How many times have you griped about neighbors’ off-leash dogs?
Or, ranted on social media about the clueless person who continually brings a biting, snarling pup to the dog park?
We have all been frustrated by random acts of jerkiness in the city; ESPECIALLY when it negatively impacts our dog’s training or well-being. But, no one is perfect. Before you judge that person on the street; triple check that your neighbor would not mumble “what a jerk” when walking away from you and your pup.
Awareness A few times a week; I see a woman walking her REALLY hyper, but seemingly friendly, and VERY vocal dog. And, EVERY time we encounter the pair, the woman STOPS; allowing her dog to stare at Gavin and BARK! BARK! BARK!
I’ve never talked to my fellow dog guardian. So, she would have no idea the trauma Gavin experienced a couple summers ago nor the anxiety we have overcome this year. So, I try not to fault her. But, her staring, barking, lunging dog REALLY scares Gavin. Whenever I see her, I run-walk in the opposite direction.
Recently, Gavin and I were hanging out at the park. And, this woman came walking HEAD ON at us, in the corner of a field. I was super confused, she HAD to have seen me go out of my way to avoid her over and over again. And, we were occupying a very quiet, tiny section of a HUGE park. The woman had ACRES of space to hang out with her dog. Leaning against a fence, Gavin and I had no escape.
The woman walked closer and stopped. SHE stared at me, and her dog started lunging and barking. Gavin looked up at me with his “oh crap” eyes. I said “Ma’am, if you just give your dog more space, it will be much easier for everyone.” I wasn’t rude nor did I want to be. Thankfully, she walked away.
We ALL have to remember that our dogs are our responsibility. We have to pay attention to others. If a fellow human being looks like he or she is trying to avoid you and your dog, be respectful. Maybe the person is allergic to dogs. Maybe he or she was attacked. Maybe the person just had a bad day and wants to be left alone.
Speaking of responsibility Lucky, a dear client’s beloved pup of six years, adored dogs so much that she moved to a neighborhood with MORE dogs. On a walk, she saw a man and his two dogs. She observed the man’s body language and gave him some space, moving Lucky into the parkway so she could pass the trio. But, despite her efforts, their whole life changed when once her happy-go-lucky dog was brutally attacked by the two on-leash dogs. Lucky lost an ear in the attack. And, he became panicked and barky from the moment they opened the front door of her apartment building until they came back home. It was awful.
But, trauma wasn’t all Lucky and his loving mom experienced that day.
The guardian of the two dogs yelled at her, “WHY DIDN’T YOU CROSS THE STREET? I HAVE TWO DOGS! YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOW BETTER!” He then filed a police report citing that the attack was her fault. Lucky’s mom wanted to focus on nursing her dog back to health, emotionally and physically; not defending herself to the police for doing nothing more than minding her own business, walking her dog down the street.
The decent human response would have been “I am sorry. I will pay for your veterinary bills. Here is my contact information. Oh, my goodness, I am so sorry that one of my dogs ripped off your dog’s ear.”
Fortunately, our not-so-Lucky four-legged friend is doing MUCH better, thanks to lots of love and a mom committed to his training. But, the whole ordeal would have been easier for Lucky’s mom if the man had taken responsibility for his dogs’ actions.
Sometimes we try and fail Let’s face it, none of us are perfect. I have my own tale of a woman who probably thinks I’m a giant jerk. I tend to walk Gavin during the morning school rush hour; partially because of my schedule, partially because Gavin loves the people. Kids, parents, teachers stopped to pet Gavin, as they often do. Lil’ Big Head was SO EXCITED. I’m certain he thinks all the people are there for him, and only him.
Gavin was oblivious, gleefully wiggling along the sidewalk, hoping every person who approached us was going to ask his favorite question before they continued on their path. And, I was not quick enough.
The woman walking in front of us grabbed her son’s shoulder and walked further into the parkway to get away from us. I started to cue Gavin to walk closer to me but she was walking slower than I anticipated. When Gavin turned towards me, as asked, his whip-tail grazed the back of the woman’s shin. I apologized as it was happening. I REALLY tried to be respectful of what I thought she wanted from us. And, Gavin’s tail is REALLY long.
But, the woman gave me a death glare over her right shoulder that still makes me shudder. I could have yelled at her, as we all see happen on the street ALL the time. I’m guessing that would have just made the woman angrier with me. And, likely she would have misjudged Gavin if I responded with an outburst. It wasn’t Gavin’s fault, it was mine. So, I walked away and vowed to do better next time.
Look up, friends. Let’s all do our best to not be called a “jerk” today. We all have to share the streets.