Photographer Joy Pariante captured a dangerous moment, not a sweet bonding cuddle, at the SafeHaven Humane Society shelter.
Just ask a dog trainer like Sharon Gakstatter, cited elsewhere in the March 21 article by Jennifer Rouse: dogs have to be trained to tolerate hugging and kissing. It is not natural for a dog and frequently leads to dog bites. For anecdotes and statistics in support of this assertion, just Google the words “dog bites kiss.”
Lucky, the dog in the picture, is showing tremendous restraint. Clutched against Cybil Stockman’s chest, the dog brings its lips and free ear back as daughter Faye reaches up for a kiss, staring into the dog’s widening eyes.
I hope Lucky got adopted, and I hope the Stockmans got some coaching on preventing dog bites.
I wish the paper had included some cautionary language in the caption of the photo, rather than blithely calling a near tragedy “bonding.” The people may be bonding, but the dog is being tested close to the limits of its bite inhibition.
Edith Agoff, Corvallis
Editor’s note: Although there always is a danger of moving your face too close to any dog, this particular Chihuahua, Lucky, had been enthusiastically “kissing” the family members’ faces long before the photo was taken and had passed all of SafeHaven Humane Society’s behavior tests.