Today I thought I would get Phoebe away from her normal stomping grounds. I drove her to a large park that is chock full of horse, bike and hiking trails. It was a gorgeous day, so it should not have been surprising that hundreds of people had the same idea.
The first entrance I tried was packed, and I really did not want take Phoebe around masses of children and dogs. Socialization is great, but I still need to work on teaching her some self-control, such as not jumping on people when they greet her. She is pretty good at walking on a loose leash around the neighborhood, though she has her moments where she rebels.
I drove a few miles to the next entrance, but it was just as packed as the first. We continued to the furthest entrance, which was 7 miles up a super windy road. That place was perfect! There were still bike riders, hikers (children and adults), and dogs so we could practice socializing only in smaller doses.
I purchased a new leash for her. It is four feet, but also has a built-in loop so that in flash I can turn it into a 1 foot lead. This was a perfect way to teach her to stay by my side when passing people and other dogs, not out of fear but out of courtesy. Not every one loves dogs, and not all dogs want a teen-age pup running up to them. Plus Phoebe has a little Papilloma wart on her lip and the vet says its contagious, so she isn’t supposed to be kissing on other dogs (I still need to write about that).
The first family and dog we passed just said hello and we kept on walking. The next family we passed had two small dogs on retractable leashes. I had Phoebe walking at my heel so she wouldn’t go rubbing faces with them. Yet, their owners let their little dogs coming running over pulling on all 12 feet of their leashes.
Get the hint people! I don’t turn my 4 foot leash into a one foot lead and keep on walking for no reason. They are lucky I kept Phoebe away for health reasons. What if she was dog aggressive or something?
We passed another dog family whose owners used a little etiquette. We were polite. We just didn’t stop for a play date.
Then along comes a Chihuahua dog on a ding-dong retractable 12 foot leash. As the dog started to head our way, I politely told the owners, “[Phoebe] is in training. We are practicing self-control today” and I kept on walking. Instead of letting us be, the lady holding the leash tells me, “Oh but he wants to say hi” as she lets this little dog that is 1/20th of her size lead her around. She let him turn around and come running over to us anyway. The little Chihuahua starts growling and jumping and Phoebe. I gave the owner a less than nice look – my politeness the first time didn’t work, so why bother? Through a little nervous laughter the owner tells me, “He usually only does that at home.”
My response was simple, “Come on Phoebe. You are such a good girl” (she put up with that little escapade, staying by my heel the home time). A shining moment in the walking department. All the while I am thinking, Oh! Come on people! have a little respect! The second half of their party came following about 20 feet behind. I think they sense my irritation and asked if they could pet Phoebe. Sure. So they were petting her and scrunching her ears all lovey dovey. One of the girls points out all of Phoebe’s spots, and asks me what kind of dog she is. I tell them, “Oh, I don’t know. A pit bull mix of some kind.” They stopped petting her instantly. I’m thinking, What is your problem? Phoebe is walking by politely and your dog is snarling and yapping and as soon as your hear the word pit bull you freeze? See ya!
On the way back, she does her duty in the middle of the trail. While I am picking it up, here come two little dogs off-leash. Um – excuse me! This is leash-only park. It’s bad enough dealing with 12 foot retractable leashes, when the law is 6 feet max in public, off leash was just too much. These little fluffy dogs coming running up to Phoebe while I am trying to wrap up a bag of poop. I did not have a chance to get Phoebe out of the middle of the trail. Before I knew it, they were her face. They didn’t touch thank goodness! I got the little poop bag issue under control, put Phoebe on the 1 foot lead, turned on my heel and walked the other way. Phoebe was tugging trying to get back to greeting the little intruders. I corrected the tugging to get her moving in the right direction, since the little dogs weren’t going to back off. As soon as the owners see Phoebe tugging, they call their dogs back as if Phoebe is tugging in an attempt to maul their dogs. Their dogs still did not listen. Why someone would let two dogs who don’t listen walk off leash, I’ll never know. They are lucky that Phoebe is a people and dog lover, and they are also lucky she did not kiss their dogs with her little warty lip.
So that was my big day of discourteous dog walkers. Three of the four groups I ran across let their dogs invade our space, yet Phoebe is getting the “looks” because she is a pit bull on a short leash. Phoebe was extremely polite. It just goes to show how ignorant people can be.
Just to top off the day…
I needed to stop by the mini market. I parked and a car pulled in beside me. I got out of my car, ran in the store and ran out. When I came out I noticed that there was a gentleman sitting in the passenger seat of the car that parked next to us. He was just looking at Phoebe, and as I went to get in my car, calls out, “Hey.” I turn and see he is all smiles. He asks, “What kind of dog is that?” Just as with the people earlier, I tell him, “She is some kind of pit bull mix; I rescued her.”
The guy just wrinkled his nose and said, “Really? But she looks so pretty though.”
UHGHHGHGHG! What? She is not supposed to pretty because of her breed? I just told him, “Yeah. She is pretty. She is an angel and I just love her to death. Have a good day!” I’ll let you guess what words I was really thinking in my mind.
I am proud of my dog. Today was just a little eye opener for me. I have read many stories about the preconceived notions people have about pit bulls. I got to live it first hand today, and it was just made me really sad.
How do you deal with inconsiderate dog owners when out and about, without creating a big dramatic scene?