runningwithrewards

Living a balanced life with lots of creative food, exercise and exploration!

To Leash or Not to Leash?

on February 11, 2014

This post is neither running nor nutrition related, but more a general post and request for advice.

Conor and I are the proud parents of a wonderful black lab mix.  He’s a medium sized dog (quite small for a lab), weighing in at about 40 pounds.  We adopted him about a year and a half ago, and totally hit the doggie jackpot.  He’s loving, sweet, and playful.

IMG_0704

His absolute favorite thing in the world to do is play fetch.  It combines his love of chewing with his affinity for running (not inherited from me I can tell you that much!).

We are fortunate to have a large open park in front of our apartment complex (about 3/4 the size of a football field).  It’s a public park, meaning it is the property of the county, not the apartment complex.  In our county, it’s mandated that all dogs be on a leash unless in designated dog parks.  But, we have a very dog friendly complex and many of us use the park to allow our dogs time to play in the evenings, usually off-leash.

Recently we dog owners have been the brunt of a back lash against the lack of leashes.  We’ve received notices and emails reminding us that our lease requires leashes on apartment property, and that the county does as well in the park.  Most of us have chosen to risk a civil ticket in the park area in order for our dogs to be able to experience the park, play together, and run around freely.  Still, this has been a contentious issue of late.

Last night, Conor and I were accosted approached by a fellow dog owner.  While throwing with Leroy, the owner of a small terrier type dog approached us holding her dog.  As she came up to us, her dog pretty much lost it.  He started yelping and barking and making an incredible fuss.  She said, “Garble Garble….” We heard,  “BARK BARK BARK YIP YIP.”

“What?  We can’t hear you.”

“Something something dog on a leash something….”  BARK BARK HOWL YIP

dog

“What?”  Conor went up to her so he could try to hear her.  I couldn’t really deal with the sound, so I stayed back and continued to throw with Leroy.  She continued, “you really should keep your dog on the leash.  It’s the law.”

I responded, “we know, but he’s a really good dog, never goes up to other dogs, and never runs off.  There’s no one around, no one else uses the park, and this is his absolute favorite time of day.  It’s worth the risk to us.”

BARK BARK YIP YIP anger from the owner HOWL YIP YIP squirm squirm

She said something along the lines of “Well, it also protects owners of other dogs.  My dog is ‘dog-aggressive’ and can’t really deal with other dogs.  He gets extremely aggressive when other dogs are off leash.  You guys should keep yours on a leash and abide by the policy.”

So, while she was really trying to take some of the blame on herself due to her dog, the sheer volume of the noise her dog was making turned the conversation into a confrontation, and she became quite angry.  We continued back and forth, until she finally walked away in disgust when we wouldn’t concede.

Conor and I were pretty upset by this  At first we were angry at being attacked, and being so constantly antagonized lately by management in the building and now this.  But, Conor took a step back from my indignant retort, and in response to my complaint that she should just train her dog better, he said, “ya know, maybe she adopted him and he was traumatized or abused.  It’s not her fault the dog is like that.  We could have had that with Leroy but we got lucky.”  Okay….he has a point.  But still, as the owner of the disruptive dog, shouldn’t she be the one to shelter her dog?  “Well yeah, but she should be able to walk her dog, her dog deserves it, and it’s not her fault he freaks out around other dogs.  Plus, she has the law on her side”  Hmmm….

I’m mainly writing to vent.  I’m not sure who/what is right here.  Yes the law requires people to leash their dogs, and probably for good reason.  But, if we choose to risk that with a well-behaved dog, (who, by the way is pretty anti-social [a problem for another day!] and actually ignores most other dogs when walking by) who absolutely loves to run in a park that is otherwise not used, shouldn’t we have that choice without being accosted?  She walked up to us, causing the consternation of her dog.  Additionally, other dogs being leashed wouldn’t really help her dog.  Dogs, other than my anti-social pup, by nature go up to other dogs to sniff, smell, and say hello.  A leash doesn’t stop that really.  The owner would have to pull back forcefully to prevent the animals from this interaction.

Additionally,  while pondering the whole curfuffle this morning, I walked Leroy (on his leash mind you), as I do every morning.   As we turned a corner, a friend in the building was out walking his two dogs on leashes.  One of them is smaller than Leroy, went up to Leroy and sniffed.  Leroy kept walking and ignored the dog as per usual.  The other dog, who’s probably about 65 pounds and much taller than Leroy, lunged at him in excitement, then jumped on me.  Now, I know these dogs and I know that dog is just super happy and excited in the morning so it doesn’t bother me.  But, it still evinces a lack of control by the owner, which is NOT hampered in the slightest by his being on the leash.  I wondered how the woman from last night would have responded.  The owner was in full compliance with the “law,” but her dog would have been much more threatened by that leashed dog, than if Leroy walked by her dog leashless (in compliance with the spirit of the law I’d argue – that he keeps to himself and isn’t a threat to other dogs/people).

I mean, look at this guy!

IMG_0675 IMG_0837

 

So cute.  Who could be afraid of him šŸ™‚

What do you guys think?  Should we bite the bullet and limit his freedom and happiness for the very vocal minority?  Should we move away to the country?  Should everyone just keep to themselves and not act as citizen enforcers when they’re mainly displeased by their own plight?  Hmmm…

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