Don’t Judge a Dog By Its Muzzle

Sunde White illustrates her essay about not judging muzzled dogs

I might just be scared.

Sometimes, when I walk by a barking dog waiting outside a grocery store, I’ll stop and keep him or her company until the owner comes out.   It calms the dog’s anxiety down and allows the owner to shop in peace without worrying about annoying everyone in the neighborhood with their barking dog.

A couple of years ago I kept a dog company that happened to have a muzzle on.  Even though he was muzzled, I wasn’t nervous about approaching him because his body language was friendly.  He wagged and did a little bow to me when I said hello in dog baby talk and extended my hand.  I stroked his head and he wagged his whole tail and butt as an answer.  I checked his name tag and for the next few minutes I scratched and chatted with Raul until his owner came out.

“Oh!  I was wondering why he stopped barking, thanks.”  Said Raul’s guardian.

“Oh sure, I used to have a dog that always barked outside of stores so I figured I’d sit with him so you could shop in peace.  I was wondering though,”  I went on, “if you don’t mind me asking, why does he have a muzzle?  I’ve never seen a retriever with a muzzle and he’s so friendly.”

The woman laughed. “Oh god, he eats everything off the street that he finds.”  She said.  “He’s like a vacuum cleaner, just sucks it right up and then is sick for two days after.  He’s grabs stuff so fast I can’t catch him in time, so finally I had to give up and muzzle him on walks.”

We laughed about him and both shook our heads.  Dogs.

People usually give muzzled dogs a wide berth and avoid eye contact but I don’t.  It’s none of my business if a dog has a muzzle on and frankly, if you’re scared of dogs, the very best time to be near a dog is when it’s muzzled, when you think about it.

The reasons for the muzzling are between the dog and his or her guardian.  It could be that they haven’t been socialized or they just don’t like fellow dogs or are scared from past traumas.  They could be like my Jasmine and have developed bad play habits like holding dogs by their collars because they think it’s funny.  Or they could be like Raul and they just like to eat every leaf, chicken bone and piece of chewing gum they can grab every time they’re outside.

You know what I think of when I see a muzzled dog?  I think that dog is deeply loved and thoughtfully cared for and that the dog is trying to be the very best doggo they can be!

Always adopt don’t shop please!



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