Dear ignorant Edmontonian dog owners

I know you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. In all fairness, you don’t know any better. You have a dog but you put no effort toward learning how that dog lives and behaves and interacts with the human environment. You are lucky, however, as your dog was born more gentle, more forgiving, and more tolerant than many dogs. I don’t blame your dog, please know this. It is never, ever the dog’s fault. The only one who should bear any guilt is you.

You are the owner who brags about never having to use a leash and then exclaims “she never does that!” when your dog tears across the street after another dog.

You are the owner talking on his cell phone at the dog park, not caring when your dog’s overly friendly actions cause distress to others.

You are the owner who gives me a blank look when I ask you to please get a hold of your dog as my dog and I pass in an on-leash park.

You are the owner who cries how his dog was abused as a justification for her asshole behaviour.

You are the owner who never scoops and then complains when my dog marks on a tree on the public boulevard in front of your house.

You are the owner who walks multiple dogs on extendable leashes and blasts my dog for riling them up from the other side of the street.

You are the owner who ignores my warning that my dog is not keen on strange dogs lunging in her face, and then flips out at me when she growls.

You are the owner who alpha rolls instead of trying to understand the reason behind your dog’s actions.

You are the owner who relies on tools to do your work for you but don’t bother to learn how to use them properly.

You are the owner with the electric fence and the broken chain and the over-used crate.

You are the owner taking pictures of your children climbing on your dog’s back and chasing him with sticks.

You are the owner who demands that all dogs be friendly to everyone at all times but is too lazy to train her own dog.

You are the owner who euthanizes without asking questions when her dog snaps at a child.

You are the owner with the miniature labradoodle on television, demanding the reinstatement of BSL, asking why anyone would want to own “those dogs”.

You are the owner who dominates rather than builds a relationship.

You are the owner who blames everyone else.

You are the owner who rants about the boxer-pit bull-malamute “or whatever it was” and how it should be banned from your city just because one dog who kind of looked like that breed hurt another dog.

You are the owner who doesn’t love dogs, not really. If you did, you would spend more time learning and training. If you did, you would put your dog ahead of your ego. If you did, you would learn the local by-laws and do your best to keep all dogs safe. Most of you might love your own dogs. I will give you that. But not enough, not the way responsible owners do.

You are the owner who views her dog as a status symbol, who spends a lot of money on grooming and outfits or spike collars to make her look tough but almost no time.

You are small in number yet your presence is felt on every street. The responsible owners know how to avoid you but you have a way of ruining the happiest of strolls. You are impossible to ignore. You are the reason the laws exist yet you never follow them.

I know you won’t listen to me, even if you read this. I am under no illusion. You don’t listen when I ask you nicely to re-leash your dog on the side of the road so you aren’t going to take a blog post by a stranger to heart. Besides, you don’t think I am talking about you.

I am not writing this because I am expecting anything to change. You don’t care what I think and you certainly don’t care about my dog’s discomfort with your dog’s behaviour.

All I ask is that you stop blaming the dog. All I want is to prevent the harmful notion of BSL from hurting the good dogs and good people of this good city. I worry your ignorance will lead to something that will only make the situation worse. Blaming dogs instead of the real culprits solves nothing. It doesn’t prevent your miniature cockadoodle from getting attacked. All it does is spread a culture of fear toward dogs who were unlucky enough to have owners like you.

Please stop. Stop going to the media. We all know they smile with glee every time a canine incident is reported. Stop feeding that machine. Stop using the term “pit bull” as a synonym for “dangerous.”  I assure you, the two are mutually exclusive.

If you stop blaming dogs for their ignorant owner’s mistakes, I will stop glaring at you when your Siberian labra-chug tries to hump my dog.

Well, I will try, anyway.


Kristine Tonks, lover of all dogs, including Hungarian cocker-jacks.

15 thoughts on “Dear ignorant Edmontonian dog owners

  1. Great post, Kristine!!! Unfortunately, I think every city and small town in the USA has at least one of those owners.
    BTW, I just discovered earlier today that your posts have been going directly into my junk folder lately but I have no idea why. Grrrrr. Have to get THAT fixed!


    • I hope that isn’t true but I fear you are right. I have noticed more here than I ever did in Halifax. But then, Edmonton is a much bigger city. 😦

      I’ve had that problem myself with a few of the blogs I follow as well. Dang imperfect system! *shakes fists*


  2. I have so many of your posts that I love, but damn! This one ranks up near the top my friend. Your post could be read in any city and people would be nodding their heads. I am so sharing this one. Definitely up for one of my favorite posts for 2014.


    • Gosh, thanks Mel! I am so touched you got so much out of my rant. It’s unfortunate that this is so relatable to dog owners every where. I really do believe most dog owners are responsible and do their best. The problem is, the lazy ones get the most attention and their dogs end up causing the most trouble. Which is a big reason I think BSL doesn’t work. Ignorant owners aren’t going to magically become responsible because of a breed restriction. These laws only punish those who aren’t even a part of the problem. It does nothing to keep us or our dogs safer.


  3. A fantastic post!!! Last night I had someone walk off as their pug ran at BD. The only way I could intersept something happening was to pick up the pug, and carry it back to the owner – who had walked off the field hoping the dog would follow them. It didn’t. I hollered at them to come get their dog, they annoyed me. I was beyond pissed off and when I finally carried their pug the length of the field and gave it back to them they slapped it. I could have swung for them then and there. Stupid people should not be allowed to own dogs!!!


    • I am so sorry you had to experience that, Lauranne, but I am very glad BD wasn’t hurt. These scenarios bother me so much because even though it was the smaller dog who instigated the action, if something horrible was to occur as a result, it would be the larger dog to blame. We owners of larger dogs in need of space have to be extra careful and extra responsible. I try to be very conscious of that and am all too aware that my dog’s actions, especially if negative, are often viewed as representative of a breed.

      It sounds like you handled the whole thing as best anyone could. I am sure you worry for the pug but I don’t know if there is anything else one can do, unfortunately. 😦


  4. Experience VS Youth.
    Someday, you will mature to the point of being pro active and letting irresponsible Dog Owners know what is acceptable normal Dog behavior instead of being the Young reactivate person in this blog.
    Anger and frustration VS helping and being positive and teaching those you come across. That is wisdom you will grow into with age and realize works better then Bitching…..


    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read and share your thoughts. I certainly appreciate your point of view and I agree with you wholeheartedly. This was indeed a lot of bitching and I have no expectation for it to have been productive other than to make me feel better. Which it did. Given this is my personal blog, I feel entitled to a rant every now and then.

      However, I would also love if you could share the best way to go about providing this education. I have been polite, I have asked nicely, I have explained that my dog needs some space. At best I get a blank stare or a look that tells me they think I am nuts, at worst I get yelled at in return and told my dog should be friendlier. I don’t want to be the bitch of the sidewalk or the dog park. Are there methods that have worked for you? I’d really appreciate any advice you are able to share!


  5. WOW just WOW, you just articulated beautifully everything that has ever ran through my find each and everyday. This post should be mandatory reading for anyone with a dog.


    • Thank you very much for reading my little rant. I was just exhausted last night and the latest news story was a bit of a breaking point. I am so tired of dogs being blamed for their owner’s laziness and ignorance.


  6. This is so awesome Kristine. I feel you, I really do. I can’t tell you how many times I have stood in those shoes. Been polite, been rude and still got nowhere. People see what they want to see.

    Sadly this is not only happening in Edmonton.


  7. I have never ever wanted anything to “go viral” as much as I want this post to. It needs to be read by dog owners EVERYWHERE, not just in Alberta!


  8. Such a wonderful rant, Kristine! And I agree with the folks above that this could work in just about any city. As for the comment about experience vs reactive, I too would love to see the response to your questions. I’ve been shouted at and accosted for asking people to leash their dog in an on-leash park because of Lucas’ reactivity. I choose to walk him in public parks that are safe and well-scouted out so that I can mitigate and work on his behavior, but when other dog owners flout the rules, and I say something (or even if I say nothing and hightail it outta there), I get yelled at or told not to walk my “aggressive” dog in public places. I’ve been glared at and cursed at for offering poop bags to people who were blatantly not picking up their dog’s poop. I’m not sure what any of that has to do with “youth” or “experience” versus the other owners’ jerkiness. I’ll check back to see Deb’s response because I’m super curious!


    • Thank you so much, Maggie. I am glad I am not alone with these feelings at any rate, though I am sad this seems to be a universal experience. I do believe that the vast majority of dog owners are not ignorant jerks but, as always, the ignorant jerks are the loudest. I am happy to say that we do run into people all the time who maybe aren’t following the rules but who are polite and apologize and re-leash their dogs as we pass. This post wasn’t about them or about any of the other the considerate dog owners of the world who make honest mistakes and own up to them. It was about the people who have no thought for the well-being of others and then ruthlessly declare that all dogs who don’t match their definition of what a dog should be should be banned.

      But I have ranted enough. 😛 Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.


  9. Good for you for putting it out there and in a really great way. This post was powerful, there were times when I squirmed a bit, but every single point I could relate to.

    I wish more people would take the time to learn how to be a dog owner instead of just deciding that they want a dog. I’ve been guilty of a few of the points you listed and thank heavens for blogging – I’ve learned loads over the past couple years.


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