Don’t be mean around dogs. They know.

Posted: July 25, 2019 in Life
Tags: , , ,

Angry dog

Hard on the heels of the research that dogs have evolved to look up to us with longing eyes to get … well, pretty much whatever it is they want, in our household at least … there is now a fascinating set of research findings that suggest dogs can discern when humans aren’t nice people.

Long suspected, it now appears to have been proven, as you can read below.

Science Confirms That Dogs Can Recognize A Bad Person

We have long suspected this to be the case. When about ten years old, we were walking our Norfolk Terrier – Tim, after Dickens’s Tiny Tim – down the hill to Langland Beach in Mumbles, at the bottom of which was a large art deco public toilet block.

A man – nondescript, forties, seemingly harmless – struck up a conversation on the way down the hill, noting how nice the dog was.

Except he wasn’t. Nice. He snarled, and bared his teeth, and ran in circles on the end of his lead, and wouldn’t let the man near him to pat him or any such activity. He snarled and barked all down the hill.

As his owner, and a polite little boy, I was shocked, and apologetic. It was totally out of character for the dog.

At the bottom of the hill, the guy asked if I wanted to come into the toilets with him, as I probably needed to go to the toilet, right?

Norfolk TerrierOh no I didn’t. My child safety training had been excellent. As he went in, I hightailed it back up the hill dragging the poor bloody dog behind me, to collapse in tears at my mother’s feet.

Looking back, I saw the man come out of the toilet again, and cast around looking for me.

Fuck him. And thank you to the dog. He knew.

PS Did we mention we had a bird who used to walk to the front door when I was still a mile away in the car?

  1. Pat says:

    Thank God for Tiny Tim the dog – mind you your instincts were spot on too Yolly.

    My young (then) GSD also knew a bad man when she saw one on one of our walks decades ago (actually he made the skin on my back crawl – yuk!) – and although she was only vaguely polite to him as opposed to her normal ‘A stranger, how lovely, that means a new friend!!’ behaviour, meaning she sensed something. Then the blighter tried to burgle us the Sunday before Christmas at around 6 am in the pitch dark. Thanks to Ellie the dog he didn’t get in, she heard him trying the lock and raised the alarm as only a deep chested large dog can do, but she knew who he was, especially as I opened the window saying to her ‘There’s nobody there…..!!!’ (DUH!) and just looked at him – and he mumbled a lying excuse, but Ellie knew who he was, and sniffed him through the open window too. I never knew before that dogs could bear grudges, but every time she saw that man she really wanted to have at him and barked FURIOUSLY, growling too – most unlike her. He (living in the same village) tried to change his appearance – as if that would fool a dog! He could walk past the house on the other side of the road with a hood up, the (double glazed) windows would be closed and she could identify him from all the other people who walked past – she knew him and he was number one on her list of bad men!

    To everyone else she was love incarnate – but no-one was harming her family (especially including her adored cats!).


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      Great story!


    • underwriiter505 says:

      Wonderful Ellie! I probably wouldn’t call it holding a grudge, so much as she’d smell the same evil each time she encountered him. No one likes that, and she certainly wouldn’t!


      • Pat says:

        Thank you Underwriiter for your kind remarks about Ellie – she really was a wonder-dog – except when she was being naughty of course! With increased intelligence comes the ability to make your own decisions and do things that your human parents wouldn’t like – like the time before we had food recycling, and I had bought some kippers and carefully removed the fish from the bones, fed her the fish and put the bones in the bin bag [neatly tied up, for safety]. Ellie left the room and I listened to hear her drinking water [as my legs weren’t too good, and they still aren’t either!] but no sound was heard. Mystified, I got up and followed her to find her chest deep in the bin bag, the bones from the kipper happily in her tummy – and all having been completed without the least sound. The most impressive thing (apart from her digesting the fish bones with nary a problem) was that she had silently and speedily untied the tight knot in the bin bag with her teeth – leaving not a trace of saliva or a frayed edge as a clue. Wonder-dog indeed! I miss her so, and the love she had for everyone (except the would-be burglar!).


  2. James says:

    Since you were a mile away, the bird undoubtedly knew that it had time to walk to the door. Were you 100 yards from home, it probably would have flown to the door.


  3. underwriiter505 says:

    I think all domesticated animals are good at this, just as humans get good at reading the signals of bosses. I’ve always had cats (no longer for oxygen reasons, alas) and once knew a person who had MPD. Another friend commented tome that one could recognize if a personality transfer was happening by a short series of rapid eye blinks … but one could also watch the cats, if one or more was around. That experience really brought it home to me how good they are at it.


  4. Pat says:

    I also had a cat (whose life I had saved as a tiny kitten when she was dying of cat flu) who as a healthy adult used to know when I was coming home and go and wait by the door to greet me, just like your bird Yolly. I think if we are attuned to the kindness and goodness in animals, then (particularly if we bring the animal up from a young age) then they are attuned to us too. Animals bring so much joy, colour and compassion into our lives, if we only let them.


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