Yes, I’m talking to you, oh pornstached owner of the two Keeshonden that were barrelling down the trails of the Participark at 11 AM yesterday.
The Participark is a chunk of forest with clearly-defined running/walking trails, less clearly defined cowpaths and “fitness stations”. It’s also right across the road from the SPCA, but the SPCA dogs are always exercised on-lead and the walkers are instructed to pull off the trail at the approach of another dog. Of course, most of the people who walk/run with their dogs either have dogs on lead or dogs with reliable recalls.
I was out running (or trying to run) with Tierce. This was a process involving a lot of pulling on the lead, as Mr. Puppy has not comprehended the wisdom of keeping me in his sights so he knows when I’m going to turn or stop. We are working on this, but not for a day or two, as I managed to roll my left ankle a couple of times. So much for athleticism.
I’ve got my tunes in, because I’m running on the right side of a trail in a public park and my dog is securely attached to me. Simple, right? Wrong. Wrong-o. I was not prepared for the two gray-and-black bullets that shot towards us as we turned a corner. Not knowing what their intentions were, I scooped Tierce up as the owner strolled past. As he came towards us, he gave me that aren’t-you-glad-to-meet-my-wonderful-dogs smile and cheerfully said, “They’re okay.”
Did he wait until I was close enough for him to inquire as to whether my dog was aggressive, fearful, stressed, injured, nervous when two bigger dogs reenact the running of the bulls in Madrid, or even whether I had some sort of philosophical objection to his dogs coming near me?
The answer is, of course, no. He did not. He, along with a whole host of other dog owners who should be beaten with canes and pilloried, cheerfully assumed that because he knew that his dogs were “okay”, that I should assume likewise and that my dog should accept their abrupt intrusion into his personal space with equanimity.
The truth is that I love just about every dog I meet and Tierce is friendly towards other dogs. However, that doesn’t mean that people should feel entitled to allow their dogs to run up to strangers without a specific invitation. If the gentleman had asked, I would have been happy to stop and have Tierce meet him and his dogs. However the blithe assumption that my dog and I were automatically overjoyed to make his dogs’ abrupt acquaintance made me furious.
I think that instead of giving a ghastly grin as you pull your friendly/nervous/snarling/terrified dog away from a loose dog, that you should treat this like the invasion of personal space that it is. Tell these people exactly what they are doing wrong and why you are not simply thrilled that their dogs are jumping all over you and your dog.
In my case, I said only, “You don’t know if my dog is ‘okay’!” and swept on. Maybe next time I’ll take the time to enumerate the many ways that an uncontrolled dog running up to a strange dog and its owner can result in multiple lawsuits.