The Beagle, the Border Collie, and the Idiot

You, sir, are neither a scholar nor a gentleman.

That’s what I say.  What ConneryBeagle has to say is more to the point:

ConneryBeagle: BAWHFUL!

Each weekend we can, we go tracking with a friend and her Papillion and her Border Collie.  Zoom the BC, to be specific.

As you may recall, ConneryBeagle has no interest in socializing with other dogs in any rare moment when he’s not actually fearful of them (thanks to the series of giant breed dogs who slipped their handlers to come mow us down, back in his first three years).

ConneryBeagle: BAWHFUL!

But quite soon in this training arrangement, it became evident that Connery not only trusted Zoom—one of those dogs who is so grounded that he gives off calming vibes—but that he kind of has a boy-crush on Zoom.

ConneryBeagle: Zoom is a GOOD BOY!

Lookit that face!

Dart thinks so, too, and every time we track we reward the boys with BC/Beagle time afterward.

So, back to the tracking.  Remember a couple weeks ago when we were talking about living with other people’s dogs?  Yeah.  This is more of that.  Because last weekend while tracking around the edge of the campus soccer field, we noticed that a guy with four big dogs off-lead had taken over the center of the field, and that one of his dogs, a white Pittie mix, was giving Zoom the hard eye from a distance.

I like a nice Pittie as well as the next dog person.  But this dog is a problem waiting to happen.  And Zoom didn’t ever so much as look at this dog.  He was working.

I was the tracklayer and back-up person, and I did my best to interrupt the hard stares simply by putting myself between the two dogs and breaking line of sight, and there was enough distance involved so didn’t become a huge concern.  But we were aware.

The dog’s owner?  Not so much.

We completed the track (Zoom did a nice job!) and headed back to the cars, taking a big wide curve around the center of the field because of Idiot and his dogs.

It wasn’t enough of a curve.

All four dogs came running for Zoom—mostly galumphy Lab types, but led by the Pittie with the hard eye.

Maybe I should step aside and say it’s very much one thing to be approached by one dog (as inappropriate as that might be).  But four dogs, once excited by circumstances, will pack up on a fifth dog.  It doesn’t matter how nice they are.  It doesn’t matter if one-on-one they’re fine.  Pack behavior will spiral out of control very quickly—especially if, say, they take offense at the fact that the dog they’re bearing down on is quietly, appropriately telling them to get lost.

Now imagine you’re Zoom, and these four dogs are heading your way with intent.

My friend and I aren’t new at this.  She put Zoom on a down-stay, as quiet and still as possible (but yes, growling.  Very appropriately, too).  I stepped out between them with my arms spread, holding a batch of tracking flags (orange flags on wire, used to mark construction perimeters and underground utilities—you’ve seen them).

“My dogs are friendly!” said Mr. Idiot.

Excuse me while I use some language in response:

Are you effing kidding me?

Oh, okay, I almost used some language.

As if under any circumstances it’s okay to allow your FOUR large dogs run at a strange dog.  As if the white Pittie hadn’t been targeting us from the get-go, and as if he wasn’t planning to ignore my Go-Aways to get to Zoom.  As if any of his dogs were paying the least bit of attention to any and all of our signals that they were not welcome.

As if he EVER attempted to call the dogs away.

Because of course, he and his dogs are the center of the universe.  It is all about them.  Naturally, we were there specifically to welcome, admire, and be harassed by them.

I don’t think so.  I went for the white Pittie and slapped the flags on the ground in front of him.  He thought about going around me; I slapped the ground again.

It was enough.  He turned around.

And Mr. Idiot?  “Geeze, I’m sorry, they weren’t going to bother you.”

You are wrong, Mr. Idiot with your illegally off-leash dogs.  We were beyond bothered—and if we hadn’t managed your hard-eyed dog and his “Yeah!  Yeah!  What you said!” buddies, there would have been an Incident of Significant Proportions.

But we didn’t linger to explain this, because…see above.  Petulant Idiot.  We moved on, keeping our movement casual and our body language quiet.  Getting away from the still unrestrained pack.

He wasn’t done, though.  After a moment, his even more petulant voice followed us across the field.  “Oh, thank you very much!  You scared the $#@! out of my dog! Nice job!”

Did I?  Good.  Maybe that dog will think twice before running at someone again.

Did I?  Good.  I meant to.

It’s people like Mr. Idiot who make it hard for everyone—who create situations where they blithely intrude on everyone else’s enjoyment of public space.  Who make things hard for responsible dog owners everywhere, by tainting us with his blithe, entitled, immature irresponsibility.  (How’s that for a string of disdainful adjectives?)

Children don’t need to face big loose dogs; people who fear dogs don’t deserve to deal with big loose dogs.  No one’s dog deserves to face a pack running at them, and not everyone’s dog is going to take it with obedient restraint. What happens when the target dog snarls an entirely appropriate, “Back off!  You are not welcome!”–?

It’s exactly the excuse a dog with a hard eye is looking for, that’s what.

Dear Mr. Idiot:  A public place is not your dog’s personal playground.  You are not entitled to have your dogs off-leash just because you want to.  You are not Special.  Your dogs are not Special.  And whatever consequences your dogs face because of your humongous Personal Responsibility Fail, on your head be it.

Because no one’s dog ever gets to touch Mr. Zoom.  Or ConneryBeagle.  Ever again.

No, seriously--Lookit that face!

Well, that’s what I say…what I did about it.  What would you have done?  What have you done?



About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
This entry was posted in ConneryBeagle, The Dogs! and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to The Beagle, the Border Collie, and the Idiot

  1. ScadianSeamus says:

    Congrats!!!!!! Jackasses like that DESERVE to get a lot worse happen to them than that !

    Damm does stuff like this make my blood boil!

  2. Tina Forsyth says:

    Call animal control. From the car, on your way home, call animal control. At least, that would work here, in the northeast. We are close enough to on top of each other that loose pets and unresponsive or irresponsible owners are a real concern, and animal control takes it seriously.

    Or you could answer “MY dogs are not friendly, so keep yours away.” I have a neighbor with a Napoleonic pekingese, and she is diligent about warning other dog owners away from her leashed dog. (Another neighbor almost had a heart attack when her unfriendly dog slipped its leash and headed straight for Gus who was unleashed, but sitting on my porch. I held Gus’s collar and told him to stay, so he stayed seated but Interested as the little thing ran up and barked at us from the ground, then she retrieved the dog and dragged it away.)

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I haven’t been in that situation, so “what would I have done” isn’t something I can answer. I walked my dog on a leash when I was a kid/adolescent. So did other people. Loose dogs were picked up and hauled away.

    Loose dogs where I live now have killed people, and the owners have not been convicted of anything. In both cases I know about the person killed was on their own property: one was a teenage girl taking a walk after school–attacked and killed by a two or three-dog pack of large dogs owned by a neighbor (Rottie cross, Doberman); the other was an elderly woman attacked while gardening in her own front yard by–yes–two pit bulls and a crossbreed pit bull/something from a distance away. Recently in this town a police officer shot two dogs (both with pit bull ancestry) that had been the subject of repeated complaints as single and together they had terrorized their part of town–running at adults and children, attacking other peoples’ dogs, knocking down a child, etc. Bad owners always blame the victim–YOUR dog must have done something, YOUR child must have done something, YOU looked at him funny–and always think their dogs are “friendly” and “wouldn’t hurt anybody unless someone did something.”

    I now carry a pistol when I’m out on the land alone on foot. I’ve been challenged by loose dogs on our 80 acres–both large ones of indeterminate breed but clearly containing some “guard dog” genes, and small ones with a lot of terrier (can’t tell if they’re purebred.) And though I am fond of dogs, and have owned dogs, I will kill a dog or dogs before I let them kill me. Fortunately, most dogs are afraid of the noise of a gunshot and take off fast if you shoot into the ground. But the dog that attacks–is going to be a dead dog and I hate that–but I hate the stupid owner who thinks because they live in the country and “Poochie LIKES to be free” it’s OK to let Poochie run loose while owner’s at work or at night. Loose dogs kill deer–sometimes by running pregnant does to exhaustion. Loose dogs harass and sometimes kill livestock. Owners who do not control their dogs DESERVE to have their dogs summarily killed. It’s not the dog’s fault, but neither is it the victim’s fault, and since shooting the owner isn’t OK, defending yourself and your livestock still is.

    What I would do now, if I were you, is report the owner with a description of the dogs involved, for having them off-leash illegally. Send a copy of your blog or a stiff letter similar to it to the local newspaper–ask them if they’re aware of the danger of loose dogs and will consider doing a feature on the problem (not focusing on you but perhaps interviewing parents of kids treated for dog bites, etc.) Plan what you will say if that person confronts you in a grocery or feed store–how you will respond to his attack in a way that will get your side across to any listeners, and including the fact that a) his dogs were off-leash illegally and b) he did not make any attempt to call them back to him and prove they were under control.

    But I think you did magnificently at the time. I would not have been able to avoid filling those gaps with a lot of words learned in the Marines. I now talk to a-holes in the language they understand, when I’m riled enough. And I would have been riled to the roots.

  4. Adrianne says:

    Go you for taking care of yours!

    I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t want another dog. Not because dogs aren’t very loving, but because too many idiots own dogs and have no idea how to handle them/what they’re thinking. Also, I have become one of those people who’s afraid of dogs. I’ve come across too many people with ridgebacks or dobermans or rotties who have no clue when their dog is making aggressive statements.

    And because sometimes I am dog stupid.

    Yesterday I was out on a walk in the woods. I encountered a woman and what we’ll describe as a white GSD. (Yes, I know GSDs don’t come in white, and this guy’s conformation was better than modern GSDs, so I couldn’t begin to tell you his heritage.) Anyway, he was very appropriate with me. He didn’t jump all over me. He didn’t force himself on me. He gave me space when I made it clear I wasn’t interested in playing with him. His owner walked off without us, and I followed at my usual slow pace. He galloped through the woods investigating this and that until he found a deer spine right next to the trail ahead of me. Oh boy! What a prize! He crunched off meat and bones and shouted “happy!” with his body. Until I walked up behind him. At which point he startled right out of his skin, and came up in a crouch.

    I was stupid. I should have given him space with his bones.

    But not too stupid. He was not aggressive, just shocked. So I said, “Come on! Let’s go!” in a happy voice. I gave him a positive direction, and he took it. He galloped off towards his master. I got lucky. He was a very good dog. Next time, I’ll give dogs with bones more space.

    But you can bet that I’ll be begging for better enforcement of leash laws on the trails. I shouldn’t have to feel threatened every time I go for a walk.

    Zoom is very cute!

    • Doranna says:

      Adrianne–Zoom is cute! And so very good with fearful Connery. He is the rare dog who is so naturally centered that he’s happy to soothe a concerned dog but isn’t afraid of pushy dogs. Connery being approached by those dogs would have been a disaster–he’s so wary that he would have started bawling alarm, and that would only have triggered them off.

      GSDs do come in white. But if it wasn’t quite GSD, it might have been a Kuvasz. Which I have spelled wrong. Anyway, it wasn’t your responsibility to monitor and assess the woman’s dog. Yes, if you’re lucky, you have the skills that you do, and you managed it really well. But if you’d been growled at or bitten, blaming you would be blaming the victim. It’s the *owner’s* responsibility to make sure *her* dog isn’t in a position to be a problem to you. That means on-leash in public areas. Or, if this is an official off-leash area, it means being close enough to her dog and in control of her dog, so that by the time you got close to him with his bone treasure, she either had his hand on her collar or could say, “Oh, I’m sorry–he’s just found a bone. Could you give us some space while I leash him?”

  5. Tina Forsyth says:

    Elizabeth, and Adrianne – yes! I forgot to say, what Doranna and friend did with Zoom and with Connery was perfect. What a great dog Zoom is.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Zoom reminds me of the dog I grew up with — a rescue from the Fort Worth dog pound. He was a Beagle/Border Collie cross. Can you say “high energy”? He was also one of the most mellow dogs around. (He needed both the high energy and the mellow to put up with the me-I-was!) About a half-dozen Girl Scout troops earned their First Aid to Animals badges practicing on Rex, that’s how mellow he was.

    Anyway — I have been there, and done that with Shadow and Sunny. I was out walking — and this is a suburban area, not even a walking trail — and a large ghu-knows-what came running at us. Shadow and Sunny were young; they had no concept that the World is Not Always Friendly. Large Dog leaped at ME — luckily, I was wearing a jacket (not always a given in the Deep South — and got my arm up and shoved it in the dog’s mouth. (Of course he wasn’t wearing a collar or anything.) An instant later, S&S realized what was happening and drove Large Dog off — you do not want to endanger a standard Dachshund’s person! The dog did not break the skin, though I reported the incident. I had never seen Large Dog before, and I never saw it again.

    But to this day, Shadow, in particular, is extremely hyper on the subject of Large Dogs in my vicinity. He’s wary if His Harry is walking them, but I have to keep a firm hand on the leash if I am because Shadow WILL NOT let other (large) dogs approach me. He’ll lunge at them to drive them off. He’s gotten much better since we’ve been going to Bella Doggie because he meets numerous well-behaved dogs there.

    We used to go to the Farmer’s Market when S&S were younger, and they were always well behaved except when Numbskulls brought their Large Dogs and let them wander around on a 30 foot lead. “Oh, my dog is friendly!” they would say, when I’d ask them to pull their dogs in. At which point, I’d look at them and say, “Mine will not allow yours to approach me because we were attacked once. Pull him/her away.” And they’d look shocked. “But my dog wouldn’t do THAT!”

    Now the Market folk knew Shadow and Sunny weren’t unfriendly — they’d been there the day the little blond boy (about 3-4 years old, maybe) came racing across the Market, went into a baseball sli-i-i-de and popped up between S&S, threw his arms around their necks and HUGGED. I was tremendously proud of my Dachshunds, because in a lesser pair of hounds, that boy could have gotten bitten. Shadow and Sunny? They went into a sit-stay and looked at me for instructions on “What do we do now, Missy?”

    Blond Boy’s mom arrived just a fraction to late to stop the HUG, and she apologized profoundly. Her son loved all dogs. I unwrapped Young Friendly from S&S and informed him, “You know, Shadow are Sunny are friendly. But other dogs might bite.” And then I instructed him on how to correctly approach a dog and its owner if he didn’t know the dog. His mom thanked me. I hope the lesson stuck with the boy.

    I dunno… I sometimes think obedience classes should be mandatory for owning a dog. Not, mind you, because I think the dog is a problem. But because the owners need to learn how to handle a dog, for the dog’s sake. Because the dogs pay the penalty for stupid or untrained owners.

  7. Kendra says:

    You showed AWESOME CONTROL! I’m quite sure I couldn’t have maintained that – I would guess *required* – control. I would have gotten mad and my emotion would have further excited already excited dogs.

    Leash laws are not leash suggestions – they are leash LAWS. For some reason the culture makes us all forget that we do not have to make that judgement call all over again – that we are not ASKing anything – that that decision has already been made – and all you (should) have to do is point it out so that a cop can enforce it.

    I wish there were leash laws – something about keeping your dog contained to your property – where I live. Back woods Oklahoma – and Arkansas – all tend to the same thinking. It seems like there’s a core Education that hasn’t happened. These dog owners have not ‘Gotten It’.

    This IS the way I grew up. I remember the thinking – or lack of it. Mostly it was a ranch thing – an attitude toward animals of – we try to keep most of them alive – but it’s not worth the money to do THAT much work for just ONE animal… I know this doesn’t probably apply to your particular Idiot. But I think it’s a large base of country-folk.

    Another thing I remember from growing up. You always stepped back from dog’s fighting. The rule was “Let them work it out.” It was a dog thing and nothing a person could do about it.

    One more thought – I remember the first time I ‘grew out’ of that place. I had my first big dog (German Shepherd) on a leash – and my neighbor walked up with their little dog off leash. I thot it was fine because my (young) dog had ALWAYs been nice. Well little dog said something mine didn’t like and suddenly chaos erupted and little dog was in my dog’s mouth. Well I got little dog out and he went away unharmed and the neighbor was actually nice. But. I LEARNED. I had major stress over that event for a long time. And I evolved different patterns.

    I have been lucky actually that my learning has been while my dog has been ON leash or on my property. It really helps with my guilt. But what I continue to feel bad about is – it doesnt help the other dog. NONE of these situations are the dog’s fault. And we have some really major educational changes to go before we have owner’s properly taking CARE of their own animals.

  8. Doranna says:

    ScadianS, people like that deserve to absorb the consequences rather than the people around them, that’s for sure.

    Tina, I have a couple of canned responses to the “my dog is friendly line.” Generally I don’t give them time for it–I see the dog coming and I say in a loud, clear voice, “CALL YOUR DOG.” (Or leash your dog, or control your dog…). Owner says, “My dog is friendly.” I said, “CALL YOUR DOG.” So it’s clear that I have no intention of engaging them and don’t want their dog. And if anything happens, I can state without hesitation that I made the request (multiple times). I don’t have to guess what I said…I know it.

    If the circumstances aren’t as needful of directness, I do just say, “My dog isn’t. My dog is afraid of yours, and we’ve been attacked in the past. Call your dog.” (But if it’s Connery, by this time he’s baying high alarm…)

    I don’t tend to think first of calling AC. Most performance people won’t. While there are excellent AC officers, recent years have brought a plague of power abuse, and this area has seen its share of Animal Rights infiltration. That’s a long conversation for another time…

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Robin McKinley has the same sorts of problems when out with her dogs. There are areas where dogs are supposed to be leashed, and fields where they can be off-leash. Hers are sight-hounds (not sure which breed) and occasionally–large field, no livestock, no other dogs–she’ll let them run. But on paths, they’re on-leash. But other peoples’ aren’t always and one of hers is becoming defensive about the onrushing critter whose owner is saying “Don’t worry, he’s friendly” or just ignoring the whole thing and acting offended when she tells them to leash/call/control their dogs.

    It was awful when our autistic son was little–he was scared by a dog early on (and with his visual perception problems, he wasn’t seeing motion as a continuity anyway–he saw it as a series of jerky stills). Then people kept saying “But X is FRIENDLY. And he needs to learn to put up with dogs.” Or “I read in a magazine that dogs are good for autism.” No. A kid who already has problems in perception, and is already afraid, does not need to be forced into contact with someone’s dog…someone, and the dog, that I don’t know and have no idea if it has any training at all. (The sort of setter-like reddish dog that ran up to us and jumped on me as our son climbed me like a pole to get away, for instance. “He won’t hurt you,” shouted the happy owner, from half a block away. “He loves people and children.”)

  10. Doranna says:

    Elizabeth, I like your ideas. And I’m with you totally–I love dogs–oh heck, my life IS dogs–but my dogs come first, my horse comes first, *I* come first. I won’t risk injury to any of us in order to accommodate irresponsible owners. At any given time I have a bonker stick or pepper spray (must replace mine…), and if I was you I’d have a pistol, too (I had a bunch of dogs pack up on Duncan and I while out riding the canals when I was in the valley, and if I’d had one, I’d’ve used it. Fortunately Duncan is calm about dogs, so I managed by turning to quietly stand and face them every time their interest peaked, then walked quietly a little ways down…turned and faced them…etc.)

    Anyway, I wasn’t carrying those flags by accident; they weren’t part of our activities. I figured they would make a big deterrent whapping noise if it came to it (as it did), and I figured they would work as a decent startling defense weapon used around an aggressive dog’s face if it came to THAT (which it didn’t, but almost)–but that meanwhile I wouldn’t look like I was looking for trouble.

    We had not worked this section of the campus before and if we go back, we’ll get there before dawn to lay tracks and streamline our program to get out of there before people come out to misbehave. (Unfortunately, because we’re both training for the VST that takes place on this campus, and because this very soccer field is always the first track, we don’t want to eschew it.)

  11. Doranna says:

    Marilyn, what very, VERY good dogs! That *is* a case where the person would have had to bear responsibility–but it wouldn’t be blaming the victim. The victims were the dogs! Good Dachsies–make your Missy give you cookies on me!

    I’m glad you weren’t hurt by that dog, and of course it changed how your dogs saw approaching dogs forever more. Badger dogs are not to be taken lightly!

    I was attacked by a GSD when I was sixteen, and even though I did all the right things…well, let’s just say that dog had made up his mind. I can still remember thinking, as he charged across the field at me, “That dog is not going to stop.” I was lucky because he was bad at what he was doing, and bit my thigh lengthwise instead of closing his jaws around it. It took about two months to heal.

    My wonderhound, Strider, was a mountain dog who knew how to fight from his varmint hunting. When we moved to the suburbs it was a constant stress to keep loose dogs away from us, because although he didn’t give a hoot about them in general, he would NOT allow their approach to me and while they were the equivalent of puffed up bullies shouting, “I’m tough! I’m tough!”, he was the silent but deadly warrior. He didn’t posture. He DID IT. I kicked more than one dog away with full impact and it was an effort to protect THEM.

  12. Doranna says:


    Robin might find it useful to use the Look at That game from Control unleashed. It was a huge tool for me when I was rehabbing Connery, and he still spontaneously plays it to deal with concerns. The other thing he learned was that I would protect him. One of the ways I do that is to always put my body between him and an oncoming dog (as I’m doling out cookies to him…). I hired a trainer to practice this with him under controlled conditions…

    Not that she should have to deal with it at all.

    No child should ever, ever have to deal with a strange oncoming dog. I’m sorry. Anyone who can’t see that is so self-centered they need to be walled off into a safe community. Anyone who thinks it’s up to THEM to decide how someone else’s child should deal with their emotions, ditto.

    In a way I dealt with the same thing–especially right after the final attack on Connery, when he was so very fragile. “My dog is good with other dogs.They should socialize.” And I’d have to get quite firm, because it was the last thing Connery needed right then, no matter how perfect the other dog was. Even now, I demur on such offers until I’ve had the chance to observe that dog over time (Zoom’s mom will tell you that I had to be convinced, but I’m glad I was). People don’t always understand what will be threatening to a smaller dog. (Connery hates Boxers, for instance. They stare; it’s a breed thing. It’s not the BC “eye”–it’s a very flat, “Gonna Make Something Of It?” kind of stare. He’ll absorb it for a few moments and then he’ll tell me about it.)

  13. Adrianne says:

    It’s true, Owner’s last name must be O’Blivious. She had no clue what her dog was doing. Nor was she close to him. The open space is marked that dogs must either be on leash or have tags saying that they passed voice control tests. This is one of the few dogs that I think could have passed said test. He wasn’t at all aggressive, and he did obey her when she bothered to call.

    The Kuvasz has floppy ears, this guy pointy ones. The white shepherd looks about right, except this guy didn’t have the crunched up rear end, and his spine wasn’t quite as long.

    But you’re right. I shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked every time I go out. And I do.

  14. Morgan says:

    Sounds to me like a good job on your part.

    It seems to me that a dog being friendly is an excellent reason to keep it leashed. Sam was very friendly and interested in people–large, small, adults, children. We did discourage him from jumping (our training skills weren’t great), but he seemed to take that as a suggestion rather than a rule. So holding him by the collar when visitors or delivery people came seemed a no-brainer to us.

    I note that the Idiot Owners’ responses tend to start with “I” and “My,” as well as being statements. It’s clear where their focus is (as though it’s not already been made clear by their actions).

    One positive experience I’ve had: Sam and I met an owner and her Pittie in a pet store. She and the dog were both well-trained: she let me know that while he was a good dog, he wasn’t necessarily friendly with other dogs. Her dog was quiet and sitting still, but I kept in mind that some dogs can break free from the best-intentioned people. (Early on, when exploring his new yard, Sam managed to drag me several feet across the yard.) Other dogs, especially those smaller than him, made Sam nervous, but he was trying to get close enough to smell the other dog. I figured a couple of feet was close enough, and the other owner didn’t correct me on that. I gave Sam a couple of seconds, then moved on. The whole encounter was quiet and pleasantly uneventful.

  15. doranna says:

    Morgan, yup–a couple of seconds is all any “we meet in passing” interaction should last. Any longer than that and it puts unnatural social pressure on the dogs, and can escalate because of it (even when the dogs otherwise might not be inclined to say words to one another).

    I love your take on leashing dogs who are friendly. Big goofy “friendly” dogs are in truth the very worst social offenders. Just because they’re saying LOVE ME LOVE ME! doesn’t mean it’s appropriate–from either the human or the other dog POV–to emote in someone’s face. In my circles, when an adult dog scolds a puppy or adolescent for their pushy, forward nature, the offender’s owner is likely to say, “Good! He needs to learn that lesson!”

    A puppy’s early weeks are golden when it comes to social learning. They *need* to be with other dogs, and their siblings–and people.

  16. Deborah says:

    I’m really glad you were able to protect Zoom and the rest of your group, Doranna. At the moment I carry mace when walking my corgis, although I’d much prefer to mace the owner than another dog. And I understand that mace isn’t always effective on all dogs, particularly if they’re in an attacking frenzy. So far, fortunately, I’ve only had a few encounters with off-leash dogs in our nearby suburban park. The last time an owner yelled not to worry because “My dog’s friendly” I responded that I’m wasn’t and they needed to get their dog away from me NOW. I was pleased with the resulting scramble.

  17. doranna says:

    I was just at a K9 demo where the handler said, in fact, that gas and such simply isn’t as effective.

    I use a Fox Labs pepper spray in a trigger cannister, and I’m convinced that the sound it makes is as important as the spray itself. But I admit, I’ve been considering a stun baton. For one thing, I heard from a biker that the very sound of the thing is–like the sound of the spray–a deterrent. And it doesn’t put spray into the air that might mess with MY dog…or MY asthma!

    I like your “*I’m* not friendly” response. I have to admit that I’ve considered it (as opposed to “my dog isn’t friendly.”) For one thing, I hate to slander my dogs.

    One thing that happens with such moments, I think, is that the owners really do know better…they just want it to be all right because they want to misbehave anyway. When someone calls them on it, it’s not comfortable, so…petulant snark can ensue, an effort to make the victim feel like the problem. Screw that.

  18. Crysta says:

    That is one adorable Border Collie. Too cute.

    I’ve never been attacked by a dog, but I’ve had loose dogs around here run right up to me barking and growling. Little dogs, but they still have teeth! Usually they’re alone, and they stop as soon as I say anything. Usually I ask them “What’s the matter?” or “Why are you barking?” and they just run back the other direction. If one tried to bite me though, all bets are off. I love dogs, but if the little sucker attacks me it’s getting kicked in the face. I don’t have the option to carry a weapon or mace when I’m walking because usually I’m on my way to class, and that stuff isn’t allowed on campus.

    Bigger dogs generally don’t worry me unless they’re giving me the “look.” Only thing I can do is give them the “look” back and hope they take me seriously… but most of the big dogs around here are either extremely shy or so friendly they’ll lick your face off.

  19. doranna says:

    Crysta–Zoom is a very nice boy indeed!

    Standing your ground with a smaller dog is generally a decent option, especially if you’re centered and calm about it.

    Giving bigger dogs “the look” is a strategy that works best on those who are just exploring the idea of approaching you. For a dog who really, truly means business, it’s like calling them out.

    For a seriously threatening dog, it’s best not to meet their eyes at all. Present your body off-center or sideways, whatever’s most comfortable, and watch them peripherally. Don’t turn your back, don’t challenge them…step away sideways during a moment when they aren’t on the verge of moving toward you.

    Connery is a perfect example of how sensitive dogs are to eye contact, and how little we think about it. Within 18 months of that final attack, he would react with panicked fear when someone he didn’t know looked him directly in the eye. Even now, if a person or dog gives him a direct stare, he bays his alarm call–which is how he handles his concern. So I know *exactly* how often even dog people cross this particular line. The alarm call basically says, “Mymom, they are giving me The Stare and I need you to fix it!” But that was part of his rehab–getting him to understand that he could turn to me with his needs. (He’s the one who chose this particular method of dealing with staring–also with off-leash dogs at any distance. “Off-leash dog! Off-leash dog! Make me feel safe!”)

    The point being, Connery reacts with fear because of who he is and what he’s been through. An aggressive dog will rise to the challenge.

  20. Marilyn says:

    Shadow and Sunny aren’t sure why they got treats in the middle of the day, but they aren’t about to say “No!”

    Too many people think of Dachshunds as “small, fat weiner dogs.” They aren’t — an acquaintance tells the story of a Doberman who went for some neighborhood children. Their Dachshund saw it coming, came flying out from under the house in a running arc and literally ripped the Dobe’s throat out. Dobe’s owner tried to sue — but Owner had already received warnings about other attacks on adults while the Dachshund never left his own yard except on a leash. The Dobe had leaped the fence to try to reach the children.

    All I can say is — with that attack you had by a GSD, it’s no wonder BOTH you and Connery had issues after those multiple attacks you both experienced. That you both have come back from it is amazing!

  21. Tina Forsyth says:

    I thought Animal Control might turn out to be a regional thing. New England shelters import animals from other places to fill the adoption needs here, and Animal Control tends to be local and flexible.

  22. doranna says:

    Marilyn–I did have issues after Connery’s last attack. I went down, too, and sprained my wrist badly, and I think it’s safe to say that Connery and I rehabbed together. It most definitely colors how strongly I feel about uncontrolled dogs. I do struggle to be, shall we say, socially appropriate when I have to deal with such things…and such idiots.

    I was a teen when I was attacked by the shepherd, and even I wondered why it didn’t put me off dogs at that point. I guess some people are just Dog People.

    It wasn’t the first time I was bitten, either. A family dog–a rescue of sorts–nailed me hard when I was three, which is a pretty impressionable age! But even then I blamed myself for not respecting her space and told my folks it wasn’t her fault. Only later–after another bite–did we learn how badly she had been abused before we got her. My folks did the responsible thing at that point; you don’t keep a biting dog in a “young” neighborhood full of children.

    Good on that Dobie-stopping Dachsie! I wish I could say it’s hard to believe that the dog’s owners sued.

  23. Lynette says:

    Unfortunately we have that problem here in the apartments I live at – people have dogs and let them run loose when taking them out for bathroom trips, and of course not picking up after them…I even had an upstairs neighbor who left her dog out on the balcony to do its “business “, then swept it down into my patio. I’ve tried reminding people regarding the leash law (and cleaning up after them ), but it tends to fall on deaf ears. Reporting them to apartment management helps, but worries me that too many complaints may make the apartments reconsider allowing pets.

    The worst offender I’ve ever had was the upstairs neighbor who left the dog on the balcony -to she started taking him out, but then just would let him out the front door where he would run around, snap at people unprovoked, and run out in front of cars before heading back upstairs to be let back in. Attempts to talk with her regarding this were met with disdain and ignored. The last straw was when one evening she let him out, then because he wouldn’t come back in and she couldn’t catch him she simply LEFT HIM OUTSIDE!!!!! For over an hour, in a high traffic area, next to a major road….I contacted apartment management and she ended up being evicted, which I felt bad about, however I had tried to be polite, guess it wasn’t received well?

    Animal control in our area doesn’t do much either, they may or may not answer the phone, and I’ve gotten the answer of “try and find the owner” before. Sheesh! I can’t find/ the owner won’t do anything, that’s why I’m calling animal control ….

    I think you handled the situation well, Connery is lucky to have a great mom like you!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    When I was about 16, I was walking down a country road from a friend’s place to the highway. At the highway was a house with two big GSDs, sometimes penned and sometimes loose. We drove in that way usually, and I always looked to see if they were loose before walking that direction on the road. That house by the highway, one other between our friend’s place and the highway, were the only homes, and on the other side of the road was a field–one crop or another, and across from our friend’s place, a citrus orchard. Across the highway was one house and fields. The next road down (a half mile or more) had one house at the other end, a mile from the highway next to the next n/s paved road.

    So I thought they were penned this particular time. They weren’t. They came charging across their (very large) yard straight at me, and it was very serious. As they came nearer it was that eager snarly thing. I wasn’t on their land–I was across the gravel road from them–but they had no “stop and bark at the edge of the road”–it was full-out charge the whole way. I knew not to run. I knew not to let them knock me down. I knew that if you could stand it, you could ram your hand down an attacking dog’s throat (at the cost of your arm, maybe) and choke it, because someone we knew had, in the war. But two dogs, and two skinny teenager arms? Wasn’t looking forward to that. Been bitten once, as a child, didn’t like it.

    I stood still, and as they skidded to a crouch, I talked to them. Not in a command voice, but in a friendly voice. Completely unconcerned voice. “Oh, you nice dogs! You’re so pretty! What good boys you are!” and similar prattle. Modulated, relaxed voice, talking and talking. They came closer, growling. I did the mock-scolding loving owner voice “Oh, you silly–you don’t want to do that. Come on now, be good boys.” And so on. Quiet body, friendly voice.

    It confused them. One sniffed at me. The other circled. I moved a little–they went back to the hard stares and the snarls. I mock-scolded them. The one behind grabbed my jeans leg and tugged a little. I said “Oh, stop that! You know you’re not supposed to do that, you silly boy. Be good”…to both dogs, because as the backside dog was tugging on my jeans, the dog in front rose up and put his paws on my chest, pushing. A very practiced pair of attack dogs, but confused. Without moving my arms I said, just slightly more firmly, “Get down–be a good dog.” The front dog dropped back to all fours, the back dog let go of my jeans.

    They would not let me go back the way I’d come. Any move that way was snarls and crouches to attack. They continued to test–pawing at my leg, etc. I’m sure they smelled my collie on me, too–on my jeans, on my shoes. Eventually they let me go toward the highway, one step at a time, with me coaxing and praising and moving slowly. Cars drove by on the highway, but what it looked like–so I knew there was no help coming–was a girl and her dogs playing. I wanted the owners to come home–to come out in the yard if they WERE home–but that didn’t happen. When I got to the highway verge, I began working my way south, to the next gravel road. They stayed right with me. Their semi-attacks tapered off and I was finally able to walk one step after another, slowly, but I had to keep looking around, because that “get ’em from the rear” dog would close in. They began giving me distance…and finally they stopped and watched. I didn’t run. I just walked on at the same pace, I was 2/3 of the way to the next road when they turned and trotted back to their house as if nothing had happened. I walked on to the road, keeping a very wary eye out–the field between was open enough I’d have seen them coming. When the first belt of orchard cut off my view back and theirs of me, the adrenalin had to have its way. I ran like a deer (I was tall, skinny, and a very fast runner) up that road, flat out, then ran across the half-to-3/4 mile between the roads through the orchard, burning off the terror chemicals.

    If I had flailed, if I had screamed, if I had tried to run…I know they’d have killed me. Everything in their behavior said so. They wanted to attack. They wanted me to make a mistake…they tried to push me, scare me, into running, hitting, screaming. My mistake was thinking that dogs in pens at 3 pm will still be dogs in pens at 5 pm. My luck was having had a large dog myself for six years at that point, and having been taught (by my mother, whose father had large dogs, and who had Scotties herself when she was younger) how to read dog and what to do.

  25. doranna says:

    E, that gives me the shivers. How amazing you were!

    My situation was like that in many ways, but not. That is, it was isolated and wooded, with no one else in view, but there was only one dog–not one I knew to be in the area. And I did all the right things and it just never hesitated, but I didn’t have much warning–it was a tangled, undergrowthy kind of area in the woods. I was biking on a path, so I suspect it was triggering to the bike even though I immediately stopped moving.

    Now, my hollering (“Get off!” not shrieking) got the distant owner’s attention, and that person called for the dog, who–when he got bored with ruining my winter jacket and my thigh–ran off back home. But the person never came out to see who his dog had been mauling. Charming.

    (We did call the police, once I got home.)

    I was in truth very lucky. Had I not had the winter jacket on, I would have been much bloodier.

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