legal rights, as off leash dogs are against the law where I am, but I feel embarrassesd and bawk-bawk (chicken) to ask her not to let Dog C roam. It is obviously a big part of her life to have the dogs out with her. Her two cats are a part of the posse, too. It would be very cute if I weren't afraid.

Or, are herding dogs a little weird like this? Is the obsession a sheepdog thing? The snap a herding move? I am not okay with her dog herding my kid, and I have no plans to let dd near the dog, but do I need to be sick with worry?

Ugh. Why am I so chicken about this?
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#2 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 01:28 AM
 
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call law enforcement or your local animal shelter and let them do the dirty work for you. tell them there's someone who has her dogs roaming around without a leash, they can go tell the owner for you and you can ask to be anonymous. either that or get a fence. i wouldn't approach the owner either, i had a similar problem a couple years ago with one of my neighbor's dogs barking and the neighbors revving their car engine at 2 am while my dd was sleeping, asked them nicely to do something about it and she preceded to cuss me out and call the cops on me every time we made the slightest noise.
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#3 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 02:31 AM
 
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I don't really have any advice on how to handle the whole neighbor thing. It's so hard to deal with stuff like this, I ignore it and hide because I'm a huge chicken.

But I can tell you that my dog, bless her heart, would always try to herd the neighborhood kids when they would play in our (her :LOL ) yard. She was very careful to keep them away from the gates (we had 3) and since she's part Aussie Shep, she would nip at their ankles. She's always been very protective of ds and kept a close eye on all the little ones. But she never left her own yard (except when she escaped) so it was her "turf" that she was working on, not wandering other people's yards.

Good luck....I think mothering needs a dog forum!
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#4 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by DestinysMama
call law enforcement or your local animal shelter and let them do the dirty work for you.
I second this advice. She is probably breaking a law and at the very least is putting her dog in harm's way by letting him run loose. He could get into trouble when she is not looking. Hopefully, she will take the hint from the dog cops and keep her dog tied up.
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#5 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 02:53 AM
 
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If you're uncomfortable with the dog around your daughter, and A won't listen to you, you have a couple of options. First, you could call animal control. If the dog isn't being a specific threat, though, it may take 3 or more complaints from seperate people to even get animal control out. If you have an issue that is specific, you can call 911 and state your fear and they will come contain the dog (they will usually release it to the owner if the owner is nearby, but sometimes this scares some sense into the owner). Or you can go ahead and fence your front yard too. You can say it was just so your daughter couldn't dash out into the yard and into the street, this is the least confrontational way. I'm sure some will say that I have no room to talk here, but honestly if a dog is being repeatedly allowed loose and showed unusual interest in my child, it would scare me, too. Herding dogs can definately be weird like this, but it still always pays to be on the safer side, especially with children involved. Good luck, and I hope you can come up with a peaceful resolution.
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#6 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 02:55 AM
 
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I second...errr third Calling Law Enforcment.
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#7 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 03:07 AM
 
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You are in a very tough situation!!

I would never ever want your dd to get hurt by this dog and my first reaction is call Animal Control but I want to caution you. If you fear retaliation really really think this through and any other alternatives. We moved into our house and were blessed (not)with a neighbor who finds it fun to call the city as well as DSS for any little thing. Were any of these things legit...nope!! At first we thought it was us and that she just didn't like us but nope she did it with previous owners. The problem is you are guilty until proven innocent with the "system". I live in constant fear of something innocent being made into something it's not or of someone showing up at our door at a very wrong time. Much as you don't want your daughter hurt you don't want her taken away from you because of a retaliating neighbor. Yes innocent people get their kids taken away, not necessarily permanently but in my eyes no one has the right to take my child away, even for a minute, if I've done nothing wrong. I live in constant fear in my own home. I don't let my kids do certain things out of that fear.
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#8 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 03:23 AM
 
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Does the neighbor know her dog snapped at your dd? I would go and tell her and tell her that you want them kept out of your yard for dd's sake. If she grills you about your dogs that one time just apologize and say "but I am making sure they cannot get out now" or something to the effect that you have kept them controlled. If she doesnt listen, I would call.

Desiree

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#9 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 03:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by em&namama
You are in a very tough situation!!

I would never ever want your dd to get hurt by this dog and my first reaction is call Animal Control but I want to caution you. If you fear retaliation really really think this through and any other alternatives. We moved into our house and were blessed (not)with a neighbor who finds it fun to call the city as well as DSS for any little thing. Were any of these things legit...nope!! At first we thought it was us and that she just didn't like us but nope she did it with previous owners. The problem is you are guilty until proven innocent with the "system". I live in constant fear of something innocent being made into something it's not or of someone showing up at our door at a very wrong time. Much as you don't want your daughter hurt you don't want her taken away from you because of a retaliating neighbor. Yes innocent people get their kids taken away, not necessarily permanently but in my eyes no one has the right to take my child away, even for a minute, if I've done nothing wrong. I live in constant fear in my own home. I don't let my kids do certain things out of that fear.

did we have the same neighbor? :LOL

just an fyi, if someone calls cps on you, you don't have to let them into your house without a search warrant. at least then you could clean up or whatever in time. but even if your house is a little messy they aren't going to take your kids away for that
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#10 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 04:00 AM
 
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i would start off by getting a fence if you can afford it.
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#11 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, A knows her dog snapped at my dd. She was there when is happened. At the time she seemed to take it seriously, but her concern has faded.

I do not want to be sneaky and call Animal Control. When my dogs were barking too much while I was away, I appreciated it when a neighbor told me about it so I could fix the situation. I'd much rather someone talk to me first, and I extend that courtesy to friendly neighbors.

A is a very sweet woman. Friendly, generous, all around a good person. I can't imagine her retaliating. What I am afraid of is souring a nice relationship, which could also affect the cul-de-sac as a whole. We are lucky to have really great people living on our cul-de-sac. A's one blindness is to this dog.

A fence isn't very practical for our front yard, and would make the neighborhood look weird. No one here has fenced front yards.

I appreciate the responses.

I would to hear more from people who know herding dogs.
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#12 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 11:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dechen

A is a very sweet woman. Friendly, generous, all around a good person. I can't imagine her retaliating. What I am afraid of is souring a nice relationship, which could also affect the cul-de-sac as a whole. We are lucky to have really great people living on our cul-de-sac. A's one blindness is to this dog.
I'm wondering how nice your relationship will be if that dog harms your dd? Herding dog or not, that dog is showing agression toward your child. My sister had a dog that is just the sweetest Benji looking mutt, but he has a weird obsession with kids of toddler size. He will snap and lunge, and nipped two children. If he was bigger or the children had been too far from someone, it could have been so much worse. He loves babies, he loves children once they are say 6 or 7 year size. My sister had to give him to her older dd's father once her son started walking. There was no explanation for it, other than he was 4 or 5 months old when they got him and was possibly traumatized by a toddler, but who knows?

Anyway, if you don't want to do the animal control thing then you have to have a detailed, serious conversation with this woman. You have to make her see your concern, not dance around it in the name of nicey nice, kwim? That's obviously not working with her. Good Luck!!
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#13 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 11:24 AM
 
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I'm by no means an expert on herding dogs, though I was raised with them (Briards) and know a fair bit about dog behavior.

The nipping could very well be herding. The growling, though, would concern me. I've only had one Briard who growled. He was, quite frankly, pretty neurotic. And I've also heard that OES as a breed can tend to be a bit neurotic.

I wonder if this dog might consider your dd part of his pack (since, obviously, the whole neighborhood is his territory) and the growling was an objection to you taking her away? When he runs over to your dd at other times, what is his behavior like?

Regardless, all of the above are good things to be thinking about, but they aren't the root of the issue. You don't have a herding dog problem, you have an owner problem. The dogs need to be contained and it sounds like your only option is to have a very direct discussion with your neighbor. It's her job to make sure her dogs are not making anyone feel unsafe. You feel unsafe in your own yard - she needs to remedy that. Maybe you could just tell her that you're not comfortable with the way C focuses on your dd and that the growling the other day cinched it for you - that you're sure they are perfectly wonderful dogs, but that you don't want them in your yard.

I understand the desire to keep the neighborhood friendly, but she's the one doing damage to this prospect.

BTW - a fence, unless it was a very tall one, might not do you much good if the dog is very determined.
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#14 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 12:02 PM
 
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Herding dogs can be a tad mouthy but I think the growling is the issue here.

Tough situation here.
I think I would honesty try to gently talk to the lady 1st.
I have 4 German Sheps & that's what I would want...
when we moved, I have an eldery neighbot that naps @ weird hours of the day. I did go over & tell here if my dogs are out doing the day & being too noisy, PLEASE come tell me.
Can you invite her over for coffee or whatever & just tell her your DD is scared?


If you call animal control 1st, will you be able to face her - like you did not do it? :LOL I ask b/c I don't lie well & have a terrible poker face.
This lady sounds very nice & some folks just are not aware of hidden actions of their dogs.
If you call animal control 1st, she may wonder who did it & this may cause discord in your 'hood.

I agree with Dragonfly about telling her

Then again. it could be anonymous..
jeez, I don't know

Me & DH hug2.gif , adult DD lips.gif & 7 yo DS guitar.gif . 2 GSDs, 6 rescue kitties, 4 birds & a gerbil.
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#15 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 12:36 PM
 
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I think of all dogs as threats to toddlers. I see two more-or-less safe options: you can closely supervise their interaction or keep them apart. That's it. Toddlers are very threatening to dogs and you know how bad it could be if the dog decided it was threatened.
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#16 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm realizing I started this thread so people could push me in the direction I need to go in. I know I need to talk to her. I can't put being neighborly above the safety of my dd. That is irresponsible of me, and dangerous. If that dog hurts my child, it will be MY fault.

Polka, the dog growled before we started to leave. He was upset that dd was flinging her arms and starting to fuss.

When he runs towards my dd, the only way to describe him is INTENSE. He doesn't growl, but he stares with total focus. I assume that is a herding thing, but it creeps me out.

He is definately neurotic, in general. He is a rescue, and has a generally fearful attitude. Her other dog is confident and friendly, the alpha.

So .... let's see what my options are:
1. Don't let dd play in front yard
2. Let dd play in yard but be hypervigilant, and remove her when dogs are present
3. Ask neighbor to keep dogs on lead when we are outside
4. Ask neighbor to keep one or both dogs on lead when in front, in general

#2 is what I've been doing, but it makes me sick with stress. Having to be hypervigilant takes a toll on me.

#3 is reasonable.

I think I will also ask her to keep them out of my yard, since they poop on my lawn and she doesn't notice.

Funny how writing helps me see things clearly.

I am not up to calling Animal Control anonymously. That would be a hostile act, and I'm not going to lie about something like that. It isn't respectful, and I'd feel terrible.
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#17 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 02:23 PM
 
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I have a different viewpoint here...I know an Old English sheepdog just like this. It sounds like this one is very interested in your dd. I would think he likes her and it's true that they try to herd the children in their families. The other thing is, she was struggling in your arms. If he is like the other one I know he was growling at *you* because he interpreted it as you hurting her! Was he only growling when dd was failing and screaming in your arms? I'm willing to bet he was trying to protect her. Since you say he follows her around I would think he has a soft spot for her? :

Those are BIG dogs though and I agree that everyone needs to be very careful w/small children around any dog.

Just from what you've described I'm seeing his behavior possibly misinterpreted and that he's not a major threat to yoru dd. Still though, I would be worried about any dog possibly getting at my kid. Do the dogs come to her immediately when she calls them, do they listen to her well? If someone does have control over their dog I'm more comfortable when the dog is off lead. However, if the dogs don't listen to her very well I'd be more wary.

If she won't listen to your fears and concerns in person I wonder if it would help to write her a letter? I know that sounds a bit weird but that way she would have to "hear" you. She couldn't cut you off and interject a defense, kwim?

What about asking her to let you know *before* she lets the dogs out so that you can make sure you and dd are in? It sounds like this is kind of open country property and fences are really an option for either of you?

I hate situations like this. I hope it gets resolved.
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#18 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 03:34 PM
 
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I think this dog is a concern and that you need to deal with it soon. First off OESD's are not herding dogs who heard with their eye (like border collies and aussies) so his intensity on your dd is a definite concern.
My dogs are herding dogs and one of them is very much trained in protection but they both know that if they growl at a child they would have to deal with a VERY nasty wrath of mommy. Growling at a child is simply not acceptable, at any time in any place.
Nothing bad has happened yet but I'm guessing that neither you or A want to be in the situation to sit back and say "Gee, I wish I had done something earlier" by the same token perhaps nothing will ever happen but that's not a chance I'd be willing to take.
Could you perhaps tell her that you are concerned because when your dd smells of her dog that your own dog gets upset?? I know Havoc is very upset if dd smells like a strange dog.
Another option not yet listed is that she can put an invisible fence in around her house, this way her dogs can be loose on her front yard but still not be able to get out of their own yard--as an added plus her to gardening, she can loop off her gardens to keep the dogs out of them.
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#19 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 03:50 PM
 
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I also think that you are right to be concerned. Growling is *not* a herding behaviour, it is a 'warning'. Staring you down is an assertion of dominance, also not a good thing. I totally understand your reluctance to upset a good friends, but I think you do need to speak to her. Yes, she loves her dogs dearly, but I'm sure she would be absolutely devastated if her dog was to attack and she then had to have it euthanised. Would invisible fencing be an option for the front yard?


I really hope that you feel you can address this with your friend. Sadly, my parents were in a very similar position when I was a little girl, and I ended up being attacked by a black lab. Not only was it a terrible thing for me, and for the dog, but it also damaged a friendship irrepairably...
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#20 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 05:34 PM
 
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I would feel exactly like you do in this situation! I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I do know that if either of my dogs scared anyone, I would keep the dogs away from them. I would appreciate it if a friend felt comfortable enough to come to me and tell me. OTOH, I would be apprehensive about telling a friend that I felt threatened by her pet. One of my dogs has dashed out the front door on occasion. She is the biggest sweetie ever and has never growled or shown teeth at anyone. She does bark at people though, and can look intimidating. I fear that she'll escape one day and someone will hurt her because they would think she's dangerous. Even though she is a real sweetie and wouldn't hurt anyone, I can understand how someone else could be intimidated by her.
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#21 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 07:27 PM
 
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I'm not a dog person at all, so I'm not really who you wanted to hear from here-but I do agree that you need to address this asap.

Just generally, I know that you like your neighbour and feel she's a very nice woman, but to me it's quite inconsiderate for a dog owner to simply assume that his or her dogs are welcome in all situations by all people. If she's letting them roam up and down the street, where they might intimidate other people, and poop in your yard (you said she doesn't notice, but really, she'd have to know it's a possibility!), she's just not being considerate. I have friends who are great, considerate dog owners, and they would never just assume it's ok to let them roam even if they 'know' their dog.
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#22 of 25 Old 06-09-2005, 10:51 PM
 
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mammastar makes a very good point, I too go out of my way to ensure my dog's do not bother anyone--if someone is afraid of dogs, it's my responsibility to ensure my dog's don't go near them. dog owners who do not do this, impact all dog owners negatively. The only person who has to love a dog is it's owner, otherwise it's the owners responsibity to ensure NOBODY is bothered by her dog.
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#23 of 25 Old 06-10-2005, 12:17 AM
 
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Ditto to what shannon said. OESDs do have a herding background, but it specifically leaning toward the "driving" side. Drover (driving) dogs are part herders and part guard dogs and are quite capable of driving by force if need be (growling, biting, etc). Rottweilers are also driving dogs, for what that is worth.

My local yarn store has a big border collie that tries to herd children. He gets *very* antsy around a baby/toddler in arms because he can't "get" to them. Quite a sweet guy, but my DS accidently fell over him one day and got a growl and snarl out of him. Totally DS's fault, honestly, but it was a really good reminder for me that all of the "Oh, he's a big softy, would hurt a fly!" verbage in the world isn't going to stop a dog from possibly harming my child. It can truthfully be *nobody's* fault, but still happen.

FWIW, I consider it my responsibility to maintain my child's safety. I would HOPE that others in the world would act responsibly for their own children (human or animal), but that isn't always the case. I don't think, however, that you should be made to feel unsafe or threatened in your own yard.

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#24 of 25 Old 06-10-2005, 09:56 AM
 
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Words to live by Dark Horse Mama!!! Now if we can get all the parents to behave like you and convince all the dog owners it is equally their responsibility, we may just have a shot at drastically decreasing the #'s of tragic dog bites in North America.

Bravo!
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#25 of 25 Old 06-10-2005, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am going to talk to my neighbor, but right now my mind is filled with the fact that we're going to give up my male dog, Ivan. I don't want to be a post-hog, but I may start a post about it because it is breaking my heart in a million and some pieces, and I don't know how I'm going to get through.
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