I will preface this post by noting that I love dogs. I would say I am a dog person. My husband and I have had 3 dogs over the last 16 years. This is our current lovable goof (who by the way got into the garbage can and spread anything he couldn’t eat all over the kitchen today).
I believe dogs have justly earned the title of “Man’s Best Friend”. They are faithful, loving, protective and all-round wonderful pets. That said, if your dog is running at my heels barking at me, I am not happy.
Today I went for a run on a trail in the midst of the suburbs near work. Now that the snow is gone I run on this trail at least 2 times a week. Even on a weekday afternoon I will pass a number of other people using the trail, many of them with their dogs. I assume that legally the dogs are supposed to be on leash but many of them are not and I have never had a problem. As soon as owners see me they call their dogs and if necessary hold on to them until I pass. It is a system that seems to work for all.
Today on my run I found myself approaching a women with two very small dogs without leashes. I will admit here to a bit of a bias; I like big dogs, small dogs I don’t always trust as much. I always have a feeling that those little guys are out to prove themselves to make up for their size. The women called the dogs, they ran back to her and I figured there would be no problem. But one of the dogs then spun around and came right at me, barking the whole time. He came close enough to my feet that I had to brake and then get around him. Then he started running after me. The whole time the owner was quietly and calmly calling his name. I stopped and turned around and yelled at him to go. I then told the women that the dog needed to be on a leash when a runner was approaching to keep it under control. I don’t think the dog had any intentions of biting me, but of course how would I know that for sure? Honestly, I was more worried about him getting tangled in my feet causing me to fall down. There was no response from his owner, not even an apology. Being a dog owner, I get that our animals don’t always do what they are told, so an apology is generally good enough for me, but none was forthcoming. I was more than a little irritated but continued on my run.
Since I was doing an out and back, I knew there was a chance I would run into the dog again. Sure enough, towards the end I approached the woman and her dogs once more. She saw me, stepped to the side of the trail and called the dogs. Once again, one stayed with her and the other ran at me, then followed me barking. At that point I blew. In a not-particularly-nice tone I told her again that she was responsible for keeping her dog under control when a runner was passing. She just stared at me. I had just come up a tough hill, and was a panting, sweaty mess and was probably not looking too friendly at this stage. I told her it was a safety issue and asked if she understood ( I wasn’t entirely sure she spoke English).
She then went on to tell me that she brought her dogs to the trails in the woods to let them run free. I responded that she was on a trail used by many runners, cyclists and walkers – she had to maintain control of her dog. And then came the response that I knew was coming:
“But he’s harmless!”
And I am supposed to know this how when the dog is yapping at my ankles??? I told her she can’t expect everyone else to know that and then explained that my fear was more about being tripped than being bitten (though it would certainly be a valid feeling to be worried about being bitten by a dog you do not know who is chasing you). I told her I had tripped once and broke my hand. O.K., I didn’t mention it was a rock I tripped over, not a dog, but I wanted her to understand the risk. She did assume I meant a dog and her response was… get this…
“Maybe that was a big dog.”
My response, still not in a very nice tone: “Actually big dogs are a lot easier to get around than little ones running around your feet. It is dangerous, you need to hold or leash you dog when a runner goes by if you can’t control it. Everyone else does it, you need to as well.”
As all this was going on she kept giving the dog treats. In dog language that translates to, “Oh look, if I chase people I get treats. Life is great.”
By this stage my blood pressure was through the roof. So much for a relaxing run. I finished with, “Sometimes an apology helps the situation.” Nothing. That was the final straw for me, I repeated the fact that an apology would be nice but “clearly you are not willing to give one,” and left.
I am sure she will go home and talk about the crazy, mean-spirited runner who doesn’t appreciate her cute and harmless dog. Of course what I truly don’t appreciate is a clueless dog owner!
And with that, the rant is over.
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