"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Harry Potter Can Teach Us About Dogs

Oh yes, I did go there...! After a decade-long relationship with Harry Potter, I admit I’m not quite ready to let go. As I’ve aged along with Harry and his friends, my interests have developed and I can’t help but notice that JK Rowling’s commentary applies to so many facets of life. Also, I really like metaphors because I'm a huge nerd at heart. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’ve become involved with dog rescue and welfare issues. Even here, I can apply Rowling’s lessons. Here’s what I think the Harry Potter series can teach us about man’s best friend.

  1. Pure blood does not always correlate with aptitude.

Snobs like the Malfoy family gauge the worth of their friends and family members on their ability to track their lineage via old wizarding blood lines. But some of the most competent wizards in the series are muggle-born – Hermione Granger and Lily Potter come to mind – or are half bloods – Severus Snape and Dean Thomas fit the bill here. As Sirius points out, wizards had to marry muggles, or they’d die out – the gene pool simply wasn’t diverse enough to support a growing population without inbreeding. And, in the wizarding world, inbreeding can lead to pretty big problems – just ask the Gaunts.
No offense to whippet fans, but I see a definite resemblance...

  1. Big black dogs get a bad rap

An omen of death in the wizarding world, only the highly logical Hermione was quick to scoff at the idea that a big, black dog was one of the worst things a wizard could hope to encounter. As it turns out, the spectral dog that haunted Harry through much of the Prisoner of Azkaban was none other than his soon-redeemed godfather and best friend of his dad. Turns out, black dogs can be good news and faithful guardians.
To fear or revere...judge by personality not color

  1. A tough exterior can house the biggest heart

Let’s face it: Hagrid is the pit bull of the Harry Potter world. He’s brawny, he’s misunderstood, and he’s got a heart of gold if you bother to give him a chance. Hagrid’s highly sensitive to human approval – remember how long he hid out in his hut after Rita Skeeter published that nasty article about him? Raise your voice at a pit bull and watch his goofy smile slide right off his face and dissolve into a look of utter shame. Although Hagrid might be a bit unorthodox, he is the symbol of loyalty throughout the series, with Dumbledore entrusting him with critical errands and information.

If Hagrid were a dog, he'd totally be brindle...

Of course, Hagrid’s part giant, and heaven forbid you be even part giant, because, as Ron explains, “they’re not very nice.” And although there’s nothing wrong with Hagrid, and once you meet him you’ll figure that out quickly, Hagrid isn’t exactly keen to have his heritage scrutinized before he’s even given a chance to prove it wrong. Turns out Hagrid’s brother, Grawp, a full-blooded giant, can be a pretty stand up fellow as well, if you’ve earned his loyalties.

  1. If you get bitten, it was probably your fault

In the Harry Potter series, you’re liable to get bitten by animals, plants, and objects that would qualify as inanimate in the muggle world. As Malfoy found out the hard way, failing to follow proper procedures when dealing with non-human critters can earn you a trip to the hospital wing. But, even in the wizarding world, the law seems to use some sort of strict liability scheme for animal bites, and an animal caught up in a legal battle generally is blamed for acting exactly how an animal should behave, and poor Buckbeak was sentenced to death for scratching up Malfoy’s arm.

  1. Indifference and neglect can cause as much damage as abuse

Hermione was first to point out a sentiment later echoed by Albus Dumbledore himself – treating non-human creatures like objects, starving them of affection and basic respect – can ultimately bite you in the butt. Perhaps Kreacher was a foul little house elf, but it was Sirius’s callous attitude toward him that inspired Kreacher’s betrayal.

  1. Love is the greatest power of all

I’ve worked enough with rescued dogs to know that, almost always love is the key ingredient needed to fix a dog. A new foster asked me the other day, after she picked up her new foster puppy, “What do I need to do for her? I don’t know what I’m doing!” And I said, “Just love her.” Within hours, she was sending me pictures of a joyous puppy rather than an utterly defeated little creature. Time and time again I’ve seen simple acts of human compassion and kindness completely rehabilitate a dog. Harry Potter conquered Voldemort using this deceptively simple power. Let’s remember to use it with our own dogs.

Posted by GemmaZ


  1. this was great, and so true!

  2. I can't even begin to say how much I love this!

  3. awww i love this! This is so true! I have a big, black newfouldland at home and she is the sweetest dog ever!