A beautiful black, white and silver gray Akita, Masada was a 105 pound dog who
led the good life. Her owners had adopted her when she was just a young pup,
after having owned a couple of cats that died prematurely. They were hoping a
dog would somehow break the bad luck they'd had with becoming attached to and
deeply loving their pets, only to have them attract fast moving diseases that
took them to the other side while they were still young.
Masada's owner, Patou, loved her gentle dog, but there were times when she
was afraid of him. Patou was athletic and took the happy dog out for a daily
run. But she was always wary, keeping an eye out for any other dogs that might
cross their path. Because, while Masada was very friendly toward humans, she was
not so friendly towards other dogs. It wasn't just any other dog that the
sizable Akita exhibited aggressive behavior toward, though. It was little dogs,
and Patou jogged through the neighborhood terrified that at any moment, a small
dog down the street would inspire Masada to take her on a leash ride that would
put her out of control.
I asked Masada why she disliked small dogs and was so aggressive toward them.
"It's not all dogs that make me aggressive," she
told me. "Small, snappy dogs with big attitude problems
make me want to put them in their place."
graphically showed me one case of a small dog that leapt out of its owner's
moving SUV, and ran toward her while barking aggressively. Patou sprayed the
small dog with pepper spray to stop it, basically saving its life (although the
dog's owner didn't see it that way).
Masada had once killed a small, aggressive neighboring dog too. The little dog
barked at her continuously through a wrought iron fence. Patou warned her
neighbors that the small dog had been seen outside the fencing and that her
Akita would not tolerate its presence in her own backyard should the dog get
through. Her warnings went unheeded however, the dog eventually did squeeze
through the bars, and Masada casually snapped its neck. Subsequently, Patou
installed chicken wire around the perimeter of her yard.
Masada did not feel she was aggressive toward dogs that didn't have attitude
problems or act aggressively toward her, although she did consider herself an
alpha dog who needed to establish the hierarchy by taking other dogs down.
Her intense curiosity and lack of experience with other dogs caused
problems too since her owners couldn't risk many encounters, even though at
times, all she wanted was a whiff. Bruce
and Patou did take the risk to introduce her to a friend's dog once, who became
very special to Masada. With concerned humans standing by, Masada established
the hierarchy by pinning the other dog down, after which the two canines became
Although I expressed her owner's concerns to Masada, her innate instincts were
not averted. An animal communicator cannot talk an animal out of
instinctual behavior, and although we can offer practical solutions to problems
of aggression, these generally include some training and follow through by the