Last weekend, I went out for a nice morning walk. I was heading up a leafy hill that leads to the the showgrounds in town, and a woman had a beautiful big dog on a leash, about 10 metres ahead of me. Notice I described the dog as ‘beautiful’ — it’s not dogs I have a problem with, it’s their owners.
She stopped when she saw me. Woman and dog sussed me out. Woman narrowed gaze, dog pricked ears. Then I was inexplicably given the all-clear and she RELEASED THE HOUND, who came hurtling down the hill and jumped all over me, licking my face and snapping its wet jaws excitedly an inch from my nose.
I could smell the Pal on its breath.
The owner must have noticed my discomfort. The angry scowl on my face probably gave it away.
“If you don’t want her to jump on you, just tell her to sit,” she laughed. She clearly loved her canine, and wanted me to love it too.
But since when did having a huge dog throw itself at you in a public place become an opt-out? I think it must be a country thing.
I glared at her.
“I don’t want to have to tell her to sit,” I said. “Why should I have to tell her to sit? I’m just out for a walk, minding my own business, and I don’t want anyone or anything to jump and slobber on me, unless it’s my boyfriend, or Johnny Depp.”
Dogs are like overexcited children with sharp teeth who poo everywhere and never grow up
Let’s face it: dogs don’t have a clue about personal space.
Most people intuitively respect a stranger’s body language signals and don’t intrude into that invisible no-go zone we put around ourselves of one to two metres.
Dogs on the other hand, could do with reading a few Allan Pease books.
It’s not their fault; I put the blame squarely on the owners, who neglect to train them, fence them in or put them on leashes in public places.
This results in consequences as mildly annoying as what happened to me, to the kinds of attacks on both strangers and owners we hear about in the media on a regular basis.
Most people have a dog attack story.
My mum and our family’s small terrier were attacked by four dobermans off leads in a park, while the owner did nothing.
My friend was told when she visited someone’s house, “Oh go ahead, give her a pat, she wouldn’t hurt a fly”, then did the obligatory owner-pleasing pat, only to have her hand badly bitten.
And therein lies the problem: some people become so besotted with their dogs, they begin to think of them as humans. They’re part of the family, sure, and there’s nothing like a dog’s love and loyalty. We’ve had some beautiful dogs in our family, so I know.
But they’re also territorial, protective, unpredictable and lethal in certain circumstances — which is why fences and leashes were invented.
So, to the dog owners out there who I observe doing dumb things with dogs, such as sitting them on their laps while they drive, allowing them to run freely around children’s parks or even freely in your own unfenced yard, completely free to terrorise the postie and little old ladies walking their poodles — stop.
Not everyone thinks your dog is awesome.