You, sir, are neither a scholar nor a gentleman.
That’s what I say. What ConneryBeagle has to say is more to the point:
Each weekend we can, we go tracking with a friend and her Papillion and her Border Collie. Zoom the BC, to be specific.
As you may recall, ConneryBeagle has no interest in socializing with other dogs in any rare moment when he’s not actually fearful of them (thanks to the series of giant breed dogs who slipped their handlers to come mow us down, back in his first three years).
But quite soon in this training arrangement, it became evident that Connery not only trusted Zoom—one of those dogs who is so grounded that he gives off calming vibes—but that he kind of has a boy-crush on Zoom.
ConneryBeagle: Zoom is a GOOD BOY!
Lookit that face!
Dart thinks so, too, and every time we track we reward the boys with BC/Beagle time afterward.
So, back to the tracking. Remember a couple weeks ago when we were talking about living with other people’s dogs? Yeah. This is more of that. Because last weekend while tracking around the edge of the campus soccer field, we noticed that a guy with four big dogs off-lead had taken over the center of the field, and that one of his dogs, a white Pittie mix, was giving Zoom the hard eye from a distance.
I like a nice Pittie as well as the next dog person. But this dog is a problem waiting to happen. And Zoom didn’t ever so much as look at this dog. He was working.
I was the tracklayer and back-up person, and I did my best to interrupt the hard stares simply by putting myself between the two dogs and breaking line of sight, and there was enough distance involved so didn’t become a huge concern. But we were aware.
The dog’s owner? Not so much.
We completed the track (Zoom did a nice job!) and headed back to the cars, taking a big wide curve around the center of the field because of Idiot and his dogs.
It wasn’t enough of a curve.
All four dogs came running for Zoom—mostly galumphy Lab types, but led by the Pittie with the hard eye.
Maybe I should step aside and say it’s very much one thing to be approached by one dog (as inappropriate as that might be). But four dogs, once excited by circumstances, will pack up on a fifth dog. It doesn’t matter how nice they are. It doesn’t matter if one-on-one they’re fine. Pack behavior will spiral out of control very quickly—especially if, say, they take offense at the fact that the dog they’re bearing down on is quietly, appropriately telling them to get lost.
Now imagine you’re Zoom, and these four dogs are heading your way with intent.
My friend and I aren’t new at this. She put Zoom on a down-stay, as quiet and still as possible (but yes, growling. Very appropriately, too). I stepped out between them with my arms spread, holding a batch of tracking flags (orange flags on wire, used to mark construction perimeters and underground utilities—you’ve seen them).
“My dogs are friendly!” said Mr. Idiot.
Excuse me while I use some language in response:
Are you effing kidding me?
Oh, okay, I almost used some language.
As if under any circumstances it’s okay to allow your FOUR large dogs run at a strange dog. As if the white Pittie hadn’t been targeting us from the get-go, and as if he wasn’t planning to ignore my Go-Aways to get to Zoom. As if any of his dogs were paying the least bit of attention to any and all of our signals that they were not welcome.
As if he EVER attempted to call the dogs away.
Because of course, he and his dogs are the center of the universe. It is all about them. Naturally, we were there specifically to welcome, admire, and be harassed by them.
I don’t think so. I went for the white Pittie and slapped the flags on the ground in front of him. He thought about going around me; I slapped the ground again.
It was enough. He turned around.
And Mr. Idiot? “Geeze, I’m sorry, they weren’t going to bother you.”
You are wrong, Mr. Idiot with your illegally off-leash dogs. We were beyond bothered—and if we hadn’t managed your hard-eyed dog and his “Yeah! Yeah! What you said!” buddies, there would have been an Incident of Significant Proportions.
But we didn’t linger to explain this, because…see above. Petulant Idiot. We moved on, keeping our movement casual and our body language quiet. Getting away from the still unrestrained pack.
He wasn’t done, though. After a moment, his even more petulant voice followed us across the field. “Oh, thank you very much! You scared the $#@! out of my dog! Nice job!”
Did I? Good. Maybe that dog will think twice before running at someone again.
Did I? Good. I meant to.
It’s people like Mr. Idiot who make it hard for everyone—who create situations where they blithely intrude on everyone else’s enjoyment of public space. Who make things hard for responsible dog owners everywhere, by tainting us with his blithe, entitled, immature irresponsibility. (How’s that for a string of disdainful adjectives?)
Children don’t need to face big loose dogs; people who fear dogs don’t deserve to deal with big loose dogs. No one’s dog deserves to face a pack running at them, and not everyone’s dog is going to take it with obedient restraint. What happens when the target dog snarls an entirely appropriate, “Back off! You are not welcome!”–?
It’s exactly the excuse a dog with a hard eye is looking for, that’s what.
Dear Mr. Idiot: A public place is not your dog’s personal playground. You are not entitled to have your dogs off-leash just because you want to. You are not Special. Your dogs are not Special. And whatever consequences your dogs face because of your humongous Personal Responsibility Fail, on your head be it.
Because no one’s dog ever gets to touch Mr. Zoom. Or ConneryBeagle. Ever again.
No, seriously--Lookit that face!
Well, that’s what I say…what I did about it. What would you have done? What have you done?