A Korean show “TV Animal Farm” showed a weary family because of the aggressiveness of their dog towards their 16-month-old daughter, Sienna. The 4-year-old half-breed dog, Tobby appears as if it had two personalities: a cheerful and gentle dog to everyone including strangers and kids; a fierce dog which always growls or barks at Sienna when she is around. Although Tobby responds to Sienna when she calls it, it will start growling as it approaches Sienna, and following her while growling. Luckily, Tobby have not bitten Sienna before. Tobby also showed a strong jealousy when Sienna is playing with her daddy, Jamie.
A companion-dog etiquette educator* visited Sienna’s family and figured the reason behind the misbehavior of Tobby. Tobby was threatening Sienna—growling because it perceived as it has a higher rank in the family than Sienna. The reason behind the confusion of this hierarchy order was because the owner of Tobby, Jamie greets Tobby first when he came back from work. From Jamie’s point of view, he was greeting Tobby first because it greeted him first, where Sienna greeted him after Tobby did. It seems that Tobby and Sienna is in the same rank in Jamie’s mind, and the thought has been creating the tension of the family. As Jamie greeted Sienna first when he came back home, and after few trials of operant conditioning to view Sienna as a pleasing person, Tobby showed less aggressiveness towards Sienna.
In Chinese philosophy, there is a great debate whether humans are kind or evil in nature. Despite of the nature, the environment an individual grew up shapes her personality and behavior. I believe the same applies to the animals. Nowadays, many of the people perceive their pets as companion of life. Somehow, the importance of pet and human has become equal, and this was the reason of misbehavior in Tobby. If Jamie thought that Sienna was more important, he would have greeted Sienna first despite of who greeted him first, won’t him? Studies by Unshelm (1997) highlights that dog management of the owner has a clear impact on dogs bahavior. Thus, rearing an obedient and nice dog is a responsibility of the owners and not that the dogs should be born with pleasing traits. It is not wrong to love pets, but we have to be aware that as pets become more and more important in human world, the significance of human to care for each other in the community might become more and more less important. This trend can be due to the chaotic society where humans find no hope and no one to trust, but I still think that although dogs can be close friend of humans, humans should and would gain more effective help from humans. Are dogs as important as humans? Though dogs can be loyal friends of humans, humans are of utmost importance in the whole ecology, because humans shape the world. And to be frank, dogs especially the pets are products of sophisticated technology and science.
*Companion-Dog Etiquette Educator: (In Korea) A profession usually attended by veterinarians to educate etiquette’s of dogs. This profession also helps the owners to understand their dogs.
** Companion-Dog: The perception towards pet dogs have changed in Korea recently. Pet dogs were previously called 애완견 (愛玩犬), meaning a dog you love such that you want to play with it and stay together. But nowadays, there are called 반려견 (伴侶犬), meaning a dog like a close friend of life, a companion of life. This shows that the view of Korean society regarding dogs have changed: from thinking the dogs are toys and an object to please ownself, to thinking that dogs are very important in daily life and thus adding humane trait to it–communicate with it and view it as a close friend.
“TV Animal Farm-Tobby-SBS” by SBS. Tudou 04 April 2010. URL:http://so.tudou.com/isearch/%E5%8A%A8%E7%89%A9%E5%86%9C%E5%9C%BA%20100404/
A. Roll, J. Unshelm, 1997. Aggressive conflicts amongst dogs and factors
affecting them. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 52: 229-242.