Off The Leash And Out Of Line

, , , , , , , | Friendly | June 2, 2020

In the north-central part of Calgary, Alberta, there is a large park that is kept as close to natural prairie conditions as possible, the only upgrades being surfaced paths to limit where people can walk. A significant portion of it is designated as an off-leash area. Although we had no dogs at the time, we often walked there.

One day, we were on a path that intersected another path at right angles. On our left on the new trail, walking towards the intersection, were a woman and her dog. The animal was perhaps forty pounds, acting in a non-threatening manner and, of course, not on a lead. On the trail to our right, walking in the opposite direction, was a family of four — two boys, ages between six and ten, a small mom in her forties, and the tall, heavyset father.

When the two parties were perhaps fifteen meters apart, the dad yelled, “Put that dog on a leash!” There was no hint of a request in his voice.

The woman replied, “Sir, this is an off-lead area.”

The father responded, “My little guy is afraid of dogs. Leash him!”

I wanted to ask him why he took his kids there, but decided discretion was the better part of valor. The woman did leash the dog and another bully got rewarded.

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Ignoring The Signs To The Max

, , , , , , | Friendly | June 2, 2020

I have worked with and fostered rescue dogs for several years now. When I started, I made a point to learn as much as possible about dog behavior and found an excellent trainer who was willing to come to my house to work with the dogs who weren’t ready to go to the training center.

Keeping that in mind, I know the average dog owner might not have as much knowledge as someone like me, even if they have their dog trained. But I still feel like — in a perfect world — there should be some basic, common sense things that even the most inexperienced dog owner could grasp. 

Right now, I’m working with a pit-bull-mix boy named Max who spent the first couple years of his life isolated, tied outside on a chain. He’s a sweetheart with people, eager to learn, and has gotten along with every dog I’ve had him around after being properly introduced.

One issue he still has, though, is barrier and territory defensiveness. Having a fence or other barrier between him and a new dog makes him react. He’s never tried to attack another dog on the other side of a fence, but he’s clearly defensive — hackles up, tail stiff, barking, and occasionally growling. We’re working on it, and he’s already made some great progress.

One day, I’m playing with him in the backyard when I see a man walking his Labrador down the street outside of my neighborhood. I don’t know him, but I’ve seen him in passing around town, so I wave back when he waves hello. 

Max notices and barks, as more of an acknowledgment that he sees them. I start to redirect him, but instead of focusing on our game, he’s getting more agitated. I look back up and see that this guy has turned onto our street and is making a beeline for my house. 

Now I’m trying to put myself between Max and the fence and redirect him, and I’m holding up a hand trying to tell this guy to stop. But he keeps going. He makes it within shouting distance of my house. 

“Aw, doesn’t he sound ferocious!” he says, and he laughs. Laughs

Then, he keeps walking towards us and I realize he thinks he’s going to introduce his dog to Max through the fence. The one silver lining is that at least his guy’s dog is calm and doesn’t seem interested in Max either way.

I straighten up and say sternly, “That’s not a good idea. Please back away.” 

Of course, I get a “WTF” face from him, like he isn’t doing anything wrong. Normally, I like to take the time to explain why I’m asking for certain things when it comes to the dogs, but Max is so worked up I don’t even want to deal with it. 

It takes some work, but as soon as the guy and his dog are back on the main road I am able to get Max calmed down enough to follow me back into the house. 

I just don’t get it. You might not know a lot about animals, but surely, if you see me struggling to keep my dog in check, it might be a hint that you should, I don’t know, back off? It’s not cute, and it’s not funny.

What really bothered me was, if something bad had happened, Max is at higher risk of being blamed simply for being a bully-breed. I’m still deciding how I want to handle it the next time I run into this guy.

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Don’t Have A Cow, Man, Part 4

, , , | Right | June 1, 2020

When someone asks why I hesitate to answer the phone at work, this is the story I tell.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Store]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Caller: “I need a cow.”

Me: “A… cow?”

Caller: *Scoffs* “Yeah, like moo. Horns, udders. A cow.”

Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t sell cattle.”

Caller: “No. A cow.”

Me: “I’m sorry, we don’t sell ‘a cow.’”

Caller: “Why not?”

Me: “We don’t house livestock. You could try an auction house; [Farming Company in the next town] might be able to direct you.”

Caller: “Well, you sell animals, right?”

Me: “We sell small animals. Rabbits, reptiles, rodents… not cattle.”

Caller: “That’s dumb.”

Me: “I’m sorry we don’t have what you’re looking for.”

Caller: “Why not?”

Me: *Fed up* “We don’t have a livestock license. We sell small pets, not large farm animals.”

Caller: “Well, how am I supposed to get a cow?”

Me: “As I said, there’s a farm supply store, or you could try an auction. I know there are farm shows going on all summer. Maybe ask a vet?”

Caller: “F*** you and your stupid store!” *Hangs up*

Don’t Have A Cow, Man, Part 3
Don’t Have A Cow, Man, Part 2
Don’t Have A Cow, Man

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Poor Baby. Ollie, Not The Kid.

, , , , , , | Related | May 28, 2020

My neighbors have a small dog named Ollie who can get a little yappy. He only makes excessive noise when he needs something or is unhappy, from what I’ve seen. They take good care of him, so it’s not usually a problem.

Then, they have a baby. Ollie has always been comfortable being an indoor dog and only going outside for short walks. The neighbors start leaving him outside all day long once the baby comes, and Ollie is not at all happy with this. He yaps at their back door most of the day.

Instead of addressing the core issue, they just shout out the window, “Shut up, Ollie!” whenever he gets too loud.

Fast forward a year, and their baby is starting to talk. Care to guess what his first words are? 

That’s right, they are, “Shut up, Ollie!”

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The Secret With Dogs Is Consistency

, , , , , | Friendly | May 28, 2020

A neighbor’s dog, large but still a puppy, has slipped her collar. The dog is usually very well-behaved and has learned commands well. The neighbor is pretty friendly, laid back, and in control, so I am a bit surprised to see the dog running back and forth in the street as the young man chases after, swinging her leash and cursing and yelling at the dog to stop.

Of course, the dog thinks it is a great, fun game and keeps running, staying close but out of reach, and nearly getting hit by cars a couple of times. “Stop” is probably not a command that she’s been taught.

Me: “[Neighbor], stop and command [Dog] to ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’ She thinks you’re playing with her and she’ll keep running if you keep chasing her.

Neighbor: “She’s my dog and I’ll handle it my way. Butt out!”

As I watch, the “game” continues for several more minutes, the neighbor getting more and more frustrated and upset at his dog but still chasing after her and cursing and shouting. Finally, after the dog is nearly hit by another car, he stops running.

Neighbor: “[Dog], sit! Stay!”

The dog immediately sat, allowing the young man to walk right up and slip her collar back on and lead her back home.

Although it was hard not to say anything, I didn’t, as I was glad disaster was avoided and I didn’t want to antagonize the already upset young man. The next time I saw them, the dog was wearing a sturdy harness, and for several weeks after, the neighbor avoided eye contact with me.

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