Friday, November 6, 2009

Asshat Rant - Parks, Leashes and Night Walks

OK. It's been a while since I published a Rant. That's not because I haven't had much to say but mostly because I've just been too busy to formulate my frustrations into comprehensive and meaningful words. Mostly I had something revolving around my head that goes like this:

"ARGH! Dumbass. Asshat. Dog. Owners. Rehome. Baggies. Pick it up! Hypocrit. Toys. Walk. EXERCISE! Tired Dog. Good Dog. Pulling. Dragging. Jumping. Marking. Barking. Biting. Aggression. Rehome. Euthanasia. Dumbass. Asshat. ARGH!"


Which obviously doesn't make any sense at all to someone living outside of my brain. Well, maybe it makes sense if you fill in the blanks but it doesn't do anything other than to give me a place to vent. It is important for me to make it clear WHY I need to vent ... otherwise I'm just another crazy rescue person who hates human beings. (Regardless of how true that is, I don't need to perpetuate this) I don't want to be put into that stereotype-group.

So, what do I have to talk about today? OH SO MUCH --- but where to start!? First, a little note to set the stage ...

Here I am at the park under a pavilion working my new dog (who is fearful of all things new - humans/dogs/cars/noises/etc. and blindly runs) through a series of obstacles and developing some basic obedience. The parking area and this pavilion that I'm under are the only areas that are not dark. The park itself is quite large with much grassy areas and a few trees. The back of the park is a treed ravine. To clarify ... this is NOT a dog park. This is a people park. One section is an Arboretum with flower beds, etc. It's supposed to be a break from the city.

So, now you know where I was when the following happened ... Please note that I think it's great that these people brought their dogs out and about; however I do not think it appropriate that their dogs be off leash in this sort of an environment.

A small JRT mix came bounding up and stopped 25 ft away to bark at us. At this point my dog is absolutely PANICKING and trying to blindly run in every direction at once to get away from the crazed JRT. The owners come up at a slow mosey calling their dog over and over but not really caring that he is barking at us. If I didn't understand the words they were saying, I might have thought they were barking at us in tandem with their dog!! In fact, the owners didn't bother to leash their dog at all, but instead called out asking what breed my dog was. Rather than getting pissy, I used this as a training opportunity for my dog. I ended up talking with them and watched their dog do this to four other dogs that arrived (only one was leashed). Each time their dog barked at another dog, mine would freak out. The JRT owners thought this was funny.

This sort of thing happens. I accept that. It is something we need to train our dogs to be prepared for. I don't have an issue with this. What I DO have an issue with is the following:

- Some people are afraid of dogs. Respect this. Not everyone thinks your poopsie poo is the cutest thing ever. Not everyone wants to pet him/her. And most people don't want your dog barking at them.

- The owners don't know that my dog isn't dog aggressive. Having their dog off leash in an area that is supposed to be ON leash is very dangerous. Not only are there other dogs that may start a fight (especially if that dog's habit is to run up and bark at other dogs) but we were in a dark parking lot and the dog may be hit by a car.

- They obviously don't have a dog that responds to their call - he ignored them. These people called their dog over 25 times (I stopped counting at 25; there were more, but I was tired and wasn't about to get into it). That means they really shouldn't have the dog off leash if he won't come when they call.

- What if he found a skunk, raccoon or porcupine? I've seen all three in this park at night. If he doesn't come when he's called ... it may not be a pleasant ride home and may result in a trip to the vet or emergency clinic.

- What if the dog poos? Since it is so dark and the dog is nowhere in sight, they can't see if he poos. That means they don't pick up its poo. Great. This is supposed to be a nice park where you can take your kids for a picnic ... "No Johnny, it's not a Tootsie Roll. Put it down and come eat your sandwich." EEEWWWW

Did I miss any reasons why dogs should be leashed in areas that are not designated as OFF leash? Probably. Feel free to add them in the comments section!
This is why Non-Dog-Owners don't like people taking their dogs all over the place. This is why dogs are banned from parks, beaches, schools and other locations which would otherwise offer wonderful training opportunities. I wish dog owners would stop putting the blame on people who don't like dogs making these rules and step up to take the responsibility. If we blame others than we don't have to better ourselves ... asshats.

To the JRT owners (and the 3 other owners I watched get out of their vehicle to let their dogs run around off leash after dark) ... YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. Stop making it worse for the rest of us!!



OldMorgans said...

Are you nuts?! You expect people to take responsibility!?
Yeah, right....

I agree w/all you said.

bermudabluez said...

I totally agree on every single one of your points....EVERY one!! Makes me crazy too!! And don't even get me started on the campgrounds!!

tula said...

being a big reactive doggie myself, my mom feels the same way. alot goes into managing me on my walkies so everyone is safe & i can train. we run into especially little dogs off leash in their yards, free to run loose on busy streets. mind boggling...


giantspeckledchihuahua said...

ditto!!! If you want to run your ddog without a leash take it to the dog park or some way far out place. be sure to train for a instant recall, first though...Any one of these seems to be way to much to ask!

Viatecio said...

We don't have a dog park either, but our parks do have off-leash hours, after 8 during summer, after 5 during the winter. A moderately-sized group of people and dogs usually congregates, and it's obvious that, despite the "You must have control of your dog at all times" rule, it is only barely the case: if anyone calls for their dog to "come," immediately a treat comes out of every pocket, letting the dog take a pick of who to go to first. This is not "Control", and it irks me that I'm actually attempting to train (and having a modicum of success) a solid, off-leash reliable dog that does not rely on a cookie.

Good rant, anyway. Sadly, this isn't the only case in life where bad apples ruin everything for everyone else who actually tries to take some responsibility!

Flo said...

You have put into words many of the issues I have with dog owners. For the first time I own a dog that has lots of fear issues. We are working hard to train him and get him to not be so incredibly fearful of just about everything. After taking him to dog friendly parks and repeatedly running into asshats we now take him to a local school. There are only a few other dogs and we use them as training tools (without them knowing :). But here these dogs are on leashes and not running loose. We also walk along the fences where people are walking or riding bikes on the other side. This exposes him to these things in a safe manner. I just hope that people don't catch on to the school and start bringing all their dogs there.

GoLightly said...

standing ovation...

My park was ruined by idiots like that.

Hah, expec is word verf.

Great expec-tations there DDF!

Fisher said...

You have said it all! I don't have a dog, but we live in a downtown area. I have seen a large lab pulling his scrawny owner off his feet when the walk and also a tiny chihuahua getting walked by a tall woman and the poor little dog's feet barely touched the ground.
The points you made relate to people who have no real interest in things outside their selfish selves. I hope you can find a way to get your message out to non-pet people. BTW, are they the ones who always want us to give them a medal when they have their 4th child? But, that's another story.

Anonymous said...

Ok, long comment:

I have a different issue with our off-leash dog park. My housemate and I walk our dog in the evenings with a group of other dogs from around the neighbourhood. The park allows dogs off leash, but it is also a family park, with playgrounds, baseball diamond, tennis courts, soccer fields, etc.

Our group runs our dogs on the soccer fields when no one else is using them. Our dog, Malakai, is relatively well-behaved, but his recall isn't perfect - he's taken off after squirrels a few times. Its something we're working on. So we use the walks as a training opportunity, and we do let him run off-leash. He gets to greet all the dogs, and they run off-leash too, and greet everyone.

So one evening (it was still light out) a lady walked by with her dog on a leash, and she came past our group. Malakai and another dog ran up to greet her and her dog. As soon as she saw them running towards her she started screaming for us to control our dogs because hers had stitches. I called Malakai back and he came (without greeting her dog). The other dog was just a little slower.

This lady then yelled at us for being dangerous and irresponsible for letting our dogs run around off leash, and for letting them run up to any strange dog, and putting her dog in danger.

I guess I feel that this was undeserved. She walked her dog close enough to the group that we thought she was coming to join us, and when I called our dog off he came without putting up a fuss, or it seemed to me, putting her dog in danger of tearing his stitches.

If I had a dog who was recovering from surgery I don't think that walking him at the off leash park would be advisable, but is this something that my housemate and I should be working on with Malakai? Should we teach him not to approach any person or dog when he is off-leash? Or is there some aspect of dog-walking etiquette that I have missed out on?

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

I guess I have high expectations, eh?

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this! Interesting comments about campgrounds (yikes!), reactivity, and instant recall. We don't have off-leash hours in our parks - likely because the town was so proud of themselves for setting up the off leash dog park.

Anon ...

That's a great look at this in a different way.

Where I was working the dog was not an off leash dog park. It is a park that requires your dog to be leashed regardless of the time of day. There is an off leash dog park about three blocks away.

Anyway, to your comments ...

In the instance you describe with the lady and her leashed/stitched dog ... if she knew this was an off leash area than she should never have gone in. Were I her, I wouldn't have entered the park at all. Leashed or not. I wouldn't enter any park knowing my dog has stitches. If they have stitches, they should be resting. They should go out for their walks in areas where they won't feel the need to run or chase or play. If that means not meeting/greeting other dogs/people/squirrels/cats during that time, than so be it. There are other ways to stimulate and exercise your dog and it won't be healing forever. It is the responsibility of the owner to make these choices for the safety of their dog. That lady made a poor choice. She may not have realized this until after she ran into you. She vented her frustration at you and your friends.

Did you do anything wrong? In my opinion, no. Your dog came when you called. No harm, no foul.

Now, regarding training ... that's a tricky one. This will depend on what you want your dog to do in these situations. Think it out ahead of time and try to figure out what you want. While I do allow my guys to go up to people and other dogs slowly, I expect them to come immediately when I call. If they are running too quickly then I can either use the "take time" command (which means slow down) or stop. (No, they are not all herding breeds - non-herding dogs can learn these things too)

Most of the time I don't allow them to greet people if I don't know them. You never know what that person is going to do to your dog. I've seen some pretty nasty things during my time as a volunteer and I don't really want my dogs to have to deal with psycho-crazy-people.