Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why I No Longer Take My Dogs For Walks Around The Neighborhood

Laurie has been writing about loose, unruly dogs knocking down her elderly Boscoe  (click on the name to find the link) when she takes him for walks on leash near her house. 

On my part, and much to my regret, I have given up taking Wolfie, Lexi and Bisou for walks around our neighborhood.  Back when Lexi was our only dog, a mother-daughter team of German Shepherds wandered over, cornered her against our garage wall, and mauled her so that she had to have surgery.  Those dogs lived nearby, and were free to roam.  After the attack, I no longer felt safe to walk past their house, and risk another encounter.

One day, when Wolfie was about eighteen months old, I was walking him in the village when another neighbor's dog came screaming around the corner of his house, ran through his invisible fence, and charged   The dog was snarling and circling us as we stood in the middle of the road, around a bend where oncoming cars couldn't see us.  I reacted out of sheer instinct:  "You go back home right now, you bad dog!" I growled.  Miraculously, the menace turned tail, and ran back through his electric fence. Wolfie at that time was too young and inexperienced to react much.  These days, there is no question that he would have taken  the situation in hand.  So we have stopped taking walks in that direction.

The owners of the mother/daughter terrorist duo have moved away, but their place has been taken by people whose enormous Newfoundland hangs out in the yard unsupervised.  There is no way I'm going to walk my dogs past that.

There is always the Rail Trail, a lovely path that wends its way through idyllic woods and meadows--an ideal place to walk dogs, except that most people let their dogs off leash (how could anybody deny a dog the God-given right to run free?), and I don't relish the prospect of some exuberant dog running up to leashed Wolfie and getting in his face.

Part of the problem, of course, is that Wolfie weighs over 90 pounds and is far, far stronger than I am.  Although he has been diagnosed as extremely stable and good-tempered by a number of trainers, he has firm ideas of what constitutes polite behavior, and will not tolerate impertinence from another dog.  And I am not powerful enough to enforce human notions of diplomacy in these situations.

Where only people are concerned, I truly believe that I could take him to the ends of the earth.  With the prospect of other dogs' unpredictable behavior, however, I cannot be so sure.

At this time of year, taking one dowager queen, one big male in his prime, and a little red torpedo for walks down our snow-clogged roads is both insane and unsafe.  But when spring comes and the snow melts nothing will change.
  
I have long nurtured the illusion of having such well-socialized dogs that I can take them with me anywhere, any time.  That, unfortunately, has proved to be an illusion.  The Shepherds are just too big, and the unknowns too unknown, to risk it.

Bisou, of course, is another kettle of fish.  No matter what comes up, I can always scoop her up in my arms and save her from herself.  But I can't make a practice of taking her with me while leaving Wolfie and Lexi at home--dogs feel these things deeply.  So mostly I just don't take anybody anywhere.

Fortunately, we have a long driveway that we can walk up and down when the snow is deep, and a field and woods to run in when the footing is easier.  But oh, how I wish we lived in a perfect world and I could take my three with me everywhere, confident that no crazy, aggressive, out-of-control or just plain silly dogs would interfere with our bliss!

4 comments :

  1. I'm sorry but what you write is so true. On another note, I found a picture of you with others on our back patio. You were probably 17 or 18. I'll send it to you. We are all laughing uproariously.

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  2. I bet I'll laugh uproariously when I get the picture too! Thanks, I'd love to see it.

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  3. oh, i know what you are talking about! it's kind of like the way i feel about winter driving--i trust my own driving, but i don't trust the yahoos on the road around me.

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  4. I hope the yahoos let you and Boscoe have some peaceful walks.

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