"Wow" is all I can say about Matt Keopple's letter about dogs. I lived in Tenakee Springs, an area that has a very large brown bear population. During summers, the highly productive Indian River vicinity is surrounded by huge 1,000-pound bear sows with cubs and male bears as well.
I felt pretty safe walking in this bear country with my dog. Many people refer to good dogs as bear dogs and would consider it a fallacy to say that dogs cannot protect their owners from bears. I stood 4 feet away from a bear sow who was not too happy about me being there, as I had surprised her and her small children. My dog jumped in between me and the bear, snapping, barking, and eventually turning the bear around.
In many instances, my dogs alerted me to the presence of bears by barking in warning. They stayed around to make sure the bears left, or at least didn't proceed toward me without notice.
I completely agree with the fact that dogs who poop on people's lawns leave rather unpleasant evidence. However, it is ridiculous to regard all dogs as useless decorations who must remain on their leashes, serving no purpose, as cute pets.