Never Trust a Loose Dog

September 26, 2010

  Call me a whiner, call me unsympathetic, call me whatever you like, but I really do believe I am more than usually accurate when I claim that the moment a human becomes a dog owner several synaptic switches are thrown. How else to explain the experience I have this very day enjoyed (sic).  

Close to my house there is an excellent park that includes a surfaced path upon which folks can walk, ride bikes, run, and generally enjoy the air. It will one day circle our town. In the forested part of the park the pathway is maintained with woodchips. If you take the path all the way to the end you will find yourself at the Willamette River. The path was once a logging road. Trucks bearing logs from the Molalla Forest would drive to the river where a derrick would hoist the timber into the river. The logs would be bound into rafts and tugged off to mills. I feel grateful that our city has had the foresight to take this old road and make it into a treasure.

Probably about every other day I will walk or run the length of the path and trail. By taking the path and looping in and out of the forest trails I can make up walks or runs of any distance from two to five miles or more. I love this park.

And every time that I do I will of course pass other users; walkers, riders and of course dog owners. I do not worry about the walkers, runners or riders. At the entrance to the park, in the parking lot, at the barrier to the path, there are signs that ask dog owners to put their pets on a leash and to clean up after them when necessary. It is a mystery to me then why nearly half of all the folks accompanying their animals allow them to run loose.

This afternoon I had run a few loops and was now walking to cool down. Coming toward me was a group of walkers, a family group. The path where we were both walking was straight and so we had clear sight of each other for several minutes. They were a man, two women, a child, one dog on a leash and another roaming free. As I walked by it was this dog that leapt up and snapped at my arm. It did not break the skin so I was excused a trip to the emergency room for a tetanus shot.

I had a conversation with the lady who had the leash for this animal in her hand. She did apologize, but then told me the following amazing things. “He’s not my dog”, “We know he’s nuts”. So why then was he off leash? It beggars belief. What if I had been a small child? What if I had not been wearing a shirt and my skin had been broken? This is an extreme example of the mindset I have often witnessed whenever a dog misbehaves. It’s human will say, “Oh, he’s never done that before”, “Don’t you like dogs?”, “He doesn’t usually do that”, and the phrase that many use but cannot prove, “Don’t worry, she’s friendly!”, or worse, “He won’t bite”. This is stated usually just before the animal leaps up on you, bites you, sniffs your crotch, or begins to bark manically. And we are back to, “He’s never done that before”.

In almost every other way these dog owners are normally logical folk. It is only when their dog is close that logic leaves the scene and their minds. There must be an involuntary synaptic switch that flips the moment a human becomes the owner or in charge of a dog. How else can we explain the lame excuses, the lack of responsibility, the reduction in apparent intellect of which I have given just one example.

And I have not even touched upon the mess that many dog owners allow their pets to make, with even less explanation.

Dogs may be the smartest creatures on the planet. They certainly seem to have powerful control over their guardians. And no, I never owned a dog. Two cats allowed me to feed and shelter them in my past.

2 Responses to “Never Trust a Loose Dog”

  1. Paul said

    I’m on your side. But there are two of the beasts (one similar to what you’ve described) in my household. Don’t ask me why. It wasn’t my idea.

  2. bobsterry said

    Ha! That sounds like another warped synapse response, Paul. Canine detox sessions coming up. It is your only hope. I called our City today to find that the fine for allowing dear old harmless scallywag Rover off the leash is $500. Double it I say!

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