Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Your Dog is not Above the Law

Today I went to walk Bea after dinner like normal. Lately, I've been letting her control our direction. I don't really care where she pees or poops, as long as it's legal and not in my apartment.

My wife recently showed me a great quote from Michael Vartan, the guy from Hawthorne (that show on TNT that TNT swears people watch). The quote came from an interview with PETA, so clearly Vartan doesn't actually know much about dogs, or he'd know that PETA's kill rate is 95%. Yup - fur is murder, and so is PETA.

Nevertheless, it was a good quote:

"We decide when our dogs eat, take walks, play with their pooch pals—even relieve themselves. So when I take her on a walk, I make sure she gets to sniff as long as she wants. And it’s up to her whether she walks, runs, or even sunbathes. I always remember this is her walk, so I don’t pull on her, and I don’t rush her. These things may seem small to us, but to our dogs, they mean the world."

There's a grassy strip that Bea prefers to poop on a block away from my apartment, and she headed right for it. But when I got there, I saw a big dog off-leash, chasing a ball and jumping all over his owner.

As I've told you, Bea is not always great with other dogs. Sometimes she's okay, and sometimes she's not. I wasn't willing to risk Bea getting in a fight because some guy thinks he doesn't need to obey the law.

Having your dog off-leash is like texting while driving. It's terribly dangerous when other people do it, but you're so good at it that you couldn't possible hurt anyone, right?

New York City has a simple leash law - 6-foot-leash in public areas at all times, and dog runs are the one exception. And there is a dog run 3 blocks from the strip we were on. Everyone knows that law - I've known it for years and I never thought I'd be a dog owner. But this guy thought his dog was more important than the law. He can train his dog to fetch, but his dog never trained him not to be a selfish asshole.

Meanwhile, I've learned dogs on a leash do NOT like interacting with dogs off-leash, because they feel restricted and thus threatened. So if Bea and a rambunctious dog is a recipe for disaster, Bea and a rambunctious dog off leash is a recipe for disaster cooked by Sandra Lee.

I tried to pull Bea away from the grass, but she wanted to poop where she wanted to poop. So I was left with three choices:

1) I could take her off leash, breaking the law while risking an altercation.
2) I could leave her on leash, obeying the law, and ensuring an altercation.
3) I could politely ask a fellow dog owner, citizen, and human being to please put his dog on a leash.

I chose option three, because I mistook the other owner for human. The owner reluctantly putting the leash on while silently giving me the stink eye wasn't what I was hoping for.

In that moment, I realize what I should do. I would train the dog owner as if he had the mental capacity of a dog.

"Thank you," I said, in the same tone as I say "good girl."

When we walked by him, I said it again. And when we left, I said it a third time.

As I walked away, he took the leash off immediately and gave me the stink eye once more. Clearly I'd made a mistake. But my mistake was not asking him to leash his dog. My mistake was thinking he'd actually be as smart as one.

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