Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pulling a beagle up by the ears and other things you don't do to dogs

People do stupid things to pets. Then they let it be documented visually, then are shocked when people get upset about what they did.

I'm talking, of course, about this.

Johnson says it was common to pick a beagle up by the ears. My breeder friend disagrees.
Courtesy Presidential Pet Museum.
In 1964, Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States, caused a stir when a picture appeared in Life Magazine of LBJ picking up one of his beloved beagles by the ears.

There was an outcry from dog lovers, though some beagle experts did stick up for the president, saying it was a common practice among hunters. Johnson apologized but also said, "I've been pulling Him's [the dog's name was Him] ears since he was a pup, and he always seemed to like it."  (Information courtesy of Presidential Pet Museum)

I asked Lori Norman, an AKC-reputable beagle breeder in South Florida about whether it was ok to pull a beagle up by the ears, or even common practice.

"NO! They should never be pulled up by the ears! Besides being extremely uncomfortable it can be harmful to the ear! They aren't meant to bear the full weight of the dog," Norman said.

Him and Her tragically did not see life after the White House.
Courtesy Presidential Pet Museum.
By all accounts, Him and Her (that's their names) were beloved dogs. Johnson was not a bad dog owner.

But he had some crazy notions of what a dog thinks is ok. He's not alone in that.

When we see pictures like this:

Also, don't let your child alone with a dog.
Letting a baby pull on a dog's lip is a good way for the baby to get bitten.
Or this:

No dog is meant to be ridden.
Dogs are not meant to be ridden, even for the marketing of a product.

Or this:
Ellen DeGeneres got some flack for this picture of her kid standing on her dog
Or this:
Dogs are not meant to be stepped on, even a service dog.
Some get justifiably upset for the dog. But what worries me more are the people who say "oh, but the dog is letting it happen, so they are ok with it!"

It may look cute when a child steps on a dog to reach something.

And when a celebrity posts the pictures, you have dozens of people who think it's cute and ok so they let their kids do it too -- to get those cute pics, of course.

But while the dog might tolerate it a few times, it won't be long before the dog has had enough.

"Ask yourself what would happen if someone did that to you. It is usually the same for a dog," Norman said.

It only takes one moment. The kid steps in the wrong spot or grabs the wrong piece of face or the president grabs the ear the wrong way. The dog gets hurt. Or worse, the dog turns and does what anyone does when they don't want to get hurt. They defend themselves.

They bite.


  1. Dogs may tolerate pain for those they love--many dogs sense to be gentle with children, which could be one explanation why a dog wouldn't risk moving and causing the child to fall. Weight on a dog's back may injure his spine, especially an older dog.

    1. And by saying they may tolerate the pain, I don't mean to condone the action. A dog should not have to be put in the position of pain like this.

    2. No, I understand. But it is rather like playing with a jack-in-the-box.

  2. Like Peggy said - My biggest issue with these photos is that kids (and adults for that matter) may think that this is an okay way to treat an animal. Just because a pet may tolerate the action doesn't mean it is okay at all. Luna tolerates it when I do things that make her uncomfortable (though I would never stand on her or pull her ears!) like when I put her PAWZ on this morning to go walk on the icy and salty sidewalk, but I think a lot of that is because of our relationship and trust. I don't know if she would tolerate strangers doing that.

    On a different note, my grandparents were offered to adopt one of Him's puppies but decided not to! While I respect their decision, I could have had a presidential pup in my family!

    1. Really? Awwww man that would have been so awesome!

  3. This is really sad ..how we humans badly treat with dogs..!!! shameful!!

  4. Very well stated. And, sadly for the dogs, when they are pushed to the limit... they get blamed, not the kids standing on them.

  5. Very well said. And it's the dog who pays the price in the end, not the humans.


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