Irresponsible Dog Owner

Last year I found out from a neighbor that we had rattlesnakes in our neighborhood, and that neighbor had found out through postings to So I subscribed to in order to keep up on neighborhood news and things (like rattlesnakes) I needed to know about. Today the thing one of my neighbors wanted me and everyone else in the neighborhood to know was that she has labeled me an irresponsible dog owner.

I’ll start by saying that I understand this person’s frustration. Her rant to the neighborhood was about off-leash dogs. Having had to deal with many, many of these I know how difficult it can be. When A.J. was still very reactive on leash I’d have people with dogs running up to us yell “It’s okay, he’s friendly!” while I’m trying to yell back that mine dog isn’t. I’ve put myself between my dog and another that’s running towards us. (Not always the best strategy, by the way. Be sure you know what you’re doing if you’re going to try this.) I’ve kicked dogs that have pounced on mine. (Also not necessarily recommended.) I’ve changed direction when I’ve seen a dog in the distance but I can’t see a person nearby.

I also understand being afraid, because I have been bitten by other people’s dogs, more than once. It’s scary.

And, yes, A.J. was off leash outside our yard. That was wrong, and I know that.

Now let’s take a closer look at the rant, and at what happened.

“I’ve had enough of being charged by your off leash dogs when I’m walking my dogs on a leash. In the past month I’ve had four different encounters with four different dogs.”

I get tired of this too. I wouldn’t describe most of them as “charging,” but I get it.

“The last one was an owner who opened their front door, let their dog charge me, and didn’t seem to notice until I asked them to control their dog.”

Yep, this was me. Well, technically, it wasn’t me. This happened when my brother was visiting. The first thing to note is that my brother is not a dog person. He’s been attacked by dogs and doesn’t like them (although he and A.J. got along great while he was here). He was leaving very early in the morning. With arms loaded down he went to the front door while I was putting shoes on. A.J. went to the door with him. I’ve been working on A.J. not charging out the door, but I didn’t want my brother to have to deal with it so I just told him it was okay to open the door, I was right behind him.

When I got outside not more than two seconds later, A.J. was standing calmly on the sidewalk next to a woman who was pulling on her dog’s leash. Just as I stepped out and saw this she screams “Please call your dog away from mine!” I did, A.J. came right away, I apologized and brought him in the house.

So “let their dog charge me” (that one seems a little extreme) and “didn’t seem to notice” was not something the dog owner did, it was someone visiting the dog owner, and it wasn’t his responsibility to notice. The owner noticed immediately and immediately addressed the situation and apologized for the brief lapse in attention.

“I love animals and realize that these encounters are the result of irresponsible dog ownership.”

Ouch. I’m not making excuses. I know that if she had an unfriendly dog that both dogs and people could have been hurt. And again, I understand the frustration; anyone who walks a dog has been through it. Dogs are magnets for other dogs. I guess I’ve just developed a little more tolerance and understanding. Sometimes you turn your back for a minute, and sometimes things happen. Usually no one gets hurt, but sometimes they do.

So, yes, I try very hard to do the right thing. My dog and I have both worked harder than this woman can begin to imagine to make sure he has good manners, obeys commands, and doesn’t bother anyone. If you’ve read the past posts in this blog you have a tiny idea of just how much time and energy, not to mention heart and soul, I’ve put into this. And I know A.J. should not have been out in front unsupervised even for two seconds. I am sorry for that.

The frustration is understandable, the message is perfectly justified … the delivery could have been a little kinder. “Irresponsible dog ownership?” Ouch.

Note: Saw this today:  Some helpful advise for all of us. I’d suggest number one on the list as the best place to start, I know I got some great advise from the trainer I worked with.