People Baffle Me

Walking down a quiet neighbourhood, Shiva and I are startled by the boisterous barking of a German Shepherd to our right. I glance over to see the large dog tied up on a rope in a front yard. There is a man working in the garden. The dog strains at the end of his lead, barking only inches from my arm. I look away, praise Shiva for remaining calm, and keep walking.

As we depart, I overhear the man say to his dog:

“That wasn’t very polite, was it? They didn’t even stop to say hello to you. How rude!”


A large crowd has gathered to watch the Canada Day fireworks over the Halifax Harbour. Some people have brought lawn chairs and set them up at the top of a hill. Others are standing near the bottom, closest to the water. A man and his young dog hang back, deciding to watch the show from a little ways away.

The dog is very obviously over-stimulated. Pulling and whining and jumping, he is ready to run in twenty different directions. The man holding his leash appears inexperienced. It is all he can do to keep the dog in one place.

As the sky grows darker and the time for the display draws near, more and more people arrive, pushing closer. When the first lights appear, the people shove together even more in their excitement.

At this point the dog has lost it. Howling and crying he is trying to do anything he can to get loose. The man tries to pull him away from the rush of people but no matter where he turns more people seem to appear. These people step closer for a better view and the dog starts to bark. Members of the crowd shoot the man dirty looks. The dog barks more.

Instead of backing away, the people draw even nearer, forming a circle around the man and his dog. 


There are children playing on the beach. Shiva and I have to pass this sandy area in order to get to the coolness of the forest. The kids are quite young; the oldest looks to be around four or five years old. A toddler spots my dog and screams, running directly towards us.

One of the adults stops the child from leaping on Shiva, instructing her that it is dangerous to run up to a strange dog. Relieved, I continue walking, Shiva sniffing at my side. I smile at the parent as we pass, glad she is aware not all dogs love to be mauled by little kids.

As we move beyond the beach, the woman says loudly to the child:

“How rude! Couldn’t she see you wanted to pet her dog? She must think she’s too good for us.”

I don’t understand…

Editor’s Note: Because I was remiss including one of my favourite Canadian dog blogs on my Canada Day post, I have to make sure to share the link now: 

Kol’s Notes is a fun website with an adorable design. The blog stars Kolchak the Puggle, a dog who is always up for adventure. His stories are always filled with humour and if I’m ever in Vancouver again, I love a chance to say hello in person. My sincerest apologies for missing you on Friday. I blame the beer.

31 thoughts on “People Baffle Me

    • LOL. They certainly can be. I didn’t know I was required to make my dog greet another, bigger dog who is barking at her. Nor did I know all children have the right to pet every single dog they see. Maybe I am the annoying one!


  1. I see this stuff all the time too. People want to have their dog say hi to mine all the time and I have to “take the blame” and turn them down because I don’t want to put my dog in that situation.. AKA either expose her to health issues due to people not being up to date on shots (running a kennel we find that 50-60% of people get their shots the week of boarding, if they were not boarding would they be current?)or subject her to being a polite dog in the face of a dog who has been staring her down during the course of the entire approach. It’s amazing how people can be in denial about their pets, kinda as strong as they can be about human kids.

    I was out watching fireworks last night and saw a guy carrying a German Shep pup…. it was not teeny tiny, maybe a couple months old. But why even bring a puppy to something like that??? Are you TRYING to make it firework shy?

    As far as the lady goes, that’s just sad. I’m glad she stopped your kid from mauling, but she should have been understanding about not wanting her to say hello. Luckily Luna and Wyatt both are good with kids so sometimes I try and win them over with their tricks etc. But nobody is saying you have to do that, especially while on a walk mission.

    Thanks for sharing, shows we all kinda deal with the same stupidity among people and their/our dogs.
    Happy 4th from the Americans 😉


    • Shiva is “okay” with children. I introduce her to them very, very carefully. I try to take into account her mood, energy level, and the child’s mood and energy level. The times I have stopped have been when the child is confident and willing to listen. Normally I ask them if they would like to give her a treat and then put a piece of kibble in their hand to give to her. Shiva loves anyone, or anything, with food and will generally behave herself if there is a food reward involved. She knows the rules. 😉

      But I didn’t even think of doing that this time. The child was very young and I had other things on my mind. Apparently, I am just a snob.

      I don’t mind letting Shiva greet other dogs either but we’ve been working very very hard on her self-control. I prefer her to wait for permission, especially with a strange dog that is tied up and barking. How was I supposed to know he was friendly? At the time I was so proud of her for sticking by my side. Again, I guess I’m just a snob.

      The fireworks was just unfortunate all around. That dog really would have been happier at home. 😦


  2. I get A LOT of screaming and running AWAY from Our Best Friend. Most kids in my neighbourhood, where dogs are as rare as elephants, ask before they touch, and then jump back in fear when Our Best Friend approaches to sniff them first. Thankfully he’s a real people-lover, never, ever jumps, and usually will sit calmly and allow people to pat him. However, if it’s a male over a certain age (say 10) that approaches, he gets very excited, because he thinks all boys want to play ball with him. It’s kind of funny.

    As for the peculiar, blind behaviour of other dog owners… well, one day I’ll get around to the post about the dog down the street… 🙂

    Just curious– what would have happened if you had said, “Would you like to pat the dog?” Would Shiva sit and let little hands pat her, or would she get anxious, not being used to kids?


    • Dogs are rare in your neighbourhood? That’s interesting. In mine they are as ubiquitous as mailboxes.

      Shiva definitely jumps! Hence why we failed the CGN test. 😛 We have never worked on training that as before she used to be scared of everyone. Jumping used to make me happy because it meant she wasn’t terrified anymore. So I admit to encouraging her. Since we don’t have children and don’t have any friends with children, it’s not been a big deal.

      The dog down the street, is this the infamous Buster?

      Shiva would let the hands pat her but she isn’t a fan of strangers petting in general. She’ll normally just walk away. When I do let kids greet her I put a treat in their hands first. That makes them instant friends. 🙂


      • Yes, the dog down the street is the infamous Buster… I’ve delayed writing about him because I don’t want him to reinforce the bad pitbull stereotype.

        A treat in the hand is worth a wag of the tail, I always say… 🙂


  3. Or from the wisdom of Seinfeld:

    Elaine, “I will never understand people.”

    Jerry, “They’re the worst!”

    Your experiences just demonstrate how little people understand dogs. But things are getting better. So be proud of yourself for taking Shiva’s side no matter what other people think. And spend some time looking for those good moments between people and dogs so you don’t go crazy.

    BTW, you should register the trademark for “Tornado on a Leash.” That’s terrific!


    • LOL. Gotta love the Seinfeldisms. 😉

      I wish I had thought of it! One of our trainers – I think we are up to four or five now – actually used the phrase first to describe her. I’ve been stealing it ever since!


  4. great (though irritating) stories… both dog owners and people around them behaving in ways that make me want to shake them by the shoulders.
    I’m lucky that Gwynn likes kids (he is fascinated by strollers… they are mind-boggling to him for some reason), but I still stop kids if they try to just run up to him, arms flailing and excited. And then they can pet him on the side, instead of sticking their fingers in his face, because I want him to continue to like kids 😛


    • Good for you. That’s what a responsible dog owner does, protects her dog and makes sure every experience is as positive as possible. Shiva is okay with kids but only under extreme supervision. She just doesn’t have a lot of experience with them. I’d hate for a young child to freak her out and for her to start barking, and then the parent get mad and then next thing I know Shiva is labeled a dangerous dog. The idea of that makes me very cautious around the little ones.


  5. Terrific that Shiva is able to react positively to these situations – too bad as humans we don’t have as much common sense.
    Like my Dad used to say – you can’t fix stupid.


    • Heh, what is with us dumb humans anyway? It’s not like we haven’t had enough education or training. Maybe just not the right kind of training. 😛


  6. Firstly.. people should not tie up their dogs in a way that it can get to people walking on the sidewalk. Dogs shouldn’t be tied up anyways.

    Secondly.. its plain dumb of the man to take his dog to a fireworks parade. The dog is not going to go oooooooooohhh and ahhhh… it is just going to be traumatised by the louds sounds.Anything could have happen to the animal.

    Lastly.. dumb mom. *LOL*

    People baffle me all the time.


  7. How utterly sad, especially the woman with the child. How ignorant – what if you had of been protecting her child from your dog who isn’t fond of kids?!

    Such a demanding population, with little to no common sense.


  8. As for the parent and the GSD owner – all I you can do is shake your head and wonder what goes on in people’s minds.

    But as for the crowd at the firework show – that was entirely the dog owner’s fault. He should not have been there. I can totally understand wanting to take your dog with you everywhere. But it doesn’t mean that you should.


  9. Grr! People are so frustrating sometimes! Unfortunately, they’re kind of a planetary epidemic…

    I can’t really say that I feel your pain, though, as situations tend to be the opposite with Jack. It’s rare that anyone approaches him. Adults move away when we’re walking past, children are pulled to the side and sheltered behind their parents, and people walking dogs change directions. Apparently the world around me does not want my dog to be well-socialized. The worst part of it? Even my MOM told me on the phone a couple of weeks ago that my dog is “not a cute or cuddly dog, and definitely not a family dog” and why couldn’t I have gotten a border collie or something. I was seriously dumbfounded.

    I can only imagine what the pit bull owners go through.


  10. hey, how about we start a blog posting about idiots like these ones? i already have too many stories. glad to know (i suppose) that stoopidity knows no national boundaries! arrrrgggghhh!

    hope you had a lovely holiday weekend (despite those run-ins) xox


    • I would happily contribute some of these stories… I like to fix people with what I call the Judgy Bear stare. I was actually thinking of using that as a new feature on my blog. Why are people so ridiculous?


  11. I know someone whose sig line was ‘people are strange; there are no exceptions’ They just are. As often as people baffle me, I’m sure I baffle others 🙂

    Happy 4th of July from a northern neighbour. I’m glad our fireworks are all over LOL


  12. I never ever approach another dog without first asking the owner whether they can be patted. Sometimes if I see a child interested I might ask if they want to pet, but generally not.

    Depending on what type of mood I’m in, I may or may not say something to those people who made comments. Sometimes my inner witch comes out and I feel it necessary to “school” them as it were to proper etiquette.

    As for fireworks, that is a definite no-no. People are so dumb sometimes I want to scream, “Bend over and I will help you pull your head out of your a$$.” 🙂


  13. Thank you so much for the shout out! We missed your Canada post due to those beers you speak of. I’m getting old, it took all weekend to recover and catch up, but I can’t wait to check out the other blogs.

    I absolutely feel your pain. We have an (awful) chainlink fence (which I HATE). There are these two kids down the block who run up and down OUR fence, taunting the dogs and sticking their fingers through the chainlink. Since these kids have all the self-restraint of ADHD monkeys hopped up on redbull and pixie sticks, I just know that one of these days, someone is going to get nipped. I have talked to the kids and the parents who did absolutely nothing. Now when I see them out there, I just round up the dogs and bring them in. Really, what are people thinking?!


  14. i think you’re doing a great job of highlighting your advanced level of understanding of the dog perspective, and the giant chasm between that and an average person’s level of understanding. bravo– it’s a blessing and a curse, isn’t it?
    i have an anecdote to share that could have fit easily into your post: a few weeks ago i volunteered at a dog adoption event, handling aspen, the shaggy spaniel i fostered for one night. it’s a big rescue group, and there were probably 50 or more dogs there, and lots of people visiting with them. it was generally a stressful scene, though the dogs were handling it amazingly well. one family really bugged me though. they had three kids, including one girl of about three years old who was running absolutely wild and loose without her parents paying attention at all. she was playing a horrifying game of sneaking up behind a dog’s back, sneaking in a quick pat, pet, or smack (not hard, but still), and then running away squealing. sometimes, she would pet/smack the dog on the nose, but always in an ambush attack. it seemed like her goal was to touch every dog at the event. is there any better way to get bitten? i was so infuriated that her parents weren’t paying attention and even when they were they were kind of smiling like it was cute, that i pulled her aside and tried to explain that you can’t just touch a dog without its permission and you have to let it smell you before you pet it. blank stare. i suggested to her parents that they should watch her because not all dogs like being touched that way and she could get bitten. blank stare from them too. she kept running around, patting unexpecting dogs on the back or the head. she got sternly barked at by several dogs, but still didn’t learn. eventually her family left, much to my delight. good grief!


  15. People baffle me, too, for the same reasons. Big, barking dogs and unpredictable little kids are George’s two biggest fears, too, and we end up doing the same as you in these situations. I guess all (good) dog owners are just a bunch of rude people…Who cares? Better to be rude than end up with a child’s hand in your dog’s mouth, I think.


  16. haha wow, just saw this post. I’d be annoyed too – instead of thinking you’re rude for continuing your walk, people need to realize you may have saved their kid’s fingers (and saved yourself from the angry lawsuit that would follow)

    better let them think you’re rude than have them freak out about why you DIDN’T keep Shiva away from their kids. gah!


  17. People are nuts. We usually have the problem of random dogs running up to us while we are walking or training. When walking they are always on lead, but still dogs will run up while their people make a half-hearted effort to recall them. But what really kills me is when we are very obviously training (running marks/blinds), and people come right up on you with their dogs when they have the whole park to walk in.


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