Cave Canem (Beware of Dog!)


As the world turns there is shocking evidence about the slippery state that holds our society together.  People’s mental and physical health are suffering.  There is an overall lack of self-control.  People are allegedly “connected” more through technology and the internet but have less real relationships with those around them.

Instant Gratification seems to be the order of the day and this creates major problems in our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states of mind that have not been designed to keep these insane break-neck paces that are so common to our society, our work and our family lives.  As time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’ into the future much of mankind and our society is also slippin’ southward in regard to our moral compass, ethics, common courtesy and manners, and overall goodwill and kindness.  In fact, crime and danger are common place in cities and suburban neighborhoods across the country and the planet.  We hear about crime or see it everyday on the internet, on the news, in the paper, or from a neighbor.

My family has been effected by it over the years.  I remember many years ago we had a vehicle stolen right outside our house! Another time (many years ago) I was also involved in a road rage incident.  Three guys followed me into a parking lot and tried to physically fight with me (all because I honked at them for suddenly cutting me off and almost causing an accident).  I fortunately was able to convince them to let me fight only one of them!  I was stupid and young at the time.  As we started to fight other people saw it and came over and the three buffoons jumped in their car and fled the scene.  This Christmas season a package was stolen right off our front porch, which means the low-life had to come through our metal gate and walk through our front yard and up onto our porch to steal it, and we live in a “good” neighborhood!

I hate to break it to you, folks, but there are real bad guys that exist and prey on the weak, the unprepared, the innocent and sometimes just random people or homes.

Enter the dog.  “Cave Canem” is Latin for Beware of Dog.  Below is the picture of a 2000 year old Roman floor mosaic from a house in Pompeii, Italy.  I love this sign!  And love the fact that dogs have been guarding us for years.

There are several of these signs found in Italy from ancient times.

Dogs are very well known for their fantastic devotion to guarding our home and hearth.  As highly intelligent animals many dogs have excellent situational awareness and stay very in tune to their environment and to the family/pack they belong to.  A dog’s olfactory sense is much better attuned than us, they hear much better than us (10x’s the tones), see movement (especially in low light) much better than us (due to more rods than cones in the eye), bark much louder than us, run much quicker than us, and bite much, much harder than us!

And we all know dogs are more faithful and devoted than most humans.  The name “Fido” comes from “Fidelis” meaning, “I am faithful” in Latin.  If there’s someone you want in your corner when there is a burglar prowling around your home or a weirdo approaching your wife and kids at the park it isn’t your goldfish…it’s your dog.  As animals that are highly intune to their senses there are a multitude of documented cases where dogs have protected and saved their owners or their owners property time and time again.  Many dogs almost seem to have a sixth sense about these types of things.

There is a great article on called, “Are you inviting burglars into your home?”  It is worth a quick read.  They interview former burglars and they give great tips on how you can burglar proof your house.  The best tip, and admittedly so by the former burglars, Get a dog!  The former burglar is quoted saying, “The single most effective thing you can do is get a dog.”  I agree wholeheartedly.

In Stanley Coren’s excellent book, The Intelligence of Dogs, he notes that, “It is highly likely that the first specific behavioral characteristic that humans selected in dogs was the tendency to bark.  In the wild, adult wolves do not bark very much, although wolf pups may be quite vocal.  The first domestication of dogs probably involved the adoption of wolf cubs, and those that proved themselves to be good watchdogs by barking and making noise at any disturbance were more likely to be kept and bred by their owners.”

In the book Rise of the Dutch Republic, John Lathrop Motley writes about the daring escape of William of Orange… “But for the little dogs watchfulness, William of Orange, upon whose shoulders the whole weight of his country’s fortunes depended, would have been led within a week to an ignominious death.  To his dying day the Prince ever afterwards kept a dog of the same race in his bed-chamber.  In statues of the Prince a little dog is frequently sculpted at his feet.”  

Because his little dog barked furiously he saved William from an exceptionally well planned surprise night attack during the Dutch war of independence in 1572.  When all his others guards and soldiers failed; William’s dog did not.

Here is a shortened list (from Coren’s book) of some of the best dogs for watchdog barking.  These breeds will readily bark.

1. Rottweiler

2. German Shepherd

3. Scottish terrier

4. West Highland white terrier

5. Miniature schnauzer

6. Yorkshire terrier

7.Cairn terrier

8. Chihuahua

Here is the shortened list for some of the most effective Guard dogs (barking and actual guarding!)

1. Bullmastiff

2. Doberman pinscher

3. Rottweiler

4. Komondor

5. Puli

6. Giant schnauzer

7. German shepherd

8. Rhodesian ridgeback 

Just proceed with caution if you select one of these effective guarding breeds or if you attempt to bring the guarding side out of your dog…most protection trainers would tell you (and I’d agree having done Schutzhund work and some protection training) bringing that side out is pretty easy… calming and calling the dog off is the harder part!

Enjoy your dogs, learn to be more aware of your surroundings like your dogs are, and be thankful they are there as an ever present companion and watchdog for your family and your home.

Stay safe,