Mel's Most Misbehaved Mutts - Six Dog Breeds that Mailmen Must Avoid
A Smile on a Dog Can Be Deceiving
Stay away from these ferocious fanged beasts!
There is a song by a long forgotten singer Edie Brickell that says "Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box, Religion is the smile on a dog." I have spent untold sleepless hours puzzling over these words, but after 20 years of carrying mail and seeing the smug canine smiles on dogs as they contemplate dining upon my softer portions, I think I understand the lyrics now. Religion to the canine set consists of eating letter carriers, and that is why they sometimes smile when they see us passing by, simple as that. Of course, dogs no longer smile at me anymore. I'm too old and stringy.
May 19-25th is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and in honor of this festive occasion commemorating our furry friends I have created a small, Letterman style list of dog breeds that have given me problems throughout the years. If you carry mail I am sure your list is different in some places, but I hope you enjoy my personal anecdotes about these dogs that continue to be the source of nightmares for me. All of the stories are true, by the way. Well, perhaps they might be embellished a little for dramatic effect but for the most part they are of uncanny accuracy. When it comes to dogs and their relentless pursuit of the men and women in blue, truth is indeed stranger than fiction!
German Shepherd - Merciless Mailman Mauler
Number 6 Most Misbehaving Mutt - German Shepherd
To begin with, I apologize for my photos. I defend them by saying they have a "raw" quality, which is a euphemism for being crappy. I have been using the same old cell phone to take pictures since about the advent of color photography, and it shows.
I have mixed feelings about the German Shepherd. They are as fickle and unpredictable as people. The one outstanding feature that German Shepherds have is that most of them will not bark stupidly and without a purpose, once they understand that your intentions are not contrary to the directives of management, meaning the owner. To elaborate upon this point, there was once a house on my route where a seemingly vicious German Shepherd would patrol the fence line like the goose-stepping Gestapo that flowed through his veins. I was very wary of this toothed Teutonic Titan, so much so that when the gate to the house was left open one day, leaving the dog free to devour me, I immediately began to make my peace with my creator. I figured I was as good as munched. To my surprise, the dog came right out to the fence line, barking angrily, and then stopped in his tracks. He was smart enough to know that the fence line was the limit of his territory and had been trained not to proceed beyond it. The mail gods smiled favorably upon me that day, deferring my munching to an as yet unspecified day of reckoning. Hearing the boisterous barking, the owner came out and introduced me to the dog, who accepted me as harmless from that point on. After that I could even go into the yard and deliver parcels to the door. The ferocious monster would even tolerate an appreciative pat on the head for abstaining from digesting me.
I must point out that not all German Shepherds are as merciful as that one was. When that particular shepherd died the owner bought another, and the newcomer was not aware of the truce that had existed between his breed and I in the past. Instead of letting me welcome him with a friendly scratching behind the ears, the newcomer would escape from the yard and chase me down the block, his fangs dripping with saliva from the thought of a delicious repast. Let this serve as a lesson to you that it is not wise to assume that every member of a particular breed behaves the same. As among people, there is always a small, deviant percentage of the population that cannot conform to the rules of polite society, and this is no different among our furry friends!
Horror Movie Becomes Reality!
Number 5 Most Misbehaving Mutt - The Saint Bernard
I'll keep this one brief, because I have had only a single encounter with one of these drooling flea bags from the depths of hell. While approaching the door of a house at the end of a cul de sac one of these rabid, slobbering demons came bursting through the screen, rushing toward me with homicidal intentions, its sagging jowls foaming over with the same saliva that it intended to digest me with. I don't remember the details of how I escaped, but once again my date with canine digestion was delayed to a more propitious hour.
Even though this incident did not occur on my own route, I put the house on dog hold and the owners were forced to move the box out to the curb. That box remains there to this date, some 12 to 13 years later, standing as a monument to the eminent fanged death that awaited me there in the slavering jaws of that Saint Bernard. Carriers, be aware that if you see a mailbox out by the curb on a street in which most of them are by the door, it is a warning that something wicked lies within that residence. Approach at your own peril!
Beware the Mini Mailman-Munching Wolf!
Number 4 Most Misbehaving Mongrel - The Chihuahua
I'll give you this opportunity to go ahead and release your laughter before I discuss the very serious side effects of coming into contact with these small packages of furry dynamite. The fact is, the minuscule size of these diminutive doggies often causes your friendly local letter carrier to commit the grave error of not giving them their due respect and a sufficiently wide berth. I once saw a movie where a pack of tiny dinosaurs was in the process of breakfasting upon some careless scientist, and every time I think about it I wonder what would happen if ravaging packs of Chihuahuas were set loose upon the world. The effects upon humanity would be similarly devastating, I think.
In my hub "Mel's Mongrel-Centric Mutterings," I recount an incident in which I was surrounded by a small wolf pack of these skittering little paws with teeth. Although no longer common in the wild, packs of Chihuahuas still remember their wolf pack heritage and will stalk and surround their prey in wolf style. I had to fight my way through a vicious pack of three of them that had me blocked off on all sides, making escape practically impossible. In the meantime the owner stood there doing what he could to suppress his laughter and only called the dogs off as they were lunging in for the kill. I was able to limp back safely to my LLV, not wounded too much except for my pride as I marveled over my narrow escape.
Miniature Doberman - Football with Teeth!
Number 3 Most Misbehaving Mutt - The Miniature Doberman Pinscher
I suppose that Postal-issued pepper spray is effective as protection against dogs if applied properly, but sometimes a good old size thirteen gets the point across to even the most stubborn of man eating hounds. As described in greater detail in my "Mel's Mongrel-Centric Mutterings" hub, I once kicked a field goal with a Miniature Pinscher that crawled beneath the fence in its yard and tried to take me unawares. I really did not intend to kick the poor beast, it was purely self-preservation, instinctive behavior on my part, but I have to admit feeling a certain perverse satisfaction as the canine football rose up several feet in the air before landing painfully and then skulking back to the yard it came from - having repented of its sins. Equally satisfying was the reaction of the Cox Cable repairman who was watching me from down the street; shouting out that it was "F!%#ing Awesome!" to quote. Letter Carriers are not the only working men/women in our society who suffer from the depredations of deranged Dobermans!
Mini Dobermans attempt to emulate their full size brethren in the volume of their ferocity, but often fall short in their ability to carry out the threat. They are notorious skulkers, and will retreat back to the safety of their Mailman-bone strewn lairs if confronted. All the same, they are masters of the rear attack and it behooves a letter carrier to have his/her feet battle ready at all times!
Pet this Pooch if you Dare!
Number 2 Most Misbehaving Mutt - The Pit Bull
In spite of the horror stories surrounding this breed, I have only had one potentially deadly encounter with this savage race of crazed, mailman-flesh craving mongrels. The good thing about pit bulls is that they bark stupidly at everyone and everything that passes by, from the six foot plus letter carrier to the lowly ant creeping by on the sidewalk. Therefore, in most cases the mailman is aware of where this dog is at all times, but not always! When dealing with doggies, I cannot stress enough that there is always a dangerous exception to every rule!
I almost became a deceased exception to this rule, and would only be a note in an obituary today if not for the benevolent intercession of the mail gods. Several years ago when I had stopped to deliver a parcel to a house a raging pit bull rushed out from nowhere and charged me as if it was Pamplona and I was a drunken spectator rushing down the street to avoid getting gored. Because I was only delivering a package and had no previous knowledge of the presence of this buffed up canine I was not carrying my satchel, much less my dog spray. Even if I had one or the other in the hand they would have been useless, because the dog surprised me so thoroughly that there was absolutely no time to react.
On this occasion there wasn't even time to pray, so I swiftly began considering which portion of my anatomy was the most useless, so that I could offer it up first as a sacrifice. I knew I was going to get mauled, it was only a question of which part of me would be eaten first. Since I have rather large feet I was thinking that I could probably lose about half of one and still function, so I was on my way to extending my grotesquely large left foot outward when the dog suddenly veered off to my right and disappeared. I stood there for a moment stupefied, wondering why I had been spared the vicious fangs of death, before I leaped back in my LLV and drove out of there quickly. Perhaps the pit bull had been deterred by the unappetizing odor of the extremity I had offered it, or maybe he had a lunch date already that he was saving room for. At any rate I lived to tell the tale.
Of course, being the meticulous, by the book letter carrier that I am, I put the house's mail on hold. A few days later the homeowner came in to sign the dog letter, but he was puzzled by the breed identification I had put on the dog letter.
"I don't have a pit bull," the owner claimed. "I have a Chihuahua."
"Your Chihuahua is on steroids," I told him. He signed the paper anyway and walked away scratching his head.
Several days later it came to light that a hoodlum friend of the homeowner's son had been at the house with his pit bull that day, which solved the mystery of the Guinness Record Breaking Monster Chihuahua.
Mel's Marvelously Muzzled Mutts!
Number 1 Most Misbehaving Mongrel - The Cockel Spaniel
Up until now, the only dog that has been able to sample a bite of my tasty Mailman flesh has been the Cocker Spaniel. This is why I have given this breed the prestigious position of Number One on my list of the Most Misbehaving Mongrels. I was about four months into my Postal Service career when one of these shaggy yappers snuck up from behind and took a bite out of my back leg. To add insult to injury the dog owners apparently did not have homeowners insurance and I received no monetary remuneration for the only dog bite that was ever successfully inflicted upon me.
In my experience, the Cocker Spaniel is a nervous, disagreeable little pooch. My sister had one that tried to take a piece out of my hand when I attempted to pet it. The Internet is chock full of cute pictures of this breed, but if there was a way to genetically equip them with a built-in muzzle, yours truly would be one happy letter carrier.
I hope you enjoyed my evaluation of the six dog breeds that I consider the most threatening to the sanctity of mailman flesh. For this Dog Bite Prevention week in particular, and for every week that you are swinging a satchel, make sure you keep your dog spray on you at all times, and keep your foot in the ready position!
More Mailman-Munching Mutts
- Dogs vs. Mailmen: Does Size Matter? A Tale of Ankle Biters and Toe Tasters
In the brutal war of attrition of Mailman against Canine it is often assumed that Dog size is the essential element. Mel reveals here that size does indeed matter, but not in the way you think.