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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Venting Session

OK, this is definitely not the post that I was planning on putting up. But something happened today that has made me SO angry, if I don't get it out I'm probably going to be in a VERY bad mood for the rest of the day.

So, I'm trying to get us all out and about more to practice on some skills that have gotten a little rusty (heel, stay, leave-it etc.) and to get us all a bit more exercise as we can all stand to be a bit trimmer (which I'll chat more about in the next post). Now walking has become a bit of a challenge; gone are the days of walking in the woods or open fields due to the arrival of the dog-days of summer. Those quiet, pristine places are not off limits due to the awful amount of ticks my girls bring back with them. So we've been confined to pavement walking: hitting the local parks and sidewalks instead. And these places are neither quiet OR pristine. Not only are we dealing with a lot more in terms of distractions (litter on the ground, people going by with skateboards, bikes, strollers etc.) but we're also having to deal with the sheer NUMBER of people with and without these additional things.

Now, don't get me wrong. My girls are BOMB-PROOF; they have seen, experienced and dealt with all of these things before. They ignore just about all of them;they are not reactive in any way. They just let them pass right along by. BUT they are having to relearn what it means to "get in close" as we are now on a narrow paved path with these things and they need to learn to be polite and move aside so there can be room for us all.

If it was just these things then our walks would still be fine. I mean if anything, they would enhance our training sessions and make us all stay on our toes. But there is one BIG, HUGE incredibly ANNOYING consequence that we are also having to deal with: CHILDREN. Lots of them.

I cannot STAND children. I have always been like this. I can't stand anything about them: the way that they are always sticky, they smell, they don't know how to behave and most don't listen. Now don't get me wrong; as long as they are not affecting me in a negative way, we can coexist without a problem. But am I going to knowingly seek out their company or want to "hang out" with them? Absolutely not. I always joke that I was born with a "defective mothering gene"-I only feel those warm, maternal feelings towards small furry beings. The sounds of babies (crying, etc) to me is like nails on a chalk board. But a puppy whining or even barking immediately sets my brain into nurture mode. I can easily turn a deaf ear to barking and just tune it out (I do live with Shelties you know!) but the sounds of screaming children makes me want to pound my head into a brick wall.

Again, its not like I go around wishing harm on all of the children in the world. I don't stand up and cheer when I hear an awful story on the news about something tragic happening to someones kid; I feel bad just like everyone else. But I really am getting sick and tired of dealing with stupid parents who let their obnoxious children run amok.

I took the girls out to the park for a quick early morning walk before breakfast. The walk takes place at a park where there is a big paved path forming two connecting squares around some ball fields and a play ground. It is a pretty popular park for walkers, and parents: both of dogs and kids. There are at least 5 poop pick up stations around the park, lining the paths. Clearly the rec. department knows how popular the park is for dog owners and want to ensure that we take care of it so we continue to be welcomed. (Its funny that you'd be hard pressed to find even one small piece of dog poo, but there are candy and ice-cream wrappers littering the ground around the play ground...but I digress...) So I take the girls for a walk, having their leashes, treats and poop bags stored in my pocket. The paths themselves are pretty quite, but there are already some families on the play ground. No problem; we'll just steer clear of it.

As we're about 1/3 of the way around for our first pass, it starts to rain. So I hustle the girls up (as none of us wants to end up soaked) and we start to head back to the car. When we get there, the rain is letting up a bit, so I ask the girls if they want to play ball (we never go anywhere without their Chuck-It!) so I grab it and we make our way back to the field. As we're walking back, this little girl RUNS off the play ground and starts chasing my girls. Well, they want to play ball and 4 legs are always faster than 2, so they out run her. We make our way to the field and I huck the ball. The girl is still running after them trying to pet them. Now, NORMALLY if the girls father (who is half-heartedly following this annoying child trying to marshal her) had ASKED can she pet them, I wouldn't have had a problem. But he was just LETTING her chase them, so I kept throwing the ball in the OPPOSITE direction; keen to SHOW HIM that NO, I did NOT want his little girl getting near my dogs. Apparently he never got the hint.

So finally after a few minutes of ball throwing, they were sufficiently tired (and wet!) enough for us to go home. Heidi, being normally a little slower than Shelby (and now being really tired) was making her way slowly toward me when the little girl started chasing her again. I FIRMLY said "DON'T CHASE HER!" when the little girl caught up to her, WRAPPED her arms around her waist and then FELL ON TOP OF HER. I YELLED. I mean really YELLED "CAREFUL!!!" and went over and picked Heidi up. I was so INCENSED with anger, I couldn't even get the words out that I wanted to scream at this father who was muttering a feeble"sorry". I wanted to SCREAM at him "look buddy, if I don't let my dogs run up to your kid, what makes you think that you can let your KID run up to MY DOGS? If she had bitten or snapped at your daughter it would have been MY DOG that would be put to death. A bit UNFAIR, don't you think?!?!?"

I STORMED off and carried Heidi all the way back to the car where I gave her lots of good snacks and told her what a wonderful and brave dog she was. (And of course I told Shelby the same and gave her snacks too).

I CAN NOT believe the ignorance of some people. I mean, HONESTLY?!?! What makes it OK that your kids can accost mine? What if my dogs were NOT friendly and Heidi HAD bitten her? I mean, this is RIDICULOUS. As far as I am concerned, if a little kid puts themselves in situations like that (and the parents ALLOW IT) if they get bitten, they DESERVE IT. Maybe then they will learn the lesson to ASK before petting strange dogs. And if you don't like that way of thinking, think about a dog as if it were a hot stove. Would you just let your child run up to a stove and put its hand on it? Or would you check first and make sure it wasn't hot? Or better yet, keep them away from the stove at all?

And if your a parent, put yourself in my shoes. What if you were at the park, and some huge, off-leash dog came RUNNING on to the play ground? Would you just ASSUME that the dog was friendly and willing to put your child's safety at risk to test the dog and see? Even if the dogs tail was wagging, would you take the chance? Wouldn't you be screaming at the ignorant dog owner to get her pet under control and away from your kids??

So let me just say this: I am now going to be taking a MUCH more active role in leader and protector of my dogs. I've already stepped up my safety arsenal of preventing dog attacks by carrying a whistle, air-horn and direct stop. You bet your ass that I'm going to start protecting them from rogue children now too. No, I probably can't MACE the kids who come running up, but be sure that I am going to now start employing body-blocks and using a loud commanding voice to tell kids to "BACK OFF" and deter them from charging the girls. And short of shaving them and painting them black and tan (to have them look like mini-rottweilers), I'm going to also be wearing this to the park:

Hooded Sweatshirt - CafePress

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If this doesn't deter stupid people and obnoxious children, I don't know what will. I'm sure that this is probably going to anger some people, and may even change peoples opinions about me. But look, all I am looking for is the same thing that anyone else is: respect. Respect for my feelings, respect for my space, and respect for my dogs. If I can give it to you, and ensure that my dogs do as well, cant you give it back? I mean, a little common sense and common courtesy goes a long way...

6 comments:

  1. That sweatshirt made me laugh!

    I've noticed that lately most kids DO ask, "Can I pet your dog?" before getting too close. There have been enough news stories about kids getting bit by dogs, that parents have learned to teach their kids to make sure this is a "friendly dog".

    Clearly, this kid has not been taught that skill.

    I always tell my nephews that not all dogs are "nice", and that they need to be careful.

    I would have been just as mad as you!

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  2. You are lucky to have a park that lets you have dogs off leash. All are parks the dogs must be on leash unless you are in the fenced in dogpark area. That area , you pay extra for and has a lock on it. So kids cant get to your dogs. Lets face it, it wasnt the kids fault is was the parents fault. I can understand you were mad and I would be mad too. But try to remember you were a kid once too and probably didnt listen all the time either. Hopefully next time will go better. Diana

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  3. Little Jessie abs9olutely HATES kids since a little boy accosted her when she was a little younger. Now I panic every time I see a kid run up to her because she growls and snarls at them. So last week I bought her a muzzle and put in on her every time I have to leave her outside the supermarket for a few minutes. Honestly, you would NOT BELIEVE the STUPIDITY of some parents!!! They still let their kid run up to this 'cute muzzled dog'!!!!!! (Who of course barks and growls and snarls even more!!!!) I have had more than one argument with a parent, but nowadays I just tell them to let my dog alone because she hates kids. Anyways, it seems to be a universal problem :)

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  4. OMG!!!!!
    I would have been totally freaking out on this kid...really, then I would have freaked out on the dad!!...you were much more patient then I would have been, your poor dog, dumb kid!

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  5. LOL, thanks for all the comments guys! Im so glad that there are other dog people out there in the universe who agree and would also be horrrified! I did feel bad afterwards (like, FRIDAY, several days afterwards) for the little girl...I mean, she probably DIDNT know any better, and it was up to her dad to be watching out for her and teaching her right from wrong. But at the same time, maybe she'll remember the crazy lady screaming at her the next time her dad doesnt...

    Its hard not to immediately blame the kid when you see her FALL ON AND SQUASH your 7 year old, exhausted, arthritic dog. I imaginee it would be like seeing that same kid plastered to the floor underneath an overly friendly lab...

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  6. Ah yes, children. Ludo is quite wary of them and tries to get away, I try and make him sit nicely and will let children come to say hello to him if they listen to my instructions to come up slowly and pat from underneath, of course they don't, get impatient with him edging away and then leap at him. I just try and avoid them now.

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