Oh my goodness. This afternoon I went over to my son's house to let the arborist, Luis, into the backyard so he could work on a tree that's threatening to remove the roofing shingles. It's really hard for me to get the back gate open so I invited him to come through the house.
My son's golden retriever, Charley -- who's about as mellow as a mushroom on a log (not THAT kind of mushroom, either!) -- started to bark angrily the minute Luis set foot in the door. Luis had already indicated that he wasn't very comfortable around dogs, but I told him Charley was laid-back and friendly.
Believe it or not, this giant cream puff actually SNAPPED at Luis.
You couldn't find a nicer man than Luis if you mounted a global search. He's about as benign as they come, an old-country gentleman. But apparently Charley didn't think so. I had to drag Charley into a bedroom and shut him in, so as to get Luis into the backyard.
That was WEIRD. Have you ever had a dog that's totally laid back do that? I had a German shepherd once who recognized when a stranger meant us no good -- that animal was quite the judge of human character -- but I don't think that's the case here. In the first place, I do not think Luis is secretly an ax murderer. And in the second place, Greta the GerShep had a measurable IQ. This dog...not so much.
Greta was never wrong about people -- never. And yes, she did go ballistic when the cat burglar got in the house that one night. But unless there's something I don't know about Luis, he's not the sort she would have desired to eviscerate.
Some folks have remarked that their corgis can be prickly with strangers. Not so with Cassie the Corgi and Ruby the Corgi Pup. The pup's response to strangers is exactly the same as Cassie's: if you stand upright on two legs, they want to love you into submission. Neither has ever growled or barked angrily at a new person, much less threatened to remove his hand.
What on earth? Have you ever had a dog appear to threaten someone you invited into the house? If so, what did you do about it?
I actually believe that Wynn can either judge people's character or at least certainly knows when something is "not right". I have taken with me when meeting someone to see what his reaction is toward them. Wynn has had this since he was a few months old. We were at a Renaissance Festival with a few thousand people and Wynn was enjoying the people and the food dropped on the ground. All of a sudden this man comes running through the crowd and Wynn carries on like I had never seen him before with barking and growling. My 2 thoughts (after he had settled down and I had time to think) were either the man had some mental illness problems or he had stolen something and was running. To this day if I can I will bring Wynn with me to meet new people (if appropriate) as I trust his judgement. Could it be that the man was so scared of dogs that the dog picked up on that???
Now Sage(his daughter) would love anyone as long as they pet her...she evidently didn't inherit that gene!
It probably looked strange to him to see one person running while everyone else was loafing around. And yeah...he could have been running off with someone's purse.
I do believe some dogs can assess humans to some degree. What the criteria are escapes me, but there's no question they're doing something along those lines. But it's odd that some dogs seem to do that and some don't.
Had another GerShep -- Anna -- who was normally very calm about humans. I would take her to a popular outdoor coffee patio attached to a local gourmet market, so as to sit around and socialize. There was one guy who was a regular there -- he apparently worked in a nearby office building. He would park in the lot and walk into the grocery store, I imagine to grab lunch and take it back to work. She could see that man coming from clear across the parking lot. The instant she caught sight or scent of him, she would start in...and I'll tell ya, when a German shepherd expresses its dislike of someone, it's a disturbing spectacle. He looked like any other normal businessman to me -- in no way stood out from the crowd. What on earth set her off about this guy, I can't imagine.
Nor can I imagine what about Luis set Charley off. Dogs are weird.
But when you think of it GSD's and Corgis are in the same dog group...thus having some of the same traits and smarts...I always tease my girlfriend that my dog doesn't need to be BIG to do what her dog (GS)does...they were bred to know things that we don't and to let us know when something isn't quite right...Sage had so much training when young that I think doesn't go by her instincts as much as Wynn.
IMHO today's corgis are very much like yesterday's (or...the day-before-yesterday's) German shepherds: smart, wise, kindly, and intelligently protective of the sheeple.
German shepherds have been overbred -- or maybe the word is just "stupidly" bred -- to the point where many of them are dangerous, particularly if they come out of American lines. Anna was so dog-aversive that over time I couldn't take her anyplace where people were likely to have dogs (such as a public park). Some Gersheps today are highly unpredictable, no matter how much training they've had; and some succumb to a type of mental illness at around the age of 3, which according to one vet I spoke with appears to be a genetic thing.
So far, that hasn't happened with corgis. And because most people think of them as "cute" rather than "ferocious," as they become more popular we're more likely to see other kinds of problems bred into them.
It would be best, though, if they didn't become popular. We should all tell everyone who comes up to coo over them that they're stubborn, stupid, obnoxious and poop all over the bed. ;-) Oh, yeah: and we're being sued just because the dog beheaded some kid. Then maybe the breed will never degenerate in the way German shepherds, pit bulls, setters, and collies have. There's nothing like popularity to ruin a good thing.
I have heard that dogs don't generalize very well and they can be, for lack of a better word, biased against groups of people they haven't met.
Could the golden be a bit.... er... racist?
Hmmm.... I doubt it. My friend Luz, who works as a house cleaner, has been at Son's house a couple of times without incident, and Gerardo the Wonder Yard Dude shows up over there every now and again.
I suspect the problem may have been that Luis at heart dislikes or fears dogs. Some dogs can sense hostility or fear in people.
There are dogs, though, that do seem to discriminate by race or ethnicity. They're probably trained that way, either deliberately or unconsciously, by humans who themselves are racist. My son has a large set of friends and so it's unlikely that Charley would be socialized to be hostile to any one set among them.
A friend's German Shepard would bark at the "bad guys" on tv. After he bit the neighbor, my friend got a trainer and found out that the dog didn't like black people or cargo pants. The first training session involved training the dog to let the trainer into the house. My friends are about as welcoming and generous people as can be. So, yes, the golden may be racist.
Way back when I was still in middle school, my mother brought home our first (and only) family dog. She was a sweet mutt that was about the size of a german shepherd, but built like a greyhound and covered in shaggy fur that reminded me of a scruffy-looking teddy bear. She was the sweetest of dogs and loved everyone. However, an ex-uncle came around one day when my mother and I were home alone, trying to weasel out some information about my aunt (his ex-wife). He had been over to the house once before without incident, but on this day our dog starting barking and snarling the moment she caught sight of him. It was serious enough where we had to hold her back and even then she was straining to get at him.
Did our dog pick up on some negative vibe he was giving off, or did she respond to our own discomfort? I certainly don't know. My mother and I both remarked, after he left, that we had that hair-on-end feeling the whole time he was at our house. We didn't correct her behavior and she never acted that way again, even when complete strangers came visiting, so it was something about him in particular that set her off. Regardless, we were quite happy that her obvious dislike for him encouraged him to beat a hasty retreat not 3 minutes after he arrived.
Maybe the gardener had an odd smell on him? I've known a dog (owned by a friend) who would go bananas whenever he smelled a particular scent on men, but he had a rather nasty owner before my friend managed to rescue him. Or maybe Luis' discomfort with dogs was picked up by Charley and it set him off? It'd be interesting to see how Charley would react to just seeing Luis out the window now.
Was there anything unique about the man's appearance or smell- what was he wearing - what did he look like - meaning perhaps a beard or mustache or a hat - different clothing - tattoos - was he of an ethnic background-race different than yours- did he have a strong smelling cologne. Certainly, the man's fear of dogs played a role - but there was perhaps some other visual and scent cue that your not recognizing.
I remember one of my first trainers telling us a story about her absolutely wonderful smart well trained obedience dog- going into a show ring one day for a competition - with half walls around the ring- and people were standing on the other side and the dog went into the ring and went crazy - completely out of control- and completely out of character. She was flabbergasted - until they finally realized the issue - the dog had never seen "half-people" before- only the top half of everyone was showing over the wall. Totally freaked the dog out. We all got a good belly laugh out of the story - but it really has stuck with me over the years. Puts into perspective the value of extensive socialization - even to things we never think about -and remembering to look at the world through my pooch's eyes for an explanation for things.
As for Charley -you need to determine the trigger - and perhaps the man was just oozing with fear that Charley was reacting to- or perhaps he is just a lot more serious about guarding his turf and your son was not there. In any event, your son needs to work hard to break the trigger cycle - by determine the trigger(s) and finding a way to exposure him to the same trigger - until Charley gets adjusted to it. Dog bites are bad for the person being bit - but the dog is always the ultimate looser.
LOL! Now that is an interesting story!
My guess is that Luis is afraid of dogs -- he's probably been bitten before, given the kind of work he does. Or he may have been bitten as a child. He's clean and neat, does not wear noticeable perfumes. He's Mexican...but the place is crawling with Mexicans. The Mexican lady who cleaned my house while I was sick also did my son's house a couple of times, to his delight, and Charley has been here when she visited, too. No ill effects there. And my yard dude, the ineffable Gerardo, shows up at my son's place now and again, without causing any doggy suspicion. I'll bet the issue was Luis must have been emanating fear pheromones.