The parents of a six-day-old baby girl thought to have been killed by the family dog have said they will âcherish the little timeâ they had with her.
So my friend received a delightful empty email that contained only a weblink to a BBC news story of an Alaskan Malamute mauling a newborn baby. I’ll go into the details as to why he was sent that later, but anyway, this horrific story went viral. The media went all over it, saying how it’s a tragic loss (which of course, it is) and how the the family need respect during this time (irrespective that the media seem to have lambasted this dog like there’s no tomorrow. However, I want to highlight the point that the mauling is still suspected… It has not been outwardly proven. The mother was overheard by the neighbour shouting ‘THE DOG ATE MY BABY’S HEAD!’ which so kindly got printed on the front page of the insensitive newspaper The Sun, and subsequently got pulled from the shelves in the village the family resides in. The police are keeping quiet, and the dog is being detained.
Now here’s mostly where my beef resides: I’m an owner of a snow dog. I own a beautiful 2 year old husky and I’ve got to say, I’ve never owned a dog like it. Their brains are just next level. The press have likened the Alaskan Malamute in this story to the husky, which I totally get, I understand that, but it’s also caused a rather large knock-on effect.
Given that there has been absolutely NO PROOF whatsoever that this dog has mauled a baby, nor have the media been told or released information as to how the dog got to the baby in the first place (if it did kill the child) and what the hell were the parents thinking for that to even happen? Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies everywhere now have a pretty shitty reputation. It doesn’t help that these beautiful dogs have a particularly wolf-like ‘scary’ appearance. They also play rough and can look more vicious than what they actually are — these dogs are renowned for not having a vicious bone in their body unless threatened. They are not guard dogs and they are the sort of dogs that copy human or other dog behaviour — e.g. if they see you opened the door with a handle, they are smart enough to copy that. So if they constantly saw the mother picking up the baby when it cried (or showed distress), I wouldn’t be too surprised if the dog tried to pick the baby up with its mouth in the same way it would its puppies.
Irrespective of what breed of dog you have, anyone with a brain cell would know not to leave a baby with a dog. Simples. A dog is a creature, as much as we love the fact they are part of our families and we call them our ‘babies’ and treat them like they’re human; they are, very much, wolf creatures. Malamutes and Huskies are closely related to the wolf — well, all dogs are, but these breeds in particular are especially driven by the pack-like mentality and are extremely wilful. They are incredible with humans, their natural gentleness with people is what makes them such beautiful dogs to have within the family. When a Malamute or Husky is happy within the home, they are very calm and quiet and often wish for a degree of independence from humans. For example, if you were all sitting in the living room by the fire keeping warm, the dog would prefer to be outside in the cool air curled up in a tiny ball. They do however, absolutely hate being apart from the pack. They know when you’ve left home, and within seconds they immediately suffer from severe separation anxiety. This can lead to bizarre behaviour such as defecting within the home (trust me, I’ve been down that line with my own dog and found her going a bit nuts), digging, howling, tearing things apart, etc. (NOT aggression though). Leaving the radio on is not the same. Leaving them with a tiny human that can’t interact with them or even acknowledge their existence, is not the same (although they don’t become aggressive and nor will they attempt to kill it). They need to be with other dogs or humans. They also prefer confined spaces — for example, my dog absolutely doesn’t care where you go if she sleeps in the car. She knows you always return, so she chills out. The house on the other hand seems to be another kettle of fish entirely. She will be quiet at first, then begin to howl and get very upset, but then settle down again and sleep — as she’s gotten older, she’s began to understand we always come back home and we do not abandon her. If she had a background of abuse and abandonment, I would never dream of leaving her alone for hours on end, and would let her go through that process over a long period of time (and however long she needs). In relation to the Malamute within the news story, there have been reports that the dog was previously abused and bought during a deal made in the local pub. You have no idea what this dog has been through previously, so the last thing you would think of doing is letting it anywhere near a 6 day old baby.
I’m just pretty pissed because of the amalgamation of shit that has been caused from these reports on this horrifying story. Snow dogs in general are mounting in numbers in rescue centres before a story like this even got released. The Malamute got bought in the pub because its previous owner was about to terminate it.
Malamutes and Huskies are stunning dogs and absolutely adorable puppies, people seem to miss the fundamental point that these snow dogs are super high maintenance and they need to be kept busy and working. They are so intelligent that they get bored easily, so need to be constantly stimulated. They also have ridiculous amounts of energy — they were bred to run 50 miles without food, and they can do this easily. Being kept inside a house without much access to exercise or a garden is not a snow dog lifestyle and you will end up with a pretty frustrated, distressed animal with not much furniture left. As pack animals, they are always trying to get the one up on you, battling all the time with your brain as to who’s the leader. One (or two) family member needs to be the head honcho and show them who’s boss. They need heavy structure and continuity — the leader needs to lead and lead all the time. If you give in, they’re quick to walk all over you. They are also hugely prey driven and are known for their tragic recall. They will come back when you call them, but only on their terms. That’s why you rarely see a husky or malamute off the lead, because once they get running (especially after livestock, NOT humans), they go into tunnel vision and are on a completely different planet to what you’re on. You can stand there calling until the sun goes down and you’ll be lucky to have them come back again. I speak from experience.
The thing is, people just aren’t prepared for these types of breeds. They buy them or adopt them because of their aesthetic beauty and loving kindness, but they need SO much work. That’s why so many snow dogs end up back in rescue again.
And now this.
Now my beautiful husky, thanks to the press, and whatever situation that actually happened to this poor tiny baby, is now banned from my friend seeing his sister. His sister has a year old little girl who has a wonderful but rather over-protective father, who’s been deeply committed to hating snow-dogs since a husky apparently killed a baby a year ago. All I can say is that its entirely subject to circumstance, and that a dog of any breed has no reason to kill a child unless it felt under threat or it had tried to pick it up to calm the child down like it would its own pups. But then, why would the dog be left with a child in the first place, and was it all a freak accident that happened when the parents just happened to have stepped out for 3 seconds. No one knows. I just feel so sad that the dog has no voice of its own to speak out, so we as humans need to take responsibility as dog owners, parents, people working within the judicial system and law.
It gives me a headache.