I love dogs. I love their smiles, their licks, the way they are so happy to see you, no matter what. I'm not just talking about my own little Ru-bear. I usually encounter three or more dogs on my morning commute to the bus stop. They are almost always leashed, and when they aren't, like my sweet Billy (a greyhound/horse mix), they're sweet as pie. Even the doberman without docked ears that barks at me over the fence most mornings on my way to work--I love him too. He looks so cute with his floppy ears.
Maybe I should have known something was up this morning when he was barking before I got to his gate. But I just thought he heard me or saw me or was barking at traffic. But then, across the street from him, I encountered a new experience. When the german shepherd came barrelling at me unattended and off-leash, barking his head off and looking for all the world like he was gonna get a tasty bite of me, my first thought wasn't of how much I loved him. Actually, my first thought was Where the f*ck is your owner? This dog had tags and a collar. He was sniffing around in someone's yard--I assumed he was their dog. I kept walking, ignoring him and his incessant barking. He followed me. My heart pounding, I kept on trucking. I thought when I crossed the busy street I have to cross to get to my bus stop, he would not follow me. I was wrong. He had the presence of mind to wait until the coast was mostly clear, but he just kept following me. When I got to the bus stop, I didn't want him to get any closer, so I had the brilliant idea of shouting "Go home!" at him. Eventually someone called him back across the street into their house. I'm tempted to have a conversation with them on my way home. I don't want to have to take a different route to my bus stop.
Here comes the rant: I HATE owners who don't control their dogs, as much as I HATE owners who don't pick up their dog's poop. First of all, they give the rest of us a bad reputation. They are the reasons most people hate dogs. I just don't understand owning a dog if you are going to accept that responsibility. Nothing says that you have to have a dog. It doesn't make you a better person unless you actually take responsibility for that dog. I shouldn't have to be afraid of a dog because he should never be allowed to scare me. It makes me so angry when people do stuff like that.
When I was a child we lived on a small farm out in the middle of nowhere. Well, kind of. We used to consistently get three or four dogs each year dumped out in front of our property and sometimes even a cat or two. Half were sick, sometimes they were fear-aggressive. One we had for a while until it bit my brother. We had a couple of other dogs that we kept, but mostly they went to the shelter or the vet to be put down. I have always had a healthy disgust for that kind of easy solution to a problem that you don't want to deal with. It is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and closing your eyes.
Currently my parents have a dog and a cat, the remains of an extensive menagerie of animals which have dwindled since our Noah's Ark farm days. This summer my father had the courage to finally put down the horses that my brother and I named when they were born. I was about eight, I think. They were old and arthritic and it was time, but it was a devastating blow for my father. He has only recently shown signs of recovering from that responsibility. Currently my folks have a new house that doesn't yet have a yard, and so the dog and cat are spending their nights in the garage, which has resulted in my parents being fairly house-bound. It is frustrating to me because they haven't been able to come up to Bumpalot for a weekend. But in light of my current run-in this morning, I am proud that they honor the commitment of pet ownership.