Do you ever have mornings where you are determined to be in a bad mood? I slept in ten minutes too long, I couldn’t find the shirt I wanted to wear, and I spilled coffee grounds (I hate coffee grounds) all over the counter. By six am, I decided the whole day was a write-off. Marching out the door, I directed Shiva toward the forest. I just wanted to get the next ten hours over with as fast as possible.
Now I realize this isn’t fair or logical, but I have become a bit, well, possessive over our morning walking spaces. For the last two years, Shiva and I have walked in the same areas at the same time almost every single day. I try to change it up so that we never walk the same route twice in a row but there are only so many streets. It doesn’t take long to run out. We walk through the forest at least three days a week. I like it because it is private and I can let her off-leash when no one else is around. Usually at six am there is nobody else around.
For the past three weeks, someone else has joined us in the forest during our time of day. Again, I know how obnoxious these feelings are yet I can’t help feeling a little resentful at the intrusion. For one, this man and his dog walk so slow. There is no hope of hanging back a little to let them get ahead. For another, his dog is of the little, yappy, and reactive variety. He starts barking at us when we are no less than fifty feet away. This man walks him on one of those retracting leashes and doesn’t appear to have any control over his dog. So there is also no real hope of passing them on the forest path. Thus far, every time I have seen them ahead of us, I have turned around and left the forest completely. Which sucks.
I want to be kind. I want to be understanding. I’ve been there. I know what it is like to struggle with a dog who just doesn’t like anybody else. That’s why we walk in the forest so early in the day. Furthermore, I know I don’t own the space as much as I wish I did. It’s a public park and I have to share it. But doesn’t that go both ways?
This morning, in my overly cranky frame of mind, I decided it did. I decided I was done with being nice. Rightly or wrongly, this morning when I saw his reflective jacket glowing through the trees, I decided I was just going to keep walking. Shiva is normally smart enough to leave barking little dogs alone so I wasn’t worried about her doing anything. As long as the other dog also left her alone. That was the only thing I couldn’t trust. It may not have been smart, but I just kept marching forward. I didn’t even stop when the man made it clear he wasn’t going to move off to the side to let us pass.
Amazingly… Nothing happened. Treats in my hand, I kept Shiva on my opposite site and walked a little ways into the brush as we passed. The man’s little dog was going nuts barking and growling and trying to be as loud as possible, but somehow we made it to the other side of them with our ankles intact and unmolested.
I couldn’t believe it! We had successfully taken back the forest!
Of course, now I feel like a jerk for being so annoyed. I always try to give others the benefit of the doubt. If someone is walking his dog, I always assume he is at least trying. So many dog owners don’t even bother to take their dogs out of their backyards. This man at least is doing something and I have to commend him for that. I just wish he’d do it at a different time of day. Is that so much to ask?