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Dog Park Disaster!

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Cupid, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. Cupid

    Cupid Well-Known Member

    I had a bad experience with my 1-year-old dog at a dog park recently. She is a pitt mix. I adopted her at 5 months of age. I had been going to puppy socials at the pet store every weekend with her. She loves other dogs and people. Only problem I saw with her was jumping up on people, which I am in the process of breaking, and working out pretty well with that.

    Now the problem I encountered this week. I am very disappointed to say I found out the hard way that she is not dog park material. On her 4th trip there (the first 3 were okay, she was a little over excited to see new dogs coming in), she lunged at a smaller, timid dog and had it by the throat. I had to use my hands to release her mouth from the dog's neck. I didn't see any injuries to the dog, people were very upset, I got the leash and removed her from the park. Havent been back since.

    I called the city dog park office today just to see if there any complaints filed, I didn't say who I was because I wasn't asked. The clerk said there were 3 complaints filed so far about this incident and she gave me her email address if I could send her an email describing what happened, a description of the dog and its owner, but she had the dog's name right. She said they would try to look up the information on their system (which I find strange because they have all the information when I registered, I'm surprised I havent been contacted yet quite frankly). She also said a police report may be filed. (?) I asked if anyone was injured, and she said no (big relief on my end, because I couldnt tell by looking at the other dog if any damage was done. The owner carried it out of the dog park after having a few choice words with me.)

    So now I'm waiting to see what happens next. This is so devastating and I feel badly for the other dog and its owner. I do NOT intend on returning to a dog park ever again.

    Anyone ever have something similar happen to them or someone they knew. I just wonder what I'm in for.

    And I'm not defending my dog, I never thought she had this in her. There were a few other aggressive dogs there as well, but not to the extent that she carried this out.

    I'll say one thing. On my first visit, I sensed people didnt like the fact that she was a pittbull mix. When I registered her, they didnt have any breed restrictions, and they knew what breed she was.
  2. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    We recently had an issue with our neighbor's dog attacking my dog and husband while they were on a walk. The neighbor's dog has an electric fence collar and the batteries were dead. My dog was on a leash. We decided to file a complaint with the neighborhood association and file a police report, both only as a warning and to start a record -- no fines. The "attack" was such that a smaller person and dog could have been hurt much worse than my Siberian Huskey and sturdy husband. The whole episode was witnessed by another neighbor.

    Anyway, my point is that it is possible that the other dog owners also just wanted to make sure there was a formal police record in case anything happened again. You are wise to stay out of the dog parks. My doggie day care center is very good about creating small (2-5 dog) play groups that have the same play style and won't hurt each other. It is not free, but might be an option for you.
  3. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry. This is very upsetting.

    My dog is a Pit mix, too. At least we think she is. We adopted her from the Humane Society and they had her listed as a Boxer mix, but she has the Pit eyes and head shape. We adopted her when she was 6 months old. We had two cats and another dog in our home at the time. Everything was fine for about three months, and then she started becoming very aggressive with our other dog. At first it was just some barking and snarling, but then it became all out attacks. I don't know if three months was enough to make her feel comfortable enough to pull this kind of stuff, or what.

    We put up with it for a while, and then fearing that one of the dogs was going to wind up dead or seriously injured, we had a trainer come into our home to look at the situation. She gave us lots of good advice, but unfortunately, our other dog died (of natural causes, not from being attacked) before we got to finish training them to co-exist peacefully.

    This may not be the answer you're looking for, but since I know the aggressive nature of my dog, I don't take her to dog parks, Petsmart, or anyplace where there will be a lot of other dogs. I also try not to walk her at times when a lot of people are out walking their dogs. I just don't want to risk another dog getting hurt and me being sued. I do take her on walks in the neighborhood, though, and I notice that she isn't bothered too much by other dogs who ignore her. She is fine with people and cats. She snuggles up with our cats and lets them clean her.

    Maybe you could seek the advice of a trainer?
  4. Cupid

    Cupid Well-Known Member

    I'm hoping it's just a warning. I've heard things ranging from the police will come to my house, confiscate her, and have her impounded/tested/put down, to the police report being published in the local paper with my name! This is a dog park. I have to believe this type of thing is not a rare occurrence. I do think the fact that she was a pitt mix is making some of the owners overreact, the police must know this.

    We go on walks all the time through the neighborhood and she has never provoked or attacked or growled at anyone or their pets. I think it may have been the pack mentality of all these dogs (there had to be at least 20 of them) that brought this out in her.

    My sister said to me that there are two personalities to deal with at dog parks: the dogs and the dogs' owners.
  5. Cupid

    Cupid Well-Known Member

    I do plan to talk to the trainer at her puppy socials. I remember him saying she had a high prey instinct, I didnt think he meant she would turn vicious on another dog!

    And she seems to love other dogs! When I went trail walking with her yesterday, it seemed almost like she was wondering where all the dogs were? She loves to play, but it must have been too overstimulating for her at that dog park.
  6. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    The thing is- I think it is rare. I have never heard of a dog being attacked at a dog park, and friends frequent them, and talk/gossip about them all the time.

    Our dog doesn't socialize well with certain types of dogs, so for the unknown- we wouldn't ever take her to a dog park. I wouldn't want to risk her becoming aggressive because she feels dominant or on the other end because she feels scared.
  7. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry to hear this happened, Cupid. I can see that you have only the best intentions, and I do think it's wise to keep your dog out of dog parks.

    I agree with KCC that it's probably just a way to make a record. If there was no damage, I don't believe anything else will happen. But be aware of your state's law. Many states follow an old principle, rather misleadingly called the "one free bite" rule. Broadly stated, this rule says that if a dog injures someone, the dog's owners aren't legally responsible until they had reason to know that dog might cause that kind of injury. In contrast, other states have laws on the books (dog-bite statutes) that make owners liable no matter what they knew or didn't know about the dog's temperament. Since there wasn't any damage, you shouldn't have any issue ... this time. But now that your dog has a record, you are imputed with the knowledge that your dog could be dangerous. So, be really careful from this point on. If something else happens, it could be more serious because of your dog's "record."

    I sympathize. I had a Rottie for many years. And, although she was very calm and composed and never bit or attacked anyone, I certainly had to deal with the stigma that came along with having that kind of breed.

    Just do your best to be careful. Even if you don't think your dog will behave in a certain way, try to assume s/he will and guard against something else happening. I'm really sorry this happened.

  8. Cupid

    Cupid Well-Known Member

    My sister who lives in another state witnessed a woman's two pomeranians being attached by a larger dog at the dog park, one of them had to be put down and the other was seriously injuried. The poms' owner was talking on her cell phone and didnt notice the larger dog approaching hers. She said the woman was about 80 pounds and she herself got bit by the larger dog during the attack.

    There should almost be some kind of testing done to allow membership. They probably don't care too much because everyone who signs up has to sign waivers release the city and park from all liability from any harm that occurs there.
  9. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    My brother in law's wife found a stray dog who the vet said is boxer mix, but they think it is pitt boxer mix. Has the eyes, head, mouth. She is just the sweetest thing ever - she loves and does not bother cats, she doesn't eat the cat food on the floor, and she has never shown any sign of aggressiveness. I hope that doesn't change. They've had her about a year and a half now. She's about 3. They don't take her to dog parks, but she is really good with other dogs in small numbers.

    So sorry Cupid, this is so hard to deal with. I have only been to a dog park once, but 2 dogs were playing really aggressively and were terrorizing my friend's dog (and some kids) so we left. Just like anything else, it isn't for every dog.
  10. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

    My husband and I used to take our viszla Seamus to the dog park when he was a puppy and a young dog. He is a friendly, gregarious dog who loves people and enjoys playing with kids and with other dogs.

    Sometimes there have been 20 or more dogs at the park, but that didn't seem to create a "pack" mentality. If there was trouble it was always because one particular dog had aggressive tendencies. In once case, it was a pair of Shar Peis that seemed meek and mild but who tended to gang up on other dogs. In another, it was a retreiver mix who attacked other dogs while his owner stood there and grinned. There was one pit bull mix who attacked and seriously injured another dog. And there was a border collie who would challenge any dog who dared to approach the ball the collie was chasing.

    I agree that sometimes a dog owner either tolerates aggressive behavior or is in denial about it. Some of the offenders brought their dogs to the park again and again, even after an aggressive incident, and despite warnings from other dog owners.

    When we saw one of the problem dogs enter the park, we would take Seamus and leave.
  11. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    My previous dog was a pit mix as well. I understand that a lot of people see pitties and make assumptions that have nothing to do with the actual behavior of the actual dog, but.....

    The other owners are NOT overrreacting. Your dog suddenly attacked a smaller dog and the only way to get the attack to stop was for you to physically intervene. What happened is exactly what people expect to happen when a pitbull (or mix) comes to a dog park. It sounds like you are doing the right thing - you removed your dog immediately and are not planning to take her to off-leash parks anymore - but I'm not at all surprised that there were choice words. As owners we are responsible for our pets' behavior. The only suggestion I would make is that you should have given your name and phone number to the owner of the other dog and made it clear that if it turned out later there were any injuries that you would gladly foot the bill 100% (that's just good ownership no matter what the breed of your dog).

    Good luck - it sounds like she's otherwise a good dog, and understanding her needs (i.e. needing to always be on leash) means you two can hopefully have a great, long life together :cool:.
  12. purple skates

    purple skates Shadow Dancing

    I have a german shepherd who wouldn't hurt a fly (as far as I know), but because she is a german shepherd and their bites are particularly nasty, I am very careful when she is approached by anyone (especially kids) to be petted. It actually surprises me how many kids want to pet her when we go camping - she kind of looks like a wolf, not all cute and cuddly.

    Cupid, you are doing the right thing about avoiding the dog park/keeping your dog leashed. Just be careful, as hopefully everything will be fine.
  13. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    It's not just pitt mixes. You just never know whether a dog is dog aggressive by its breed or temperament around people.

    Our first dog was a golden retriever, although he was small so he was probably a mix with a setter or something. Sweetest thing around people, never snapped at anyone, even annoying children who pulled his tail or hugged him when he ate.

    However, he HATED other dogs. He'd lunge at them when out on walks, and not in a friendly, "I want to get to know you" way. We never did have to separate him from another dog, we simply never took the chance. Obviously never went to dog parks.

    I'm so sorry this happened to you. You just didn't know and it was probably the worst way to find out your dog was capable of this kind of behavior. (((HUGS))) I hope they don't throw the book at you or her.
  14. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    We did have the police make a visit to our neighbor to deliver the notice/warning. However, we are a small community where the officer is another neighbor. We told the him specifically that we did not want their dog impounded or to impose any fines. But the attack was significant enough that we wanted to make sure it would be forgotten or dismissed easily. We have small kids on our road and a 100-pound neighbor that walks her poodle almost every evening.
  15. rfisher

    rfisher Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    that is exactly what the trainer meant. Some breeds simply do not do well around other dogs even if they've been properly socialized. They are very territorial and smaller dogs may ilicit the prey response. I had an Akita who was very much that way. That is typical of the breed. My Akita was very socialized with people including children, but would not tolerate another dog or any other animal for that matter. I never walked her without a pinch collar so that I had absolute control.

    I'm sorry this happened to you, but you have to recognize breed traits for what they are. All dog breeds were selectively bred for specific traits be they physical or behavioral. Pit bulls were bred for agression. It was their job as varmit dogs and unfortunately recently as fighting dogs. Your dog is what she is. She may even have felt that you were being threatened.

    There is nothing you can do about what has already happened. You do need to understand your dog, the breed and make certain you know how to contol her. Obedience classes with owners are really to teach the owner. The other option is to send her to a trainer, but you will not get the same dog back. This option is really more for dogs being trained for guarding or protection.
  16. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    My last dog (lab shepherd cross) attacked a small dog once when she was protecting our new puppy. And my golden retriever has had several instances of dog aggression, all against small dogs. It doesn't help when the owners of the small dogs start swinging their dog around the leash, which provokes the predatory instinct in the aggressive dog.

    I had to a pay a vet bill for injury caused by the last dog's attack and another for one of Luna's attacks. Needless to say, I am very very careful with her now.

    The odd this is that the behaviour is not at all consistent. It only happens at certain places, particularly one park near our house. We regularly go to an off-leash park a bit further away and never once has Luna got herself into a fight.
  17. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    Hmm, I really don't want to be negative repped. But. I am SO tired of these pit owners saying how sweet and cuddly they are and it's just the OWNER that makes them aggressive and deadly. Pit bulls have a rep because they EARNED it. I can't imagine your insurance company accepting you with a Pit. Or maybe you don't have insurance.

    Out of all the dogs in the world, WHY go for a Pit? You should know their reputation, and you should be dealt with accordingly. I'd be pissed if your Pit attacked my dog. I would sue you for every cent of vet bills, loss of work, pain/suffering and heaven help you if your Pit touched my family. I'd take you down.

    But... You do own this pet, and love it, and it is sweet to you. So just KEEP IT IN YOUR HOUSE AWAY FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD. And if it attacks your kid, grandkid, whatever, at least it's just in your family and it's your conscience for causing a family member to be harmed, and medical bills. Love your beautiful sweet Pit doggie, but do NOT put others in harm's way.

    I agree, the police reports were probably just to get a record on you and your aggressive attack dog. Next time, babydoll will be put to sleep. And if you do have home insurance and don't report it, they will not cover you if your dog harms anyone/anything the next time. You now really need to think if you should even own this pet. First strike, you need to adjust. I personally would not take your dog out ANYWHERE after this attack has been documented. You are in a tough situation.

    I respect that you have the right to own this kind of dog and love it. Great. But keep it away from everyone else. For the record, the Pits that I have known have been incredibly sweet and cuddly and playful and loving. But you think I'd get one? HTTN.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  18. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Wouldn't it be easier on you to have a muzzle around your dog when you walk it?
  19. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    I agree with Alex. Pitbulls are a breed that have literally been banned here. For the numbers of them here, which is quite small, the number of incidents have been disproportionally high.

    If you are going to take your dog out, put a muzzle on it. There is a reason why racing greyhounds, which is a breed that has a reputation for attacking small furry things because they are bred to chase small furry things, must wear a muzzle when outside in Australia. I love greyhounds, grew up with them and think they are the most friendly dogs - I never met a vicious one when it came to reacting with people. In fact they are one of the few dogs that I would not hesitating patting if I didn't know the dog. But I totally respect the inherent risks involved with that dog breed and would do all I can to reduce the risks if I owned one.
  20. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member



    Border collies will herd, retrievers will retrieve, dachshunds will go to ground and hunt rodents. Doesn't matter if they're bred as pets, they still maintain what was selectively bred into them for centuries.

    When Floyd Boudreaux was busted, the agents who went in to seize his Pits were able to walk up to the dogs, who were shackled on short leases. Most dogs who are shackled are very defensive and will attack an approaching stranger, but Boudreaux's dogs were docile around people because that was selectively bred into them. Had the agents been Poodles, every one of them would have been mauled because he also selectively bred extreme aggressiveness towards other animals into them. The most gentle Pit bull cannot be trusted around other animals, period. I'm sure there are exceptions, but it's not worth the risk.

    You are responsible for your dog at ALL times. Your dog had someone else's dog by the throat-That's not people "overreacting" because that dog is a Pit-It's because your dog is is an animal aggressive breed which was mauling their dog.

    Yes, if your dog developes a history of attacking, being a Pit or mix will stimatize the dog, and yes, it may be put down. You need to keep this dog well excercised and away from other dogs in an uncontrolled situation. Dogs aren't always the cute little domestic pets we think they are.
  21. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    :eek: I never would have guessed that greyhounds would be that way (needing to be muzzled). A greyhound rescue group has a booth once a month at the local farmer's market and they usually have two or three of their dogs present. I realize that the dogs placed with adoptive families likely have been "tested" for their aggressiveness towards other animals and children, but these have been some of the sweetest, most laid-back dogs I have ever been around. Having been bitten by dogs in the past (once as a small child, once while delivering the mail on a summer college job), I'm not naturally a "dog person" but I have loved visiting with the greyhounds whenever they have been at the market. Mostly they haven't been on leashes, but of course, this is quite different from having them run free at a dog park.
  22. leesaleesa

    leesaleesa Active Member

    Greyhounds are extremely gentle. The risk is to small animals that run-The Greyhound will react by running it down, because thats what they've been bred to do.
  23. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    Or just dogs. My cat could eat a chihuahua.
  24. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    Well sure, but you do need to be smart about it. I was at a Pride parade several years ago, and we were walking down the sidewalk and it was jammed person to person. However we all noticed as we were heading down the street people were basically jumping like three feet to the side when they hit a certain spot. Guess what, I did too. Some idiot decided to bring his PYTHON to the parade and carried it around his shoulders. Well guess what? A parent with a toddler on his shoulders walked past it, didn't see it, and the python attacked the toddler. Can you even imagine?!?!

    It's about risks and being smart. Taking a python to a crowded parade was not smart, and now, taking your attack dog out in public would not be considered smart. Keep it at home.

    And the one major thing I learned is that if a boa/python is attacking, throwing alcohol in its eyes will unhinge it usually. Fortunately it was gay pride and there was plenty there. But if that were my child, I would so sue and would probably win big. Now you have to worry if your dog attacks a kid, you will be sued for $$$$$$$ and you would deserve it.
    barbk and (deleted member) like this.
  25. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately, this is not rare at all. At one of our local parks, there have been two dogs killed in the last 18 months by two different dogs (who were never aggressive). Not all dogs are good dog park material. And, you put that together with inexperienced and ill trained dog Owners, you have a loosing situation.

    Strong prey instinct does mean that the dog has a strong drive to attack whatever he/she feels is "prey" - a dog, pet, child, etc.

    We have an 82 lb mix (supposed to be shepherd and golden - but I think she is more Rottie). After our German Shepherd died, our mix became aggressive. I had taken my dogs to the dog park every day, sometimes twice. But when we lost the big dog (I think) our dog became frightened, and/or figured she had to be more protective of me.

    My dog is simply not safe off leash where other dogs are. Period. So, I don't take her anywhere off leash. She is fabulous around people....lets the toddler take food from her mouth. I don't understand it, but I have learned to manage it.

    Pitts, as nice as they can be, have those hugely strong jaws, and a they were bred to fight. If one has that type of dog, then it is incumbent upon the owner to be responsible for managing the dog.

    So, good for you for not going to the park. And good for you for seeking advice. Leerburg Kennel has some fabulous resource information, and articles about aggression in dogs.

    Good luck.
  26. BlueRidge

    BlueRidge AYS's snark-sponge

    If a dog is aggressive with other dogs, that in no way predicts that it will be aggressive toward humans.

    I don't think that a dog that is aggressive at times with other dogs should be confused with a dog that is dangerous to humans.

    Dogs do get into fights. Some dogs who are generally good natured with other dogs sometimes get into fights with those other dogs. Its really not reasonable to suggest that a dog that has done that is a dangerous attack dog that might attack humans.
  27. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    Cupid, I've posted about this before, but my dog was attacked. This happened a few years ago. I have a Cavalier Spaniel. My neighbors took in a 7 year old Yellow Lab. They got the dog on a Saturday, the next day the family took the dog out for a walk - Mom, Dad, 11 year old girl, 8 year old girl, 4 year old girl. the family was on the side walk, the (maybe 60 lb.) 8 year old had the dog's leash. the dog probably weighed about 80 - 90 lbs. I was walking past them, in the street. My dog pulled toward the other dog, though I keep him on a very short leash. The lab saw my dog and like a rocket crouched down and swooped under my dog and grabbed him by the throat. It was shaking him, trying to kill him. I was screaming but didn't know what to do without doing more harm to my dog. Fortunately the father was able to get his hands into the lab's mouth and pry it open. My dog fell away. He could barely move. We had to take him to an emergency vet. They put him under, cleaned out his shoulder. Took X-rays to make sure his neck and spine were okay. And they put in 6 drains for the puncture wounds. We had to file a police report, the vet insisted. Our neighbors called the people they got the dog from and asked them about it being aggressive, they were told that it had attacked other dogs. Neighbors brought the dog back to them the next day, they were afraid of it with their children. They were horrified, but they didn't know the dog would attack. The only thing I think they did which was foolish was to let an 8 year old child take the leash of a big dog they didn't know. I mean the child could have been hurt, as well. My dog healed, though he still has some pain in that shoulder. The problem is that he is now terrified of other dogs. And I still have nightmares!

    It cost us about $3,000.00 in vet bills. Our neighbors covered it with their homeowners insurance.

    You never know what a dog will do. But, once a dog shows dog on dog aggression, it is best to keep he dog away from other dogs, unless it's muzzled. You are smart to stay away from dog parks. Just understand that you may be around dogs, in an excitable situation, just walking. You should also know that if a police report was filed, it stays with the dog. If the dog attacks a person, they can force you to put the dog down after only one attack. If the dog attacks a dog, it gets 3 strikes, then it goes down. So, be diligent, you don't want your baby to be taken from you. I don't know if any of this helps, I hope it does. :)

    And BR is totally right. Dogs that are dog aggressive are no more likely to be aggressive toward humans than any other dog.
    oleada and (deleted member) like this.
  28. judiz

    judiz Well-Known Member

    Any dog can become aggressive, we had a black lab/dachsund mix that was so aggressive our vet told us to put her down. We refused and found a new vet but we also never took our dog to any dog parks and we did not let her get near any other dogs or people when we walked her. A town near us settled a case yesterday where a pit bull escaped from its back yard and attacked another dog being walked by a woman and her daughter. The Pitt bull shook the smaller dog to death in front of the little girl. The town agreed to allow the man to keep his dog as long as he keeps it muzzled and he has to compensate the woman for the loss of her dog but the man was warned that if the dog escaped without the muzzle, it would be destroyed.
  29. triple_toe

    triple_toe Well-Known Member

    When did the trainer tell you she had a heightened prey instinct? It sounds like it was before the incident? That should have put you on high alert *before* she attacked another dog, especially when you add in the breed characteristics of pit bulls. You said you didn't think that meant she would attack other dogs, so what did you think it meant? If you weren't sure what that implied you should have asked the trainer for clarification, not to mention advice about whether off leash dog parks are appropriate. If a trainer tells me an animal of mine has a high prey instinct, particularly in a breed that is stereotypically aggressive, I'd make sure I understand exactly what that means and what my responsibilities are.

    This is not whiny pet owners overreacting to an innocent adorable puppy. Pits have a reputation for a reason and if you take one on it is your responsibility to be extra vigilant for the safety of other dogs and dog owners around you.
    AxelAnnie and (deleted member) like this.
  30. rfisher

    rfisher Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    One of the biggest mistakes some pet owners make is to treat their pets like humans. A dog is a dog. It doesn't think like we do. We as pet owners, and I've always had a dog and usually large breeds, have much healthier and happier dogs share our lives if we treat them like a dog. We expect them to act like a dog. Any dog can and will bite under certain circumstances. I had a doberman when my son was born. I never, ever left him alone with the dog even though the dog had never shown any aggressive tendencies. However, it only takes once. I understood the breed and treated him with the respect he deserved. Same with my Akita. I now have two Standard Poodles. I would not trust my male around children. My female will chase anything that runs or flys. They are never, ever off leash out of my yard. They are beautiful, extremely smart and have a true sense of humor, but they are still dogs. They do dog stuff.

    One of the funniest things I ever heard was a woman who brought her beagle to one of our obedience classes and asked the trainer how to keep the beagle from treeing the squirrels in the yard or chasing rabbits. They didn't want the little squirrel or rabbit hurt. We stared at her and the trainer finally asked why on earth did you get a beagle then. That's what they are bred to do. Her answer: she wanted a dog like Snoopy in Charlie Brown. His reply: then buy a paper and read the comic section.
    cholla and (deleted member) like this.