Barking Blondes: RIP Lennox, agression training and DeedNOTBreed
Lennox, the Joan Of Arc of the dog world, was humanely put to sleep in Belfast this week. Being bull breed owners ourselves, we had been following his plight since he had been placed on death row two years ago. Whereas our dogs, Molly and Matilda, one a miniature bull terrier the other a British bull dog, receive a lot of positive attention, Lennox was seen as a danger.
Resembling an American pit bull terrier, he was considered, by Belfast City Council, to be “one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs they had ever come across”. He had the look of a banned dog – the pit bull. His family fought to save him along with thousands of petitioners. The dog world can often be seen as cliquey and bitchy (in every sense) but Lennox united many of them in an appeal against his death.
The controversial dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, added his weight to the cause along with his female counterpart, Victoria Stilwell – both offered to train or adopt Lennox. These two TV personalities live in The United States, where the breed is not generally banned. In fact Cesar’s pit bull, Daddy, was loved throughout the world and used as an example of a well-balanced, obedient, domesticated pet. Cesar says “a pit bull is simply a dog in a pit bull costume”
American celebrities such as Jessica Biel and Linda Blair own pit bulls and Teddy Roosevelt favored the breed above all others. In this country, all of the above mentioned dogs would be banned. A dog type is not a breed .The dog is banned purely from what it looks like.
Can you imagine this in the human world? Discrimination on appearance?
Those who fought for Lennox’s survival, argued that any dog can be dangerous. They all have teeth. They all have moods. They can all get stroppy over a bone.
On Tuesday, we were over at the local tennis courts with our two when Matilda went lolloping off to sniff out the abandoned tennis balls. After a couple of minutes of searching we were aghast to see the sight of her being fed bourbons from the hand of a toddler whilst the mother looked on. Apart from the risk of chocolate poisoning to our dog, the child had placed herself in danger from the docile, chubby mutt. Matilda will grab food from any outstretched hand and if a finger is in the way… help.
American pit bulls were bred to bring down pigs… docile little Molly and Matilda’s breeds were bred to bait bears and then bulls. Of these three breeds, two can play in London parks, the other can’t.
Lennox’s death, hopefully, will continue the discussion over owner and breeder (breed?) responsibility.
Dog lovers are fighting for the term DeedNOTBreed to be approved so that any dog, no matter what it looks like, will be penalized for misbehaving, but really, it is the owners who will be prosecuted, as a dog is only as good as its owner. And the responsibility for a dog lies with the human at the end of the lead.
Finally, one of us was mugged on a London street at 2am last Thursday morning. Neither of the dogs were present. Would either of them have sprung at the muggers in our defence? Probably not. Why? Because this type of aggression has been trained out of them. You can teach old dogs new tricks. Lennox, unfortunately, won’t be one of them. Who is protecting whom in this debate?
Barking at the Moon, Thursdays, 10pm-midnight on BBC London 94.9fmTagged in: American Pit bull, banned, barking at the moon, bbc, Belfast, British Bull dog, Cesar Millan, Council, dangerous dogs, DeedNOTBreed, dogs, Jessica Biel, lennox the dog, Linda Blair, pit bull, Teddy Roosevelt
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