I have become that which I despise, that which I never thought I could be. There is no part of me that is confrontational. Strangers are dangerous. No matter the circumstances, I will go out of my way to avoid interaction with them. I will even use those dang self check outs when I have a ridiculous number of items just so I won’t have to make eye contact with someone.
I am a ninja with self check out. Fastest scanner this side of Toronto.
And yet! And yet, I have turned into the obnoxious outspoken crazy dog woman. The woman who yells at people and calls them out when their dogs are acting like hooligans. The woman who is just so bloody tired of dealing with ignorant people who think it is okay if their dog chases mine down the street. Something in me has snapped. I won’t, I can’t, duck my head and seethe inwardly anymore. My mouth speaks before my brain gives it permission. I know it doesn’t help; I know it won’t change anything. I can’t remain silent.
In essence, I have become my mother.
Oh, how that smarts.
Mr. Poodle Man has been a common target. If we head a certain direction in the morning we are bound to encounter him. His dog is beautiful, poofy and black and bouncy and everything a standard poodle should be. Except for the whole barking at Shiva’s heels thing. If this dog was on a leash it wouldn’t be an issue. Of course, this dog is never on a leash. His or her owner doesn’t seem to think this behaviour is an issue. Sure, he calls and tells his dog to stop, but we all know that does nothing. Yelling down the street while your dog harasses another dog, making no effort to retrieve your pet and in fact having no leash on you at the time, does not impress me much. You are putting your dog, and mine in danger. If this was a park, I would let Shiva off to defend herself. It is almost always a residential road. Mr. Poodle Man may be willing to risk his dog getting hit by a car. I am not.
Do you know his response to my request to restrain his lovely dog?
Mmmmhmmm. Indeed. There was no apology for his dog’s rudeness, no sheephish grin, no acknowledgement of how scary it might feel to be stalked down the road by a strange dog. I almost wanted to encourage Shiva to react, just to show him how risky his laissez faire attitude is. If I knew his address I would have reported him to Animal Control a long time ago. This poodle is going to get hurt.
And then there was the episode tonight with the Pomeranian. Shiva and I were on our usual evening jaunt. To the right of us was a busy parking lot outside of an outdoor swimming pool. We heard high-pitched barking and looked over. A small brown dog ran loose on the road. He or she headed right for us. My first thought was that this dog was lost. Rewarding Shiva, I directed her to my left side and looked around for an owner. I caught sight of a man walking a German Shepherd behind us. Not good.
That’s when I heard the voice of a woman come from one of the vehicles. While the little dog yapped and sped as fast as he could toward the Shepherd, she hollered at him to come back. She didn’t get out of her car, she didn’t even open her door.
The words tumbled out of my mouth before I knew they existed.
Her response was sarcastic, as expected. I told her I was just concerned for her dog’s safety. She said nothing and remained inside her vehicle. Her dog continued to run around the German Shepherd’s heels. The man was silent. Luckily for everyone’s sake, so was the Shepherd.
Even better, how do I help change the status quo? How do I teach people that their neglectful actions are putting their family members in danger? I feel like a jerk when I don’t speak up and a jerk when I do. Is that the way of it?
All I want is to walk with Shiva without fear, without the stress of running into ignorant owners with dogs who don’t know how to behave off-leash. Is this nothing but a fantasy?