Pet Peeve

There are lots of dogs in my neighborhood, all kinds of breeds, and most of their humans follow proper doggie etiquette, having their pooches on leashes and cleaning up after them. I like to think that those who don’t are people just walking through, who live some streets over. That was the case a few winters ago, the day I just happened to look out my bedroom window to see a woman I didn’t recognize walking a large black dog on a leash. She paused in front of my snow-covered lawn, which the dog promptly walked onto. He crouched, delivering several large turds that stood out in stark relief on the snow. The woman seemed to debate with herself for a moment and then, perhaps not wishing to venture into the white stuff herself, led her dog away up the street. There was no way I was going to clean that up myself. Racing down the stairs and putting on my shoes and socks, I grabbed my parka and took up the street after her, reaching her just outside the Starbucks on the corner. “Excuse me,” I panted, a bit out of breath, “you know your dog pooped on my lawn, right?” “Oh, I’m so sorry!” she said, “I’ll clean it up right away!” And so she did, much to my immense satisfaction.

Not that I hate dogs. I’m actually a dog lover, though my husband and I don’t have one of our own. We’ve been on the fence about getting a pooch (from a shelter, of course) for some time now. We go out of town a lot, and don’t like (well, I don’t) the idea of having our pup stay with some stranger more than a few times a year. Whenever we pass a dog (all but the ugliest get this treatment), we’ll say, “What a cutie!” or “Look and see!” or “There, there!” sometimes petting the cutie in question. But that doesn’t mean I agree with what their humans sometimes end up doing.

Take the local park, for instance. There is a sign informing that all dogs must be on a leash. Most follow this, but I’ve noticed that those who don’t tend to be those with large dogs. I often go for walks in the park, and I don’t like being confronted by a large Lab or German shepherd, sometimes wandering far afield of its human. I know if I said anything, the human in question would likely say (and people I encounter thus sometimes do say, without prompting, as I move to the other side of the path), “Oh, he’s friendly. He won’t hurt you.” ‘I don’t know your dog,’ I think. ‘He’s big, and I have every right to walk in the park without being afraid of being jumped on by your canine friend.’ I consider reminding these folks that their pooch should be on a leash, but what if the owner answers with a bit of hostility, and the dog comes at me? I suppose these people feel entitled to have their dog exercise sans leash. I sympathize and agree that every dog deserves some unfettered exercise—and I have some simple words of advice: Take your dog to a dog park!

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