Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021
Dog Rant

This blog isn’t related to the business of writing, instead I’m talking about what happened yesterday morning. This is why I don’t fully trust dog owners who let their dogs off leash.

I walk Maggie every day in the field close to our house. A lot of us dog walkers are sad that they are beginning work to build houses there, but that’s just life. For now, we can still walk there.

So Maggie and I go into the field, and I spot a man I’ve seen walking his older dog before. I think it’s a Labrador, and he’s off leash, but he’s mellow so I don’t worry about him. Maggie and I walk a little farther when I realized he has another dog with him off leash. A younger lab who’s in the shrubs. Crap. Now I’m worried, but I keep going on a different dirt road, keeping that dog in my peripheral vision and hoping he’ll and follow his owner and the other dog.

That’s when the dog spots Maggie and he doesn’t even hesitate, he runs for her. I’m guessing the dog was 40 to 50 pounds. I had little time to react and the owner was too far away. The owner finally sees this and yells, “He won’t hurt–” and he cut off as the dog went after Maggie.

I got a hold of the dog’s collar, and held on. Some of it I don’t even remember. The owner got there, put a leash on the dog and we handled it. We checked Maggie, and she seemed okay. The man seemed shocked that I was so calm. I was thinking so fast and trying to control a bad situation, I didn’t have time to panic. Or I don’t think I did, maybe I yelled and don’t remember. Plus the man immediately owned up to an ugly situation, and at that point, my being nasty would not have helped. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and misjudgments with my dog too. Once I got home and was checking my arm (it’s fine, no bite) I realized how much danger I was in. The dog wasn’t going after me, he was after Maggie. But I had a pretty up close view of his teeth and that’s not something I’m going to forget.

What frustrates me is that people don’t understand dogs. They are not humans. They are actually simpler and more predictable. I’ll bet money that dog loves people in general, and that lulled this guy into not realizing how fast things can turn bad if a dog’s energy is not controlled. If an off leash dog comes full energy at a smaller leashed dog, there will almost always be a fight. The smaller dog’s instant anxiety and being “trapped” on a leash can and does set off the fight.

I’m not really mad, just frustrated. When I see unleashed dogs, I never, ever listen to the owners telling me their dog won’t bite. THAT IS NOT TRUE AND FOOLISH TO BELIEVE.  In the right circumstances, most any dog will bite. For all I know, Maggie started that fight. I had put her in sit behind my left leg, but I didn’t look at her again. Maybe she growled or lunged. It’s possible. I know at one point I dropped her leash, she moved a few feet away and stayed back. But that’s all I can truly attest too.

Okay, I’m over it. Everyone is all right. I took Maggie back into the field in the afternoon because I don’t want her developing a fear. I’ve worked hard to get her to trust me to handle bad situations, and I wanted to reinforce that training. She was fine.

I started out writing this in frustration, but the more I think about it, the more I want to say this: I respect the other dog owner for the way he handled it once it was over. I really do.

Hmm…that actually makes me feel better!

8 comments to “Dog Rant”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    March 3rd, 2021 at 7:18 am · Link

    Gah, Scary stuff. Good for you for handling the big dog. And staying calm. (You must’ve if the other owner commented on it.) Grace under pressure – you’ve got it. :hugs:

    People forget that dogs, whatever they may be to us, are still predators. That other dog may have only seen a smaller animal and went after it as prey. Imagine if it had been a stray cat or a bunny. Or a small child… :shudder: It was irresponsible of that owner to take a new dog out unleashed and without proper training. Thank goodness nothing really bad happened. Here’s hoping he learned something and leashes his dog until it is trained so nothing worse does happen.

  2. Shonna
    March 3rd, 2021 at 8:27 am · Link

    So glad you both are alright. I have a long walking trail close to my home that I visit a lot with my small yorkie. Several times we have been in this same situation. Anymore, as soon as I see a no leash situation, I pick-up my fur baby and hold him close to my chest. (Being only 8 pounds makes it easy). Dog owners need to be responsible. It’s fine to let pets run free in a fenced yard, but when in public, click on the leash.

  3. Silver James
    March 3rd, 2021 at 9:12 am · Link

    Whoa! Soooo glad you and Maggie are okay and the dude owned up to his mistake. Let’s hope he learns from this. Labs are high energy dogs. They’re sporting dogs. They retrieve game. I get that he probably likes the dogs to run free to get rid of that energy but if he isn’t training them to work off leash in a hunting/sporting situation (there are competitions for hunting dogs that don’t involve guns or live/dead game), then that dog should not be off leash.

    As you know, I have HUGE dogs. I’ve encountered the other situation, where walking mine on leash and encountering a small dog off leash. I even had one woman blame my dog when hers came flying out of their unfenced front yard, across the street and up almost a block to attack Cooper (when he was still with us). Luckily, Newfs have thick fur and the stupid ankle biter couldn’t find skin. When Coop finally got around to growling, the owner was there screaming and yelling and me and Coop. Another neighbor walked out and stood there watching. He finally yelled over that he and his wife had seen the whole thing and that if Cooper was hurt, since I was married to an attorney, they’d be glad to testify in small claims court. The woman cussed me out again, grabbed her dog and took off home. The neighbor rolled his eyes, came over and loved on Coop–much to Coop’s delight–and said the woman was a renter and he was calling the home owner because he was positive there was a no-pet policy. I noticed a U-haul there about two-weeks later.

    Anyway, what happened to you and Maggie should never have occurred! Luckily, the owner was an adult, you and Maggie are both okay, and yes, be ever vigilant. Big hugs to you and the doggo! And exgra treats for Maggie being such a good girl. And a chocolate chip cookie for you for calm under fire! 💕💕

  4. Viki S.
    March 3rd, 2021 at 3:53 pm · Link

    How freaking scary that must have been. It’s such a good thing that you DO know dogs and even with the shock and stress had the situation under control. I am glad none of you were hurt. Again, how scary!

    I will never for the life of me understand why people think they can have their dog off leash when out and about. It’s not only safer for other animals but it protects their dog.

    Very smart of you to take Maggie right back out there in the afternoon for another walk. Best to keep fear from setting in.

    As Silver said, did Maggie get a treat for being such a good girl and did Jen get a treat for taking control of a possible disaster? I sure hope so.

    Here’s to today being a better dog walk day!

    Take care.

  5. Jenn
    March 3rd, 2021 at 6:26 pm · Link

    B.E., you made a great point. There’s tons of rabbits and other critters in that field, and I’d bet the dog was hunting them when he spotted Maggie. He never even looked at me, he zeroed in on her with full intent. He probably literally saw her as another “prey” like a rabbit. Looking back, I realize that the owner was on the other side of the dog, and couldn’t quite see what I did.

    I’m not excusing no leash though :-)

    But things turned out okay. I truly LOVE dogs and I’m glad it all worked out. Thanks for the support!

  6. Jenn
    March 3rd, 2021 at 6:30 pm · Link

    Shonna, that’s scary too. We a horrible situation in our area where a big dog jumped the fence out of his back yard and killed a small dog being walked. It’s sad that we have to be so vigilant.

    I’m a 100% with you on dog owners being responsible. If we all at least try, we’ll have a lot less of these incidents. You and your sweet dog take care!

  7. Jenn
    March 3rd, 2021 at 6:41 pm · Link

    Silver, all so true. I love labs, but they can be very prey driven. At some of our parks, we have fenced baseball friends, and I’ve seen dog owns run their dogs in there where they feel they have more control and less likely to have problems. The parks forbid it, but I shrug it off. As long as they clean up after their dog, it’s no harm no foul.

    Oh yeah, small dogs can be terrors. You know all the reasons small dogs do that, part as a defense, and part from neuroses if they don’t have good training and structure. It’s dangerous! Any uncontrolled dog is dangerous. And that lady was a lunatic! And here’s the thing–I’ve seen people who react like that and I know it happened just as you said. She’s lucky Cooper didn’t attack the dog in defense.

    I bet the neighbors were so happy she moved, and probably wanted to throw you and Cooper a party. And while I’m thinking about it, I know you still miss him sometimes, so hugs on that.

    I have a lot less problem with people who own mistakes since I make a lot of them. If that man had acted like the lady did toward you and Coop it would have been a whole different situation. And yep, Maggie got a treat as soon as was were home. And I could really use a cookie, LOL.

  8. Jenn
    March 3rd, 2021 at 6:47 pm · Link

    Viki, yeah, it was scary, or at least it was right after. Maggie appears unscathed, and I got up with a sort shoulder and arm, but I expected that.

    I wonder the same thing about off leash. There are snakes, coyotes, even bob cats in that field. And now construction crews with tractors and such, plus trucks moving around. It’s not wise to have the dog unleashed.

    Maggie being unscathed was enough of a treat :-) But I’d take a cookie if I had any!

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