I frequent a nearby neighborhood park with a friend to let our dogs run, play, chase balls and work off steam while their humans visit. This small park is rarely used, and usually we are the only ones there.
This morning, a man with a nasty, barking beagle ran around the perimeter of the park, with his leashed dog pulling and braying, probably desiring an invite to the doggie fest. The beagle’s owner started screaming at me that “this is not a dog park,” used a few choice profanities, and told us we had “30 seconds to get those dogs back on leash.”
Although he was not a park ranger or an individual with any kind of authority, I promptly leashed my dog, as he was so angry that I was frightened of what he might do next. I should also mention that this (very unfit) fellow “runs” past our home on a regular basis, and never picks up his Beagle’s poop when it relieves itself on our property or that of our neighbors. Never once have I confronted him about his bad dog poop manners.
I admit that my two friends and I were clearly in violation of the “dogs must be on leash” sign, but how much harm does that cause when no one else is using the park and the 3 dogs are all mild mannered and friendly? I guess I wonder why I am so easily intimidated by these self-appointed disciplinarians?
Why can’t I respond in the same manner as one of my park pals this morning, who just said “oh, it’s that jerk again–just wait until he leaves and the dogs can continue playing. ” I guess my question is, why are there so many severely pissed off people around, and why can’t I do a better job letting it all roll off me. Or should I be feeling extreme remorse and do penance for violation of the dog leash ordinance?
Raging in Royal Woodlands
I’m glad you wrote me with this question because it is one with which I have struggled for some time.
I am of two minds here: one of my minds is telling me that when faced with a situation like this I should let the guy have a piece of my mind (I can spare it because I have two, remember?) and the other mind is telling me to shut up, lay low and do nothing, because I don’t want to get shot.
Is the fear of getting shot unreasonable? These days, I’m honestly not sure.
I too am a frequent and flagrant violator of the leash laws in my city. My dog is gentle, playful and fast enough to escape the advances of an especially aggressive or amorous (or aggressively amorous) dog. One of the reasons I run/hike/walk/slog with my dog off-leash on the trails around my home is for my own personal safety and security. I’d carry pepper spray, but I don’t trust myself not to somehow spray it in my own face, or that of my pup or some other innocent.
If a Mad Rapist™ decides I am his target, I do not want him to be able to take control of the only protection I have: my 16- pound Labradoodle. She may be small with a sweet disposition, but she will happily rip out the throat of anyone who tries to hurt her family. If she is on a leash, he could easily tie her up and get on with his attacking business, as it were.
A couple of years ago, I had two very nasty interactions with a highly unpleasant man in my neighborhood. He had two Dobermans which were constantly straining at their leash in a hyper-aggressive manner, despite the fact that the leash was attached to one of those medieval-looking collars with the sharp points that dig into the dog’s neck AND they were each wearing a muzzle.
The first time I saw him, he began screaming at me because Margot bounded up to his psychopathic Nazi hounds and wanted to play with them. Her friendly approach naturally caused them to want to kill her, which made them strain at the leash even more. As I ran up to grab her and attach her leash, I apologized profusely. Here is how my apology was met:
“You stupid fucking bitch, who the fuck do you think you are? Get your dog on a leash NOW! Bitch! Fucking bitch!”
I swear to GOD (even though I am an atheist) I am not exaggerating and anyone who lives in the Westover Heights neighborhood in Portland who has interacted with this gentleman can back me up. Did I mention he is at least 75 years old?
Shocked, I scooped Margot up and ran away like a scared little girl. I hated myself for that. I stewed and brooded about it for days, kicking myself for not standing up to this contemptible asshole. I felt powerless, stupid and frightened of encountering him again. And of course, I did.
A few weeks later, I saw him coming from about 100 yards away. Margot began to run towards his dogs (short memory, that one), and despite my frantic efforts to call her back, she ignored me. Did I mention she was held back in obedience school?
As I once again scooped up my dog to avoid her becoming dog dog chow, the insults again started flying from this old man. Not only was I am “stupid fucking bitch,” mind you, but I was also now the C word. And by that I mean Cow.
Nobody calls me a cow.
My temper is rather famous in these parts, and it was in full flare mode. My fear of him disappeared, and my anger took control.
“What happened to you 90 years ago in your childhood that made you like this?” I asked him. “Were you molested? Did your mother hate you? Was your father abusive? Something must have gone wrong very early in your life for you to be such a hateful, spiteful, awful person. Tell me, because I really want to know!”
Before you start to marvel at my courageous behavior, you should know that I was shouting this over my shoulder as I ran away like a bitch. He didn’t answer my questions directly, but he indicated in words and gestures that my line of inquiry was inappropriate, and in response he was going to release his dogs.
Honey, you have never seen a middle-aged out of shape woman run as fast as I did at that moment. Seeing as how my ample ass is still intact, I can only assume he either chose not to unleash his dogs or that he did so, but they elected not to pursue me because that would be unkind.
Wow – once again I made this all about me. Sorry. My point is: I have done this thing both ways. I have stood up for myself, and I have not. Did I feel better shouting insulting questions at him as I fled into the woods?
You’re damn right I did.
Back to your asshole (I mean the guy in your neighborhood):
First, let’s address the dog shit disposal etiquette breach. I assume you know where he lives, so may I suggest the following: collect his dog’s droppings for several days in a large
bag of some sort. I guess paper, b
ecause global warming and the environment and all that. Once you have a nice big collection, write him a note and staple it to the bag. The note should say:
“Hello! This is your dog’s excrement, which you have kindly gifted to me on a daily basis for as long as I can remember. However, your gift is about as welcome as a herpes diagnosis, and like that disease, is irritating and never seems to go away. You are required by law to dispose of your pet’s waste (he will respond well to this since he is a big Follow The Rules Guy), not to mention the most basic of neighborly courtesies. Should you continue to gift me with your dog’s processed kibble, I will be forced to deliver it back to you, but not in as friendly a way as I am doing so now.
Your Entire Neighborhood”
Onto the leashing your pup in the park issue: if this guy wants to report you and it costs you a ticket for not leashing your dog, so be it. But don’t let this bossy jerk tell you what to do. Ignore him and do your best to pretend he isn’t there. See what happens. If he really gets in your face, you can mention in an offhand manner that you read somewhere recently that excess carbohydrates and fat are metabolized into angry fits of sputtering nonsense, and that perhaps he should look into vegetables.
So that’s my advice: stand up for yourself, don’t let him bully you into leashing your dog if you don’t want to, and give him some shit of your own. But it’s his shit, since it’s his dog, so I guess you are giving him a taste of his own crap, which is nice.
“WAIT!” Some of you are crying, “This advice is logically inconsistent! You advise her on how to handle his illegal behavior, while simultaneously advising her to break the law as it suits her. That doesn’t seem right! You are a hypocrite.”
Look, people: this is my advice blog. I get to say whatever I want. If you don’t like it, get off your ass and start your own advice blog. I guarantee it won’t be as good as mine.
I think most off-leash laws are bullshit, and the only people who are angered by dogs off leash at a park when they aren’t bothering anyone are either dog haters or just lousy people. I mean, come on. Who doesn’t want to see some cute doggies playing with each other?
PS: Please accept my apologies if you elect to take my advice on either or both matters and that leads to you geting shot. That was not my intent. Also, please refer to limitation of liability section in the “About Ask DesCamp” portion of the blog.