Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.
- Khalil Gibran
A few weeks ago I posted an article titled Big Little Problem. I told a story about how a dog in our neighbourhood is allowed to roam freely. Sparta was charged by this dog while on a walk, and it took every last ounce of Piloting I had to control the situation. I (kindly… no! Really! I was actually very polite!) indicated to the owner, who was about 50 feet away from their unleashed dog, that they needed to please control their dog and keep them on a leash outside.
Well, today I was across the street visiting with one of my favourite neighbour’s dog, Buddy, and guess who came strutting up to front porch (after crossing the street and travelling several houses over)? This little guy again. Buddy’s owner informed me that the pup frequently was in their back yard, which concerned them, because they owned a dog-reactive dog who they are currently working with. Another neighbor chimed in, stating the dog was a frequent visitor in their yard as well. The dog is sweet, but I was furious. Want to know what I did?
I called animal control. I informed them of the situation, how the dog is frequently left unattended, and charges at other dogs (most likely out of fear, trying to protect property/people/itself). I mentioned that this little guy had already charged at a couple dog-reactive dogs, and is hanging out in people’s back yards who have dog-reactive dogs. I asked if animal control could please bring the dog back to his home and speak with the owners.
No, I’m not heartless. No, I’m not the perfect dog owner (show me who is!). Orion, in the first year I had him, escaped right before my eyes under the fence several times and took off down the street (I honestly didn’t realize how tiny an opening he could fit through!). However, the second he took off, I was combing the streets until I found him. I fixed the fence (over and over again). I trained him…worked with him. In public, he was on leash 100% of the time until he mastered off-leash heeling and recall. Even now, though, he’s only allowed off-leash during training sessions. And man, did that training pay off. I get compliments on his manners all the time, but truly, it was hard work to get where we are today.
In other words, mistakes happen, and I realize that when they involve my dog, they are my fault. But I address them. I work on the issues and realize my first priority as a dog owner is to keep every dog safe, not just mine. Having an off-leash dog just roaming the neighbourhood because you’re not training the dog, or you’re too lazy to take precautions is revolting and dangerous to your dog as well as other dogs. What if a Rottie who is minding his own business gets charged by this dog, and the Rottie feels the need to protect itself? Who’s side do you think most people will be on? The 15 pound Shih Tzu or the 65 lb. Rottie? It doesn’t matter who is on a leash or not. In a human’s eyes, the smaller dog is always the victim.
So, I may have started a neighbour feud. Oh well. Hopefully we won’t see this poor little dog roaming the streets to be hit by a car, or to be attacked by another dog. I don’t know. But at least I gave it my best shot.
What would you have done?