On this gorgeous day, with temps around 60, I decided to take Allie for a long walk. We both were having a good time -- me enjoying not having to avoid snowpiles and Allie checking out the new pee-mail --until we encountered an elderly gentleman and his dog.
Allie generally isn't thrilled with meeting other dogs when she's on leash. And even if she were, I'm hesitant to permit such encounters because unknown dogs, leashes and social mis-cues can lead to spontaneous canine combustion way too quickly. That's why, when we first saw the gentleman and his dog from across the street, Allie and I kept moving and I had treats at the ready. (A little vension jerky seems to keep my girl mellow -- or at least diverted -- when other dogs make the scene). We all moved on, and all seemed to be well.
But a little while later, we saw the pair again, and this time they made straight for us. The dog was barking and giving Allie the eye. Allie and I backed away, but Mr. Clueless either didn't understand or chose to ignore the signals we were attempting to send. He and the dog just kept right on coming. Finally I said, "Keep your dog away from my dog, please."
Mr C looked at me blankly and kept coming. I repeated my request in a louder voice. "Oh -- okay," he said. He looked a little puzzled, but he and the dog moved away from us. Allie and I walked a few more blocks; all the while I was inwardly composing yet another rant for this blog about idiotic dog owners.
And then we saw Mr. C and his dog a third time, again across the street. The dog resumed his staring behavior, so I started orienting Allie to me with more venison jerky. As I did so, Mr. C watched us with apparent interest. Then he spoke.
"Why are you afraid of my dog?" he asked. "He's friendly."
Huh. At least he's asking a question, I thought. "That may be," I said. "And I'm not afraid of your dog. But he *was* barking and staring at my dog, and my dog doesn't react well to such behavior. I just didn't want any trouble."
He nodded, slowly. I decided to push my luck, and added, "It's usually a good idea to ask the other person if they're okay with your dog approaching their dog."
He nodded again. "Okay," he said. "I didn't know that."
Will he act on his new knowledge in the future? I hope so.