Shiva the dog is a dog. She makes a lot of mistakes. I am a human. I make a lot of mistakes when I am handling her. I am happy to own up to these gaffes. In fact, I have been happy to take the blame for every misstep ever made by a human since the beginning of time. Ones that included dogs and ones that did not.
For thirty-two years I have retracted, I have repented, and I have redressed things that happened under my supervision and things that happened when I wasn’t in the area code. It is always my fault.
But there are straws and there are camels and there are backs.* After all of this time I am drawing a line. There are now certain things, dog-related things, for which I will no longer apologize. I vow:
1. I will not apologize when my dog reacts to another dog who invades her space when the other dog’s owner is disobeying city bylaws. These bylaws include not being off-leash outside of designated areas and not being on a leash that exceeds two metres in length. So to the man walking the dog on the extendable leash in Old Strathcona tonight? I am not sorry Shiva snapped and otherwise flipped out at your dog. Your dog, while perfectly lovely I am sure, should not have been able to cross the road to get in her face. This was your fault, kind sir, not mine. You should apologize to me.
2. I will not apologize when I break the bylaws and annoy someone else who is also breaking the bylaws, especially when my flouting of the rules does less harm. So to the man walking the dog on the extendable leash – this seems to be a common law-breaking habit – in the ravine Wednesday morning? I am not sorry I failed to re-leash my dog in an on-leash area. It was dark and your dog was trotting so far away from you I assumed her or she was off-leash as well. My dog obviously did too which is why she was clotheslined on your illegal leash’s cord. I am not sorry we irritated you. I am sorry your leash almost hurt my dog.
3. I will not apologize when my dog slips her collar and gets an illegally off-leash dog riled up to the extent he or she cannot be recalled. This is not my fault. If your dog does not have a solid recall with all distractions, including nutty on-leash dogs, he or she should not be off-leash in an on-leash area. So to everyone who walks their dogs off-leash in the clearing of the ravine every weekend morning? You have been warned. The next time, I might just let her go on purpose.
4. I will not apologize when my dog lunges at people who stand behind trees and then leap out in front of me. Especially when it is dark. You are lucky all she does is bark.
5. I will not apologize when my dog sets off dogs whose handlers are walking them in groups of five down the middle of the road on extendable leashes. The size of the dogs is irrelevant. My dog deserves to walk in peace as much as those belonging to other people. If I can walk on the sidewalk and keep my dog in her own space, other people can too. If my dog’s presence is so arousing that your dogs just can’t take it? You need to do some training. I recommend starting by walking one at a time on a shorter leash.
Am I being unfair? Is there anything for which you refuse to apologize?
*Line shamelessly stolen from one of my favourite Canadian films. Betcha can’t guess which one.