Standard rant, with knobs on
Rant rant rant rant rant rant rant.
I almost never take the hellhounds along the river any more—which used to be pretty much our favourite town walk—because we’ve been jumped too flaming-damnation many times by too many irresponsible idiots’ too many bloody-minded off-lead dogs. I can’t remember if I told you that this happened again recently, in this case when hellhounds were out with Mavis. She had taken them along the river because it was hot and there’s shade there*. She has previously been inclined to think I’m a little hyper on the subject of off lead dogs but I’ve noticed her worry level is rising recently after encounters (mostly not in the company of any members of my hellgang I’m happy to say) with a few of the four-legged travelling horror shows that make my life a paranoia fest. In this particular case one of these hairy black Sherman tanks they’re breeding as Labradors these days came barrelling around a corner and nailed Darkness, who is not only the more reactive of the two hellhounds but must have the body language that demonstrates it because he’s also the more likely to be targeted. The people responsible, or rather not responsible, for the dog wrung their hands and twittered and babbled that it wasn’t their dog.
VERY VERY VERY BAD LANGUAGE HERE. They’re walking a dog that isn’t even theirs—they had a kiddie in a pushchair with them as well—on a narrow crowded riverside path on a hot day . . . AND THEY LET THE DAMNED THING OFF LEAD to molest the passers-by.** These particular morons apologised, for what that is worth, ie nothing, but they didn’t put the thing on lead, they just grabbed it by the collar and said that its owner had said it was fine and that they had no idea. Presumably as soon as Mavis was out of sight they let it go again. . . .
We seem to have dodged that bullet—Darkness has been a little more reactive to other dogs lately, but nothing like what he can be when he’s been really freaked out. And I’ve asked Mavis not to walk along the river with the hellhounds for now. Meanwhile we’re having another heat wave this week. It’s not a hugely seriously one—in September*** it’s not likely to have, um, teeth—but it’s certainly hot enough mid-afternoon when Mavis is walking my lot that it would be nice to walk along the river with hellhounds, who feel the heat badly. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
And now, Pav. I’m already supposed to be desensitizing her to other dogs—which effectively means turning aside as soon as there’s another dog in view and giving her a few treat-level kibble or bits of cheese both to take her mind off the other dog’s potential threat and to make her think that other dogs are GOOD because they produce FOOD. I am wasting my f******* time. It’s not the on lead dogs that it’s possible to turn aside from that are the problem: it’s the sodding off lead dogs, which are why Pav is becoming reactive in the first place, that are the problem and about which THE ONLY THING I CAN DO IS PICK HER UP. The only reason I can cope with having a bull terrier—that is with the whole Dangerous Dog mythology that surrounds them: if some off lead thug sticks its nose in her (on lead) face and gets bitten, she’ll be the vicious one because she’s a bull terrier—is because she’s a mini and I can PICK HER UP. THAT’S MY ONLY REAL OPTION.
WE WERE FOLLOWED ABOUT TWO THIRDS OF THE LENGTH OF THE RIVER PATH TODAY BY SOME SODDING OFF LEAD BORDER COLLIE. I NEVER SAW ANY SIGN OF AN OWNER.
Pav was reasonably cool about this—she likes being carried—but she has to have been aware of the damned thing clinging to my side and bumping its cold wet nose against my bare leg†. And was probably aware of my rising blood pressure. Also, of course, she’s supposed to be running around and being stimulated and getting her exercise. I do not need the additional exercise of carrying a pushing-thirty-pound mini bull terrier.†† When our unwelcome companion finally peeled off and I put her down . . . a few minutes later she reacted to an old floppy friendly harmless Golden that we’ve met many times and she’s always gone up to before with her tail wagging.
I was still completely blistered by all of this when we met up with one of Peter’s neighbours who wanted to say hello (to Pav, I mean) and who made the mistake of asking me if I was walking all three of them together yet. WELL IT’S A GOOD THING I HADN’T BEEN TRYING TO DO THAT A FEW MINUTES AGO ON THE RIVER PATH. So I ranted and raved to her for a while and then seamlessly segued into my other major other-people’s-dogs rant/rave about unpicked-up dog crap. There were like twelve piles of dog crap on the river walk today. TWELVE. Maybe more. I was both overly aware of dog issues with a strange dog glued to my leg and also a trifle distracted by said strange dog. And Peter’s neighbour said that she occasionally walked the elderly dog of a friend who, when she first asked where she should take him, was told, oh, I go up to the churchyard. You can just let him off lead there.
Sandra, to her credit, had been horrified by this and said, oh, but you can’t, there are even signs telling you not to.††† The friend said airily, Oh, it doesn’t matter.
It does matter. It does freaking well bloody matter. And, just by the way, I stepped in someone else’s dog crap this morning, getting the hellhounds off the path through the churchyard and out of the way of a little old lady on a mobility cart who glared at us as she went by: her grandson or nephew or something probably spends Sunday afternoons cleaning the dog crap out of her tyres.
There are days when I really, sincerely wonder if having critters is worth it.
* * *
* And nice cool water, but hellhounds spurn such vulgar pastimes as paddling in the common flood. Hellhounds are such odd—er, ducks—that I’m not all that surprised; more surprising is that Pav isn’t much interested. She’ll just about put her forepaws in the water and then she stands there: can we go now?
** Have I mentioned recently that the police don’t give a flying fart about sociopathic dogs?
*** I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S SEPTEMBER ALREADY
† Yes, I’m in shorts. Despite the prevalence of off lead dogs of uncertain motives.
†† Even if she does help by putting her back feet in my pockets.
††† There sure are. Lots of them.
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