The other day I had breakfast with a friend, the partner of a very dear friend who has been so swamped in work lately that none of us have gotten together.

Friend told me that one of their two dogs, a cute, aging wire-haired dachshund, had died, and that she was pining away without "Hansy." She wanted to get another rescue dog, preferably of the same breed, because she believes that their other dog ("Sammy")  was having behavioral problems because he missed Hansy.

I refrained from saying "Give me a BREAK! Sammy has behavioral problems because he's an obnoxious out-of-control working dog that should not be living in a household with two career women who don't have enough time for him."

Sammy is a standard dachshund.

Sammy needs to live on a farm, where he can dig up moles and badgers and where he can go a-hunting with the master. Sammy does not need to live with a psychiatric nurse practitioner and an associate professor going up for full.

Sammy really is not a city dog and never will be a city dog.

He dislikes other dogs. And he bites.

I stopped taking Cassie over to their house a couple of years ago, after Sammy expressed his craving to remove her head.

But recently he's extended his aggression to their grandson, a smallish third-grader who spends a fair amount of time at their house. Sammy was his friend, but lately he's bitten the boy twice. My friend thinks this is a manifestation of doggy grief, since it began after they had to put Hansy down.

Moi, I would not have this dog. At least, not without a ranch for him to live on. But some things are none of my business. Consequently, I've held what passes for my peace.

So at breakfast, she tells me she's looking for another dog and I say nothing. Now today she posts on Facebook, with obvious delight, that she's obtained a cute little mutt from a local rescue.

I think what she's obtained is a recipe for a dog fight and a very large vet bill, if not a dead canine intruder.

My social skills are very poor. This is why I happen to prefer the company of dogs to that of humans.

So...I don't know if should say anything to her. And if I should, what I should say, and how.

Would you say anything? If so, what?

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I would suggest she have the dogs meet before bringing it home.
Sounds harsh, but I would consider calling child services since no adults seem to be protecting this child, and the dog for that matter, from a tragic incident.

They ARE CPS's recourse, and they're the only people who have protected the boy. The poor child is the offspring of two drug addicts. My friends had full custody of him for a several years, until the mother got out of rehab and managed to land and hold down a job. The kid is living with the mother now, but they schlep him back and forth to school and spend a lot of time with him.

The first time I met this child, he thought he was a dog. Literally. The mother, who was living with her mother (a former partner of Friend described above), had neglected the kid so badly that he was essentially socialized by the two large dogs that occupied the house with them. He would try to interact with you the same way dogs do.

Today the child is healthy, has had speech therapy to learn to speak normally, seems overall bright and happy, and is doing well in school.

We do seem to have a bit of a blind spot about the dog, though...

Sometimes you can't tell people anything! It is hard to believe she would not be more protective of her Grandson......

I'm with Bev....I don't understand why she isn't more worried about a full out attack on her grandson.  Every one goes bonkers over a bully breed around kids but they don't realize that an aggressive doxie or even a chi can do an awful number on a small child.

It's worrisome. The dog has attempted to bite me, but fortunately I had on heavy jeans & I guess my reaction was such that he stood down. My friend's back was turned at the time and I don't believe she saw this incident.


So I gather you think it would be reasonable for me to mention that the dachshund could be a threat to the new dog, to say nothing of the child? From what she's saying, it sounds like Sammy's behavior has grown more aggressive over the past few weeks. This is not a small dachshund. He's at least the size of a beagle. But I don't want to say something that's out of line. Possibly I exaggerate the degree of risk. I don't want to sound unkind...or crazy.

Its so frustrating when seemingly intelligent people are not so intelligent when it comes to their dogs.  I have very little patients for this sort of thing.  I tend to just stay away, because I can't stand to see the mistreatment, or bad decisions, or abuse, or whatever the case may be.  But other times, I just can't keep quiet.  If it is really as bad as you describe, this is probably how it would go for me ....  "Are you crazy???  You want to bring another dog in here when this dog is having aggression issues?  I think that is a really bad idea.  Its bitten your grandson for god sake.   I hope you never leave them unattended, even for a second.  It wouldn't be fair to the new dog."  Then I would expect the friendship to diminish, but it wouldn't really matter.  I'd have a very hard time maintaining a friendship with them anyway because it would be too hard for me to watch the results of their decisions. 

It's strange, how people behave. Some folks seem to actively work at making trouble for themselves. I'll bring the subject up the first opportunity that comes along. The risk to both the new doggy and the child just seems too high to let it rest...

I grew up with a dachshund.   That's why I never wanted a dog and it took my wife 2 years to talk me into it.

True, we were not good dog owners, but dachshunds seem to be a challenging breed.

Even a small dog can do tremendous damage, as my uncle found out when our dachshund got into a leghold trap and he got deep puncture wounds in his hand during the extrication.

I'd advise thinking carefully about the message you want to deliver, and say it.  Straightforwardly delivering a difficult message can be scary, but it's also an expression of true friendship and love -- an implicit part of the message is, "I know this is diffuclt, but I care enough about you to talk about this..." (making it explicit mgiht be a good idea).  The alternative is to "gunnysack" it:  put those resentments/problems into that gunnysack full of unspoken stuff that you carry over your shoulder until it becomes too heavy to carry, and spills all over the place making a huge mess of undealt-with problems all at once.

If this friend is so dedicated to the idea that these troubles are due to grief, maybe use that in your reply. "Oh dear, Sammy does seem to be experiencing grief over Hansy's passing. It may take some time for him to deal with it. Maybe some training classes would give him something to do to redirect that negative energy and teach him how to interact with the new dog, whom he may resent taking Hansy's place. And he will surely need more time with the rest of his pack-- you two-- to make him feel secure… I know you don't want him biting your grandson and learning how to redirect that energy is essential for the boy's safety…" etc. Does her partner agree that Sammy's behavior is acceptable? She may be in the same boat as you and afraid to speak up herself. Maybe try to get her on your side if she is fed up with it, too.  And re: CPS --- just because they took the child in does not mean that a call cannot or should not be made on them. They are not protecting that child from danger. I hope no blood is shed --- literally and figuratively.

Me, too, in the hope department. As Beth points out, no one takes kindly to comments that might be criticism or dismissive. The partner is a very strong women -- they both are. I don't know what she thinks about Sammy, other than that she doesn't seem to register dismay. I refrain from commenting on other people's pets...if I think they're a danger to my dogs, I keep mine away.

I agree with Chris's general approach.  No one wants to hear a lecture on how they aren't doing a good job.  People respond better when it sounds like you are concerned about them and have some sort of foundation of agreement to start from.  No one responds well when their plan is dismissed out-of-hand.

People, like dogs, respond better to positive reinforcement than criticism.  :-)


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