Yesterday Dogster had a posting about a Dear Abby letter concerning a child that had rode a family dog like a horse and now the dog possibly has life long injuries. It is a sad story, the parents had let their son's friend come over to play, the friend didn't have a dog, he was excited by the family's lab. The next thing the father knows he hears the friend say "Look, I'm riding your dog!" He of course rushed in the room, but it was too late, he was already riding the lab around. Though the father stopped it then, the days after proved to be very painful for the dog and he was unable to make it down the stairs in their house. Three weeks of pain medication later, the dog is still getting worse and they now need X-rays or a MRI to find out what injury actually exists.
When I say this is a sad story, I mean all around sad. It is most sad that a healthy lab went from being fine to being crippled in a matter a seconds because a bad decision. Of course the little 9-year-old boy had no idea what he was doing, he was just having fun, but very sad that this wasn't prevented. It is sad that no rules were ever set with the children to say this would not be an acceptable way to play with a dog.
Kids are kids, they need parents, guardians, adults or someone of authority to tell them right from wrong and when it comes to pets it all needs to be spelled out. I understand from a child's perspective how it might be appealing to ride a dog, especially if we are talking about a giant breed, but this is just a horrible idea! I also understand how some parents might think it is cute to let their child ride their dog, do a search on Youtube and you will see what I mean. However, according to Cornell University Veterinarian Sarah Bassman: “Children riding on the back of their family dog is very dangerous for the animal, and the child, even if you have one of the giant breeds as your family pet. The muscles in a dog’s back are not strong enough and not designed to carry a passenger and could be damaged by this activity. We worry about muscle sprain and strain, vertebral subluxation, and disc-related problems. Lesser sprains and strains may need to be treated with pain medications or physical therapy while serious spinal injuries could lead to paralysis which may or may not be able to be surgically repaired.”
I hope you all have a chance to check out Dogster's original post, it is listed below. But more than anything, I hope you all take away something from this story and are able to protect your dogs from a tragic mistake like this. If you allow children to interact with your dog, just make sure the rules of play are well spelled out, as clearly as possible, the difference between good play and bad play.
To view the Dogster's blog and the Dear Abby Letter, bark on the link: Bark!