September 5, 2013

Dog adventures, chapter 1,000,000,000



Pav and I met another border collie today.  She’s been doing better*  but when I haven’t liked either her or an approaching dog’s body language . . . I’m picking her up.  In this case it looked like a perfectly harmless and inoffensive border collie, but when Darkness is feeling twitchy he tends to feel twitchy about dogs similar to the one or ones who have got in his face recently, and border collies are pretty memorable.  I know there’s some question about whether a dog sees colour, but nothing moves like a border collie except a border collie.  So I picked little Gatorface up.**  As we got close enough, and I could see the dog was on a lead—although this means less than you might think on a narrow path, which this was—I said, I’m sorry, we’ve been harassed by too many dogs lately, and Gatorface is feeling a little insecure.

They were by this time telling me how gorgeous she was—’Don’t these dogs usually come in white?  But the tricolour is spectacular’—and Pav was sucking up all the attention while the poor border collie was looking rather forlorn.  I put her down and she immediately recognised the border collie as her long-lost best friend, so that was all right.  Meanwhile, as I’m beginning to think chance-met responsible dog owners do automatically, we plunged into a conversation about other people’s dogs.  They were telling me that they had recently (but I’m glad to say not in this town) been surrounded by five off lead Rhodesian Ridgebacks and had their lives flash before their eyes.  The collie had gone abjectly submissive, bless her, and the mafia had let them live.

Diane in MN

The critters are worth it. The moron population, maybe not so much.

You think?

We drive four or five miles to a park to walk our dogs, because there are loose dogs in my neighborhood. The park is very open, so I can case it to see if there are any loose dogs there before we decide to stay. We don’t relax while we’re there; someone might show up and let their dog out off-lead.

Yes.  Which ruins your walk.  Tramping over the Hampshire countryside used to be one of my favourite activities.  We rarely do it any more because it’s not worth the constant, exhausting, sick-making worry.  I’ve said before that every time Darkness goes through another of these undesirably interactive incidents, over time, so long as it doesn’t happen again too soon, his reactivity level drops again.  But it never quite drops down to the level it was before.  This means that over the seven years he’s been alive, his base level of reactivity has risen and risen till now I have to assume the worst, and try to peer around corners and out of the back of my head to see peril coming in time to . . . try and turn around and run away.  I hate this.  I especially hate this because the hellhounds were such sunny sweethearts when they were puppies—for their first several years.  They loved everybody, and couldn’t believe it when someone was mean to them.  Darkness, the responsible one, twigged first.  But even Chaos is not the California surfer dude that he used to be.

Morons are everywhere. (And I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the OWNER, not the dog, that’s the problem when picking up the neighbor dog’s crap from my flower beds. SUPER morons.)

WHAT?  For pity’s sake there has to be some ‘negotiating the nuisance without bloodshed’ body in your local city council or equivalent when you know who’s to blame?  I’ve mostly solved the Third House dog crap problem by keeping the gate shut all the time.  The neighbourhood cat problem, now . . . I’m most of the way toward being a card-carrying cat hater.  Not quite.  But it’s a close thing.  And the amount of cat crap in Third House’s garden is a major contributing factor.

one of these hairy black Sherman tanks they’re breeding as Labradors these days came barrelling around a corner and nailed Darkness

Labs aren’t meant to do this! My Lab (decades ago; English lines) was the kindest dog in the world. This is depressing as well as infuriating. ::headdesk:: And poor Darkness, hope he wasn’t hurt.

Not physically;  this one was the standard all mouth and no trousers thug—which the bulldozer-sized Labs tend to be, not that you want to have to rely on this when one is coming toward you with the drool sliding off its fangs.  And the good old-fashioned working-dog Labs do still exist.  You meet them occasionally modestly trotting along at someone’s heels and it’s like, golly, what’s that?


. . . some of the locals who insist on loosing their out of control dogs are driving the horse riders (us included), other more responsible dog walkers, and pedestrians absolutely crazy around here. . . .  Some of these dogs are really dangerous too . . .  And like the police where you are, the ones here will do nothing either. A number of ladies from our stables have had to put up with nutter dogs and their swearing nutter owners just because they happened to be out for a quiet afternoon ride in the same area and asked the owner to hold their snarling, foaming, rabid looking beast …er.. I mean dog, while the horses passed by.

Yes.  All of that.  The ME is what really ended my riding career (again) but if there’s anything that scares me worse than facing a vicious dog it’s facing a vicious dog from horseback—and the moron population guarantees that this will happen occasionally.  Horses are prey animals and behave accordingly—and most vicious dogs are bullies and fear excites them.  You can train yourself to behave quietly—although the smell of the sweat of terror is doing you no favours—but barring the occasional strong-minded horse which has decided to take no nonsense from dogs, most horses tend to revert to atavistic instincts of running across the veldt away from the lion.  You can’t blame them.  But being on top of a thousand pounds of panic is not my idea of a good time.

And hands up how many people have a strong suspicion that the reason irresponsible owners get verbally abusive is because they know perfectly well they’re not in control and don’t want to demonstrate it to the world by failing to catch Fluffy when asked politely?


Is it possible to ask an authority in the church where people are ignoring the “No Off Lead Dogs” sign to enforce said signage? Even if it’s only to ask the dog owner to please leave the premise and not to return until the dog is, in fact, on a leash?

The short answer is no.  The local church is mostly empty unless there’s something actually going on, and most such goings-on are not conducive to running outdoors and accosting dog owners.  Whoever it was would also be unlikely to have any real this-world authority to insist on anything, and the problem with irresponsible morons is that they’re irresponsible morons.  HOWEVER I have thought of someone who volunteers at the church who is a force to be reckoned with . . . if I could get her on the case something would happen.  I imagine the answer is that she’s a trifle over-booked to save the world already.  But it won’t hurt to ask.

But then I’m rather pro-active where animals are concerned. If an off lead dog had followed me for as long as the collie did, I’d have taken the dog to the nearest pound/animal shelter and report it as a nuisance. For a less friendly dog, I’d call Animal Control. That way the owner would have to pay to get their dog out of hock. Where I grew up, ownerless dogs pestering people usually got shot because everyone’s dogs were working dogs first and pets dead last. Unless you lived in town. Then the police got called to deal with nuisance animals.

Well, in the best of possible worlds, all of that, sure.  However I had my arms full of almost-thirty-pound hellterror who, while she likes being carried and was being very good about it all, was clearly a little stressed by what was going on a few inches below her paws.  I am not going to grab a strange dog with my less-burdened arm and . . . and what?  The nearest animal shelter is something like twenty miles away.  And just by the way I am not thrilled at the prospect of containing this strange, unknown dog in either my house, my car or my garden till someone fetches it . . . which someone probably won’t, because while the web site looks all shiny and dutiful in practise dog wardens don’t answer their phones and don’t have the staff to do anything even if they did.  I went through quite a lot of this four, five, six years ago when the hellhounds were young and got pretty much nowhere, beyond a few cathartic conversations with people (including cops and dog wardens) as frustrated as I was.  And that was before the latest round(s) of government spending cuts.  We have something mind-boggling like a third fewer coppers than we did even a few years ago—and animal control has always been under-funded.


I came across a website FIDO – Fighting Irresponsible Dog Owners may have some useful advice although a lot of it relies on you gathering evidence and creating a fuss.


But that’s just it—it’s such entrenched standard behaviour there’s nowhere to begin.  And it’s not like my copious free time is . . . copious or free.  But I’ll have a chat with Angelica and see if she has any ideas.

* * *

* I swear I can see her waistline expanding from all that desensitising, and she eats her butter sandwich—southdowner swears this is an old show trainer’s trick, butter is good for their coats—so fast I’m sure she’s trying to make me think that I haven’t given her a butter sandwich, I must have been distracted or something, and I need to make her another one.  I rarely eat anything any more with tricky unpredictable gluten in it, so I just absent-mindedly give her a slice of whatever Peter is eating.  He bought a new sort of bread a few days ago a slice of which is TWICE the size of a slice of the previous loaf, but since I was in one of my little la-la-la spaces at the time^ I turned an entire slice into a butter sandwich.  It wasn’t till I was about to give it to her and realised that it was nearly as big as she was . . . She still frelling engulfed it in .00001 seconds.  Since then she’s had to lower expectations to half a slice.

^ Possibly thinking about Kes’ first night in her new home, which, trust me, is exciting.+

+ Mwa hahahahahahaha

** Pav gains another nickname.  The bull terrier’s unusual head shape from most angles looks like a blunt instrument to whack someone with, or possibly something to bang hot horseshoes on.  But a bull terrier tummy up, if you can tear your gaze away from the fabulous smile, there are two evil little beady eyes set close together at the top of the head.  Totally alligator.


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