Well, that's a loaded question, isn't it?
My immediate reaction is to say "No" but I guess that's a lie.
Trying to qualify it by saying "Yes, but it's owner-directed aggression and she's only ever bitten Jan and shuts down when approached by strangers and..." I've come to realize no one hears anything after "Yes".
I don't know why I feel so compelled to say no - I've admitted it here on the 'interwebs' for the whole world to see and know that yes, indeed, Bella has been known to bite. What is it in me that wants to assuage strangers fear of her? I do not know.
"Does she bite?"
I may not know why I want to say no but recently I've learned there is value saying "Yes."
A few weeks ago we had a great morning walk with Bella's best beau, Gus, his hu-folk and some friends. Getting ready to leave, I had Bella in the car when some passers-by came over to ooh and ahh over Gus. (This happens to us a lot when we're out with Gus.)
Finally, someone saw Bella hanging out of the car door with her head on my shoulder checking things out. Without a word, they approached us reaching out to pet her.
Instinctively, and perhaps rather rudely, I put up my arm to physically block their approach and said "She's afraid of people."
"Does she bite?"
That's when they asked "Does she bite?"
I said no because, in all honesty, Bella has never, ever shown any sign that she would bite a stranger. She is afraid of them and without fail (to this point at least) runs away or shuts down.
As soon as the word was out of my mouth, the woman re-initiated her approach, reaching her hand out to pet Bella again.
Are you kidding me? You've just been told the dog you are approaching is afraid of people, she's trapped in a car with no way to escape and just because my answer was "no, she doesn't bite", you're going to try and pet her again?
|Of course they want to pet me.|
I mean, you've seen me, right?
So I changed my response and said "Actually, yes, she can." The woman backed away.
Now of course, she's eyeing me and Bella like 'what are we doing out in public, don't we know we're endangering people'?
Well no ma'am, we're not - you are.
You shouldn't be reaching your hands into cars with unfamiliar dogs in them anyway but for darn sure you shouldn't be doing so with a dog you've just been told is afraid of people. I'm sorry but what the woof?
And so it dawned on me.
People may deride me for taking a "dangerous dog" out in public but if I just say "yes" when people ask me if she bites, I can protect Bella from people who still want to pet her even after I explain that she doesn't like that. The only real question I have is could/would someone potentially 'report us' for saying she bites even if she never has?
Any thoughts, legal knowledge or experience with such a thing? Let me know in the comments.