I am all for dogs interacting and meeting new people, dogs, and other animals. But I perfer a healthy and safe way for introducing new animals and people to the dogs.
(This happened this past Saturday. I started working on recounting it Saturday evening, but had to finish typing it up Monday morning)
We had let the dogs out for some extra outside crazy time so we could clean the dog room and get the extra poly-fill from the mostly-destroyed stuffies. Jamie was in the middle of moving one of the crates and I had to go outside to check on the dogs (it’s been rather warm so we needed to make sure that everyone was ok and had enough water) and Firefly went apeshit. She has a tendency to run up to the fence and bark at whomever is walking by and wag her tail. Most people ignore her (we do have one gentleman who cuts through our yard, he does have our permission, who stops to say hi to the dogs if they’re out and he’s walking by. he stops and waves, doesn’t try to pet them unless one of us is outside) But, all the dogs also have a tendency to bark at other dogs walking down the street and wag their tails. *
So, apparently, someone I do not recognize decided to walk their dog in our neighborhood. Awesome, love dog walking. It’s great for the human and it’s great for the dog. We try to do dog walking, either in our neighborhood or down at the Greenway (well, part of the greenway), on a fairly regular basis–which reminds me, I need to cut hot dog and work on training the beasts because training is a constant and it helps keeps the dogs from going nuts. Well, more nuts that usual.
Anywho. So the guy has walked past part of the yard; Firefly, Bug, and Izzy have jumped on the porch and barked their asses off while Hobbes has stood in the yard like a lump.** The dog and his man have gone around the house so Fly does the running flying leap off the porch so she can look through the cracks of the privacy fence. She shoves her head through the hole in the fence, looks, and pulls her head back. She runs to another part of the fence to grin, wag, and bark because, hey, it might be a new playmate and Fly loves her playtime.
Hobbes decided that he was going to shove his head through the hole in the fence (the hole in the fence is, thankfully, big enough for them to wiggle their heads through but not so large that they can actually get through it and thankfully they usually ignore this hole while outside. yes, this is terrible of us to have a small hole in our fence, which is maybe the size of a large coffee mug, but we have been working on replacing some of the warped boards and privacy fencing is damn expensive). He is just standing there, wagging his tail, and Bug has decided she is going to put her head through it too but she can’t because Hobbes’ big head is already through it. She was able to wiggle her muzzle through, and since they were there, Izzy had to get in on the action and tried to shove her head through.
I did not have shoes on (I am not walking through the yard without shoes on), so I whistled and spoke loudly, which got Izzy and Bug away for a moment. Then the guy with his dog decided that “oh look, other dogs!” and let his dog walk through the drainage ditch that is beside our fence and get right up in Hobbes’ face.
What? Are you kidding me?
I’m yelling at the dogs to get away, but I can’t go inside to get my shoes because I don’t know if my dogs are safe enough to peel my eyes away temporarily. I don’t know this man nor do I know his dog. I have never seen these two before in the neighborhood so my best assumption is he just recently adopted the dog and there is a possibility that this dog could be like Sebastien (a beautiful chocolate and white pittie boy, but he doesn’t care too much for other dogs and has great people skills) or the dog could be like Fly (wiggle-butt who believes everyone is her friend) or they could’ve just recently moved into the neighborhood.
Thankfully, Bug listens when we yell for her (even if she does come when we call for Fly because she’s a goofball) because Bug was starting to get agitated. Bug is our special-needs girl, she is wary of other dogs, which is why we are very careful with who she’s near. We’ve learned to watch very closely what’s going on to make sure she is not in situations where she is uncomfortable.
Throughout this whole time my head is coming up with different scenarios and what would be the nice way to get this guy and his dog to move because some people don’t appreciate “Hey, get your fucking dog away from the fence.” I can’t follow that with “my dog will eat yours” because they won’t and they are already part of a breed that has a terrible stigma. I can’t necessarily follow that up with “if my dog bites your dog, it’s your own fucking fault ya jackass.” because there is that possibility, and I really do not want to go to court and point out that this moron let his dog in my dog’s face on my property then cause-and-effect happened. It doesn’t matter what breed of dog it is, if one dog is not respecting the actions of another dog and continues to be all up in the second dog’s face, then the first dog will have something happen to it. Be it barking, lunging, snapping, biting, growling, anything. It’s part of that whole doggie-ettiquitte.
Yelling at the dogs caused them to come to me and ignore the other dog while the guy who’s letting his dog do whatever is wearing this big stupid grin (of the “awww, our dogs are meeting, isn’t that cute!” variety). The guy finally starts walking with his dog and takes his sweet ass time to get out from the ditch area (10 to 15, maybe 20, feet from where he was to where our driveway is) and I’m loudly proclaiming “for fuck’s sake, really dude?!” and Firefly has decided to run to where the chain-link starts and bark at the dog while they walk away.
No, I did not handle it as well as I should have. I should’ve yelled to Jamie to grab my shoes so I could shove them on and walk out into the grass. I should’ve yelled at the guy to move his dog.
I told Jamie what happened and he was like “why yell at our dogs? They’re in our yard. If his dog gets bitten, it’s all on him. They were on our property.” And I agree. It’s our yard, our dogs are properly contained in our fenced-in property, and they’re not doing anything wrong. They are all registered and vaccinated, there are signs that state “Private Property” (from previous owners who also had dogs), and it’s not our fault if the guy’s an idiot who doesn’t have a clue about dogs. And, one of the good things about Roanoke, if your dog is on your property and bites someone/something, depending on what goes on, your dog will not be put on the “dangerous dogs” list (yay for Roanoke doing case-by-case instead of BSL/BDL).
And lastly: I really hope that dog got that gross rot smell on his paws and tracked it all over their house. (some parts of the ditch have this nasty rot smell going on thanks to litter, lots of rain, and the fact that the City doesn’t know how to do maitenence on things like drainage ditches like they’re supposed to so the ditch overflows every time it rains.) It is a very gross smell. I had the unfortunate experience of getting it all over my boots from weedeating.
* – Our neighborhood has an array of dogs (boxers, chihuahuas, pitties, spitz dogs who look like giant versions of Poe (pomeranian), dobermans, husky, etc). For a while, we tried to make sure that the dogs were the most well-behaved while outside and playing in the neighborhood, but then gave up and basically said “fuck y’all” to the neighbors and if the dogs bark and it’s before 9 pm on weekdays, the neighbors can deal with it. The basic premise is: if you will let your dog bark its head off at 11 pm or 2 am on a weeknight and not attempt to quiet it (or tell it to hush), why should I tell my dogs to hush in the afternoon. The time that we feel this would have to change is if one of our immediate neighbors starts a 3rd shift and lets us know about it if dogs barking keeps them from sleep.
** – Hobbes does not bark. He has been with us for a little over a year and he has barked twice. Once when we signed the adoption papers and once…a few weeks ago. He does make other sounds. He huffs, he groans, he whines, he snorts, and he does make this high pitched are-you-sure-this-isn’t-a-tiny-dog excited sound when he sees new dogs. This is because he doesn’t fully understand the concept of “not all dogs want to play with you” and has a habit, that we are working through, where he makes this high-pitched sound and wiggles around because he wants to play with everything.