We decided that she probably had some kind of shepherd in her. She was quite protective of the boys, and she never wandered too far from the house.
We decided that for the benefit of our neighbors, we needed to keep her tied up during the day. We put Spike on a long lead with a swivel post. She was adept at not letting herself get tangled up.
The boys would come home from school and take her off her lead to play with her. Spike would follow them on their bicycle rides and other wanderings around the neighborhood. Spike pretty much stayed by their sides all the time. She even tried to protect the boys from themselves.
One Saturday, the boys rode their bikes to a construction site. There was a large pile of dirt at the site. Being boys, their first thought was to play “King of the Mountain.” A game in which each boy tried to be the only one on top of the dirt mound. This was a game that involved pushing the other one down.
Spike was not happy. She got between the boys, she barked, and she started pulling the boys down the dirt mound by their pants legs. The boys finally gave up and rode their bikes home.
Our view of Spike was that she was a friendly dog who would never hurt anyone. She saw herself as part of our family with the assignment of protecting the family from danger.
A new neighbor moved into the house next door. They had a dog, too. One evening we all happened to be in our respective backyards at the same time. The neighbor’s dog had not yet learned the boundaries between the houses, since we had no fence. The dog came into our back yard and growled at John. The next thing I knew, Spike had bowled the intruder over and was standing over the neighbor’s dog with her mouth hovering over the other dog’s neck.
Our neighbor’s father seemed to be the only one not in shock. He gently grasped Spike’s collar and pulled her back. Thankfully she was compliant.
One afternoon the doorbell rang at our house. Kathy was home alone. She answered the door, and a UPS man was standing in the entryway with a package. She signed for the package, but he did not move.
“Is there anything else?” Kathy asked.
“Yes mam,” he stammered, “would you please call off your dog?”Spike was standing behind the UPS man, with a very attentive look and a low growl. Kathy called Spike and she sat down, allowing the UPS man to leave.
These episodes taught me that any dog has the potential to bite. It does not matter how friendly the dog is to its’ family, given the right circumstances the dog can go into protective mode and become violent.
When someone asks if they can pet one of my dogs, I know longer just say “sure.” I’m careful to check my dog’s current disposition before giving permission, and to give a warning to the person making the request to approach my dog carefully.