Thursday, April 22, 2010

Miles apart

Every time Allie and I go to Dunn Loring Park, we see her: a young, energetic Golden Retriever who's all alone in her yard. Her name is Sophie, and when I see her, my heart goes out to her. She's not physically mistreated -- she's just always out there, all by herself. Usually she starts barking wildly and dashing madly around the yard when she sees us passing by her house. When she does, her owner -- an older gentleman -- comes out to tell her to shush. Then he goes back inside, without her. I've never seen him bring her inside.

Why does he have a dog if he doesn't want her companionship? If she's too rowdy, why doesn't he play with her and train her (or hire someone to do it)? If he can't be bothered, why doesn't he find her a home where someone can and wants to be bothered?

I feel the same way when I see people walking their dogs up the street with the leash in one hand and cell phone in the other. They're yakking away to God-knows-who while their dog walks on ahead with nary a backward glance. The person and dog are walking together--but, in a sense, they're miles apart. Neither really enjoys the companionship of the other. And if they don't have that companionship, what's the point of it all?

Today, when Allie and I passed by Sophie's house, she engaged in her usual manic barking and racing. But there was a difference today: she came back to her fence with a tennis ball in her mouth, and emitting what sounded to me like play growls. Meanwhile, Allie--who'd just had a bracing fetch session with me in the park--was walking serenely beside me, carrying her prized Orbee ball. I gave her ears a little scritch and thought, you're a lucky dog, Allie.

Too many dogs are relegated to the back yard or are ignored during their walks with their people. Either way, it's a lonely life for all concerned--but it's a particularly sad fate for an animal that's hard-wired to not just be social, but to bond with people.

13 comments:

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell said...

That just breaks my heart, Susan. Poor Sophie. Don't people understand that dogs are pack animals and have to be with a pack -either canine or human? I've often wondered that myself about people having "outside dogs." Why even have one.

Susan said...

Exactly, Kerri!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Oddly enough, there is a border collie in our neighborhood named Sophie with a similar lifestyle, except she spends the bulk of her days in a chain-link dog pen (maybe 10 x 10).

Sometimes when I drive by she is hopping around and barking at the dogs next door or something she sees, but many times she's just laying quietly in her pen.

I know she gets to go inside the house, and I know she does get some attention and time loose, but her owner is a veterinarian, and I CANNOT tell you how many times people have asked *me* how a dog doc could pen up any dog (but especially a border collie) like that.

Susan said...

I don't understand that, either.

~Kim~ said...

I totally agree with you Susan!! When we lived in a subdivision, someone filed a complaint to the HOA because we were "too loud" playing with our dogs in the common area. I think it was because Rudi was barking too much--But we found out later the person who complained was an owner like Sophie's...I'll never understand people and I wish I could "dog-nap" their pups! ;-)

Allie Johnson said...

Yes - I can't tell you how many times I ask myself the same question.
In my neighborhood, there are a number of dogs living like this, and we walk past them every day on our walks with our dogs.
I just don't get it, and I feel very sorry for the dogs.

Susan said...

@Kim: How's Rudi doing? @Allie: it's so hard to see such dogs, isn't it?

Susan Sarubin said...

We have a second home by the Chesapeake Bay in MD...very rural. It is quite common for dogs to be chained outside in the yard with only a ramshackle dog house for shelter. They are all reactive. It breaks my heart when I go out running with my dogs..I often alter my routes to avoid seeing them. :~(

Susan said...

Oh God, Susan, seeing those dogs on a run would be awful. I don't blame you for changing your route.

nancy johnson said...

That brought a tear to my eye. Poor Sophie.

Susan said...

Yeah, it's pretty sad. Dogs are social beings, and it's appalling when the humans they depend upon don't see that.

Shauna (Fido & Wino) said...

I was reading a blog and one of the commenters said "I don't have to worry about walking my 2 dogs because we have a backyard they can wander around in..."

Confuses the hell out of me. Why do they think their dog is barking? HE'S BORED. They would probably bark their heads off too if they were bored out of their wits!

Susan said...

It's probably not as bad with two dogs because they can at least keep each other company. I just hope their people watch where they step ;-)