On Saturday morning, I took Cooper for a long, leisurely walk through our neighborhood, down along a local trail, and the looong way home. We were walking through an undeveloped section where empty lots are overgrown with two-foot-high weeds. When we moved here in 2008, these lots were supposed to become homes. After the housing market crashed, they’re piles of wood, debris, and scraggly, prickly weeds.
As we were walking around a block of these lots, I heard the familiar jingle of approaching dogs. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. Then the weeds rustled.
Through this bramble, two tiny dogs were bounding – as best they could – toward us. In this order I thought:
- Gosh. Those dogs are chubby.
- I don’t see a person.
- Uh oh.
- Keep walking? Stop and let them catch us in case they’re lost?
- What if they’re unfriendly?
- Thank goodness Lucas isn’t with me.
I debated whether or not to keep going. On the one hand, if they were unfriendly, I wouldn’t want to put Cooper in danger. On the other hand, if they were lost, I’d hate to leave them in danger.
They were huffing along, getting closer, when I heard a whistle. Both dogs stopped, turned their heads toward the direction they came from… then kept running toward us.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a guy walking toward the dogs. He whistled again.
I kept going.
Later, I wondered if I should have stopped. Should I have let the dogs come check us out – what they clearly wanted to do – to allow the guy time to catch them? I felt a little bad, but I just didn’t want anything to happen to Cooper.
The whole way home I kept thinking how lucky I was that it wasn’t Lucas I was walking. The scenario would have played out so differently. Despite working so, so hard with him, an off-leash dog approaching when he’s on leash is still a huge trigger.
Sunday evening, two boys from down the street opened a lemonade stand. I hadn’t walked Cooper yet, so I decided to take him over to the stand, let him socialize with a group of kids, and buy myself a lemonade ($1 for a lemonade plus free ice for dogs!).
I went out our garage into the alley. We walked to the end of the alley and turned left to cross a short block to get to the stand. Just as we turned the corner, a spaniel ran around the far corner straight at us.
There was no question the dog was friendly. He had a loose body, a happy wag, and his tongue was hanging out. He was also dragging a leash behind him.
He ran straight up to Cooper who froze and tucked his tail.
Then, from around the block, comes an intact standard poodle. Also dragging his leash.
Then a woman meanders around the corner with a tiny terrier on leash.
“Are these your dogs?” I said with as much huff as I could muster in my very flustered, very annoyed state.
“Ummhmm,” she said as she breezed past. The two dogs dragged their leashes a block ahead of her and she and the little one trotted off after them.
I wanted to scream, but there were children around. I didn’t scream.
But, again, if I had Lucas with me, that situation would have been a disaster. The first dog was around the corner so suddenly that I didn’t have a moment to move Cooper before the dog was on him sniffing away. I barely had time to react to the first dog before dog #2 came around the corner and waltzed right up to his face.
Poor Cooper’s tail was tucked so far it was touching his belly.
Lucas would have lost his mind and aggressed. And I’m sure the lady would have been pissed at me.
Both incidents left me frustrated and annoyed. Both incidents made me grateful that Lucas wasn’t with me, which is a horrible feeling.
I guess the takeaway is that I need to keep working with Lucas, and work even harder since there are lots of clueless dog walkers in our neighborhood.
Have you ever had an encounter like this on a dog walk? How did you handle it?