On the dreaded “friendly dog”
This is a subject that grumbles and grouses its way into my conversations quite often as I walk my dog. Poor Derek is often the vessel who absorbs my rants and by consequence is now ranting for himself about the foibles of the dreaded “friendly dog.”
You know, the one that’s always off leash cause they’re just “so great and well behaved.” Or the one on the longest lead exploring the road across the street while their owners walk around in a blissfully ignorant daze.
First off, let’s establish right now that I’m a dog lover and in no way shape or form do I want to dissuade people from walking their beloved pets. Walk away! Our four legged babies need all the exercise they can get in a society that isn’t always the most active. Any walk is better than no walk. Too often to people come home from work “too tired” to care for their furballs. I won’t go into the whole lifetime commitment and not commitment when it suits you thing, that’s a whole other post right there.
Secondly, let me tell you about my dog. I own a terror… uh terrier. You know, one of those dogs that can’t be quiet to save their lives combined with all the energy of one who is perpetually two years old. A 5k run requires about a two minute rest to recharge the batteries, so to speak. Personality wise, he isn’t the type that will go up to people and greet them unless they show up in our house. If you show up in our house, you are to throw the toy. It doesn’t matter if you show up for a visit or if you’re a stranger picking up something we posted online. Throw. The. Toy. He will, however, smell people’s ankles on the way by like it’s some rite of passage that only he understands. He is also uninterested in children and hands reaching down to pet him. His mission is to continue the walk, no matter the consequences. Oh, and find the perfect place to pee, because there’s no checking the spot ten times first. The moment the perfect spot comes up on the sidewalk, he uses it.
He’s a bossy little bugger about his walk too. Unless it’s pouring rain. Even then, don’t try and neglect his walk time.
I must also mention that he has anxiety issues. This stems from a puppy incident when a much larger dog bowled him over in her enthusiasm to greet him and literally made him shat himself. Ever since then he has panic attacks when dogs come near, friendly or otherwise, and will often show teeth if the dog gets too much in his face. I know this, he knows this, Derek knows this, but the rest of the world seems to ignore that not all dogs are cut from the same cloth.
And here is where I begin.
We walk the boardwalk at least once a week. It’s a challenging enough walk for a pregnant woman with all its little hills, and long enough to satisfy the dog. Not to mention the lake is beautiful, especially when the sailboats are out, and the squirrels can be quite entertaining. This also means there are a lot of people around.
People with dogs.
I don’t pay any attention to most of the dogs. Most of them are there for the walk and have owners that scoot them out of the way when we pass by, especially when my dog shows no interest in greeting their dog. I say most because I refuse to generalize and throw everyone in the same brilliant category. There are people who are thoughtful of others, take people and animal fears into consideration, and generally are there to use the space as it’s intended.
Then there are those who don’t.
They honestly believe because their dog is so friendly that it should be allowed to explore and greet every rock, tree, spider, human, and animal they come across. Those are the people who usually get a snarky comment and/or a dirty look from me. You don’t understand how often I’ve heard the excuse “Oh don’t worry, he’s friendly!” I always bite back a response, because if my dog does it the outcome isn’t so pretty. I don’t care if you own the world’s tamest, friendliest dog, you don’t know what the other dog/human is dealing with.
Maybe that child you let your dog run right up to recently had a negative run in with someone’s “friendly” pet? I’ve read more than enough articles about irresponsible owners in the last little while, and that’s in my city alone! What if the other dog isn’t friendly? What if he/she has anxiety? If that other dog bites your dog who will you blame, yourself for being an idiot? Not likely. No one likes to take the blame or be at fault.
No, if my dog on a four foot leash nips because your dog is off leash/on too long a lead, then it’s somehow my fault. I’m the irresponsible one.
And that’s just the dogs on regular leashes. Flex leashes are worse. If you don’t believe me, google “flex leash injuries.” That’s just the icing on the cake. You have no control over your dog when they’re ten feet ahead of you. We recently walked behind (way behind) someone who wasn’t even paying attention to her dog. She just ambled along while her dog made a run for mine. We stopped just short of the dog and I glared at the woman. I’m pregnant and it doesn’t take much to set me off, but when it comes to the safety and security of my Dash, all politeness flies out the window. She continued on like nothing happened, but gave the dog less leeway afterwards.
Don’t get me started on the dogs who are off leash. In my experience, this happens most with labs and with really old dogs. You know, the dog whose hearing and eyesight is going and might be as harmless as a newborn, but whom the owner has no voice control over because of these facts. I can name two incidents in the last week alone which involve dogs approaching mine off leash. The usual “oh he/she’s friendly” popped out of the owners mouths even as I placed myself between their dog and mine. I’m not trying to coddle him, I’m trying to prevent him from having a nervous breakdown. (for those of you who are confused about this, a scared/anxious/nervous dog acts much the same way an aggressive dog would. They show their teeth, they bark, they nip. Only add yelping like someone’s tearing off a limb to the equation!)
And if you don’t think your dogs needs to be tied up on your property, think again. I’ve had dogs, “friendly” dogs (no surprise), run at us from their houses. They haven’t even reached us yet before my dog is yelping like a struck banshee. And not all dogs stop when they get to the human. Balance is non-existing at 38 weeks pregnant. I didn’t exactly appreciate that particular test of my abilities and spent the rest of the walk ambling along much slower than I’d like because of the wonderful cramping it caused.
To the person whose lead extends to the sidewalk and beyond, screw you. I shouldn’t have to walk on the road because you can’t properly measure the length of your rope.
As you can see, this is a subject I can go on about forever, as there are plenty of people willing to provide me with… inspiration, let’s say. I have no illusions that the people who are guilty of any of these things will read this and go “Oh, I suppose she’s right” and change their habits. If it does, good. But I’ve read many posts where the people with friendly dogs vehemently defend their actions and choices to those with opposing views. I do understand that in internet culture, if you aren’t with us, you’re against us. In other words, people don’t consider the views of others because they aren’t face to face with them or don’t want to admit to being wrong. May they be blessed with a high stung friend in the future, one who will help them understand this point of view.
I have said my piece.