I like dogs.
It’s rude, inconsiderate, and clueless dog owners I don’t like.
This is not about owners that let their dogs run wild in parks, allow them to deposit their breakfast in my yard and leave it during an afternoon walk, or even the abusers who teach dogs like pit bulls to be aggressive and then let them roam the neighborhood by not securing their yards.
This is about people who think it is OK to let their dogs run free in and around stores.
The latest incident was when I was walking up to the door of a convenience store last week. As I approached a 20-something female opened the door from the inside and called out “Chelsea!”
All of a sudden I heard scampering paws behind me and a low level growl.
I looked down and there was a small mutt lunging at my ankles.
Yes, I uttered an expletive using the lord’s name in vain and ended the comment with the word “it” as I stopped and pushed my heel backwards.
This prompted the 20-something to say “you didn’t have to do that” as her beloved Chelsea scampered into the store.
Yes, lady, I did.
I’ve been bitten four times by dogs, all in public places. The worst was by a Chihuahua that bit me on my ankle as I was jogging down Nehemiah Drive. The dog’s owner moments before opened the door for her precious dog to go to the bathroom and it made a beeline for my feet.
After it bit me, I kicked it away with my other foot prompting the woman to yell at me — you guessed it — “you didn’t have to do that.”
Yes, lady, I did. I’m not about to let your precious little “harmless” dog bite me again. I should have told her to check out her homeowner’s policy to see what it says about dog bites or perhaps look up the municipal ordinance about having dogs off leash in your unfenced and unsecured front yard.
I appreciate that many people view dogs as part of their family. Most people that do, however, wouldn’t let their kids run down strangers and hit them nor would they allow them to pull down their pants and take a dump in a stranger’s yard and then leave it there while they are out for a walk. They’d be horrified.
I’m ambivalent any more when people carry small dogs or puppies into stores but I draw the line at restaurants or supermarkets unless they are service dogs for those with physical issues such as lack of sight.
Large dogs are another issue. I have a fairly good sized Dalmatian so I’m used to being around larger dogs. It also goes without saying I’m not petrified of dogs. If I were, I wouldn’t have one.
A few years back I was in a home improvement store when a couple with a well-behaved German shepherd on a leash passed by me. I didn’t think anything of it until a nearby woman started to shake.
The couple assured the woman that the dog wouldn’t hurt her as they continued on their way. Meanwhile the woman they left behind was borderline hyperventilating. It turns out after a few people, besides me, checked to make sure she was OK that she had been attracted by a dog as a child. The store has a policy against dogs unless they are service dogs. The couple with the German shepherd had slipped by store staff.
I’m sure the couple meant no harm but that’s not the point. There’s a reason dogs aren’t allowed in certain places and why cities have laws about when dogs have to be on leashes.
I’ll admit I haven’t cut dog owners much slack since 1990 when a small dog almost killed me when it bolted out of its front yard and into the path of my bicycle as I was descending downhill at 45 mph. I ended up on a backboard with knee damage. Weeks later, I was told the dog’s owner had wanted to sue me because the dog that apparently was in fairly high demand for breeding had its pelvic bone broken when I struck him. His insurance company told him he was lucky I wasn’t suing.
My ambulance, emergency room bills, and racing bicycle damage — $7,900 — was covered by the dog’s homeowners insurance. The damage to his dog he let run lose in violation of Placer County laws wasn’t.
The dog probably had chased me coming down that road perhaps three dozen or so times without getting even close. He managed to “get me” because there was a bicyclist ahead of me that had gotten his attention and had brought him out to the road.
A dog may indeed not do damage to anyone else off leash until the day it does.
Do not get me wrong. I’ve been around dogs off leash on trails at 10,000 feet, around working cattle dogs, police dogs, and countless others whose owners invested the time to train them and who have them under control.
People who obtain dogs and then do little to train or socialize them are not doing the dog or themselves any favors.
The 20 something last week ended up scooping up Chelsea after she got inside the convenience store. A couple of folks fawned over how cute the dog was. That’s fine.
But there’s nothing cute about a dog not well trained and being off leash in places they shouldn’t be with an owner that is both clueless and inconsiderate.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.