This morning I took my English Bulldog on an hour and a half walk before I started work, we stopped so I could get a coffee and it was during this five minute stop that something struck me. My dog and I were sat down outside waiting for my drink, she was sat in front of me looking up whilst I chatted to her, even though she is deaf. To the left of us on the pavement was a father walking with his young daughter, probably around 5yrs old. As they walked past she looked over and then swapped to her dad's other side to hold his hand and said 'Daddy, is that one of those bad dogs that do bad things?'.
I'm quite used to people crossing the street or avoiding my dog and I when we are walking, I've even had a woman on the bus ask me to get off. I refused but still, she did try! What worries me most about a five year old child asking their parent about a dog because of the way it looks, is that how can children be expected to understand that we shouldn't be judging people on the way they look but it is ok to do this in other areas of our lives.
For me, although it is not exactly the same, it has a similar undercurrent that we are teaching people in society that you can judge a dog purely by the way that it looks. Yet we are positively and actively trying to teach society that this isn't the case when it comes to another species, humans. It just doesn't compute, it doesn't make any sense to me.
I'm not sure it can work to teach children that you shouldn't be racist and judge someone on the colour of their skin, the way they look or because of their ethnicity but it is absolutely fine to outlaw certain dogs due to the colour of their fur, the shape of their eyes or the way their face appears, surely its the same thing but just acceptable because once upon a time, a breed of dog was used for something that humans asked them to do e.g. dog fight. If we are using that basis of rationale then surely it is similar to judging a nation on previous behaviours from many, many years ago? We appear to be confused in my mind.
In exactly the same way that a person should not be judged on their appearance we should offer the same to breeds of dogs. Teaching our children that a particular look of a dog is a signal of bad character is murky water when actually we should be teaching our children to look at other factors before making any judgement.
In my line of work and many others who do the same job, I'm sure all of them would report that on simply looking at a photograph of a breed of dog, you cannot judge it. It is why when I go to see owners who have a dog with an issue, I have to do a preliminary session to find out their dog's story, as each dog is different and their path in life will be different to another dogs. So for me judging a dog by the way it looks is the same as judging a human because of the way they look. Strange and not acceptable.