Friday, January 18, 2008

Responsibility Is PART of Pet Ownership, You Know

Beckett's fine. I think you should know that before I go on my rant. He's fine, but I'm very angry.

I took him on his walk this morning. I would say "as per usual," but with the cold weather/snow/me feeling crappy, his morning walks aren't as "usual" as they should be. But we've gone to bed ridiculously early for the past couple nights, so despite the cold I did manage to get up and out the door.

When we were almost home, less than a block away, I was already thinking about my grapefruit juice and cherry pop tart. My head was down, burrowed into my coat, because the wind was hitting us directly in the face. Therefore, with my vision restricted to the mere two feet of sidewalk directly in front of my feet, my first indication of imminent danger was the sound of a man shouting frantically.

I looked up to see a much larger dog bearing down on Beckett. His twin was close on his heels, and following behind the two of them was the frantic man, running in a t-shirt, boxer shorts, and loafers.

I'm never sure exactly what to do. Get between the dogs? Try and grab the dog myself and risk getting bitten? The first dog got to Beckett and immediately starting nipping at his hind quarters. He wasn't there to bark—he meant business.

The guy tackled the first dog and started dragging him away, but of course that meant it was the second dog's chance to attack. And Beckett, next to my legs and on a short leash, was a sitting duck. He nipped back, but he was at least 20 pounds lighter. It was definitely not a fair fight.

It probably went on this way for a few minutes. It's hard to tell when everything is happening so quickly, yet in slow motion. The guy would wrangle one beast, just to have the other loose. I would try and get between the attacking dog and Beckett, shouting "No!" and pointing my finger menacingly, but I didn't want to get too close.

Finally, Beckett and I broke away. I'm not even sure exactly how. If the guy managed to catch both dogs at the same time, or if one lost interest ... I don't know. I didn't look back to check. We just ran around the corner to our street to catch our breath.

Actually, I needed to catch my breath. And as we resumed walking, I noticed my legs were trembling. Beckett, however, was not phased. He trotted along, sniffing snow piles, peeing on trees, and even grabbing a frozen squirrel carcass for a treat. (Even though I felt bad for him after the experience, I still made him drop it.) I was very glad that Beckett was untraumatized and unhurt, but the experience left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

We live in a city. A CITY. With lots of people and animals in a small, condensed area. Why do dog owners refuse to take responsibility for maintaining control over their pets? It's the people who let them out into the yard without any boundaries, or the ones who let them off the leash while walking ... when they come and act aggressive towards our dog—and they always do—the owners act so surprised. What the hell did you think was going to happen?!? You're going to tell me this is the FIRST time you've ever let him off the leash, and really he's such a gentle dog at home?

That is completely irresponsible, and you are putting myself and my dog in danger because you won't be in control of your pet. And I just don't know what I can do about it. I understand that sometimes the dog escapes unexpectedly. I'm not talking about that kind of situation. I'm talking about when the dog owner willingly abdicates control.

As the innocent party, walking my under-control dog on a leash at all times, what am I supposed to do about it? If one of those dogs today was determined to seriously hurt Beckett, I don't think I could have stopped it. And the owner would have pretended to be surprised (although his immediate frantic reaction shows that he knows his dogs are aggressive). He would have said he'd never seen it coming.

We won't stop walking and running Beckett. He loves it, he needs it, and I think we would become irresponsible pet owners if we denied our dog this exercise. (Plus our furniture would be much the worse for the wear.) But I don't think a question of whether this scenario will be repeated again; it's a question of when. And whether we're all lucky enough to escape unharmed.


Jonathan said...

Timely post. I have been getting more and more annoyed with "people" - for more than just them walking dogs - for a while.

It's just the THOUGHTLESSNESS that annoys the hell out of me.

M. Lubbers said...

My level of frustration with "people" is, understandably, directly related to the amount of time I'm forced to interact with them. So for me, it always increases when I have a longer commute--if I were you, I would have completely given up on mankind during that year or so of commuting to London!

I tend to think it's not thoughtlessness as much as a sense of entitlement. Sure, traffic laws and animal control laws are important for OTHER PEOPLE, but I'm an important and busy person. They don't apply to me.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is the last time you leave the gun and take the cannoli.


M. Lubbers said...

Mmmm, you're making me hungry for Italian food. Cannoli ...

(But seriously, I've decided to buy some pepper spray to take with me.)