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Monday, August 5, 2013

Another Day at Calahan Park

This morning I wished Karma Girl and her Shillelagh of Doom were real things and that they existed outside my imagination. Of course, it's not the first time I've had need for them, or they wouldn't exist. While I am capable of being more than a little..."prickly"...myself, I would rather not have to be. I would much prefer it if others would manage themselves then I could simply manage myself and then we could all just sing songs and tiptoe through the tulips in a state of blissful serenity. But alas, it is not to be. People, especially when it comes to their dogs, seem to be relentlessly obtuse and inconsiderate and it is an almost daily trial by fire for Murphy (and the many, many others who actually possess the mental acuity to comprehend and obey leash laws). Today was the WORST day in that regard that I can remember for quite some time.

I have had numerous encounters with the legally-challenged during my mornings at the park with Murph, some of them are even funny when I look back on them. For instance, one day we went and did our thing peacefully enough, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, we were accosted by an overweight boxer. Murphy doesn't appreciate a rude approach since he was attacked, but doesn't react 'bearishly'. Mostly he just tries to get away from the rude thing jumping on his head, but he does have a limit. My fuse is much shorter and I tend to do whatever I need to to keep loose dogs away from my dog. It's entirely not fair for Murphy to be forced to put up with these shenanigans! Finally the owner caught up with his dog and, predictably, had no vocal control over it whatsoever. I was getting really frustrated with his complete uselessness in managing his own dog, when out of nowhere a second overweight, out of control boxer joined the first in tormenting Murphy. In my mind, all went silent. Then the little dude who manages the switches in my brain unceremoniously switched on the "bitch switch" and control was no longer mine. I unloaded on this guy in a way that almost never happens, but I think it made a dent in his "leash laws don't apply to me" idea. Oh, I'm not proud of it. I'm perfectly capable of being "prickly" while being perfectly under control. In fact, under-control-pricklyness is far superior to white-hot-rage-pricklyness both in structure and effectiveness. But this jerk had not one, but TWO out of control dogs in a public park with a leash ordinance, AND they were actively harassing my dog AND HE WAS NOT FIXING THE PROBLEM. I grabbed each of his dogs and handed them to him myself so he could leash them up (they were still squirming and trying to get to Murphy...grrr...) And this upstanding citizen and responsible dog owner had the nerve to say to me "Looks like somebody should have stayed home today". Apparently, this dude knows absolutely nothing about women, or when it might be pertinent to shut the hell up. He had no idea how close he came to being on the receiving end of a throat-punch. It took every once of self control I had left to say: Yes, and since you're the one breaking the law, I'm assuming you are referring to yourself."  He left the park and I haven't seen him again. So THAT'S alright, anyway. Maybe I scared him. I certainly scared ME a little, hehe :-)

But while the encounters are rarely this bad, they remain frustratingly frequent. I do what I'm supposed to: I avoid dog parks, I follow the laws. I just want to exercise and play with my dog in peace. But some dog owners think all parks are dog parks. All dogs in public want to be accosted. How is this possible in this day in age?

Some of the weirdest things I've encountered are almost too rude to be true. For example, one day I was heading back to my car with Murph and saw a woman get out of her car (parked near mine). She glanced at Murphy and then she opened her car door to let her dog jump out. Of course it made a beeline for Murphy, who had moved behind me and started whining by this point. I walked toward it and bellowed "NO" as loudly as I could. I used to sing a bit so I'm pretty good at projecting my voice, but I always feel a bit of disdain when it sounds less melodious and more 'raging bull'. Oh well. It usually does the trick. It did the trick long enough for Murph to jump into my car. The woman was close enough for me to ask "What were you thinking?!" She replied that "My dog needs exercise and some manners so I thought your dog looked like a good playmate". I can't make this sh** up.

My other favorite person had to be a guy with a Rotti who walked around the park for a bit, then let his dog off-leash to wander about while he lay down and took a nap in the middle of the park. Unfortunately his chosen napping area was between me and my car and the Rottie's chosen wandering location was pretty much wherever the hell it wanted to go. I had to holler loudly enough to wake the guy up to grab his dog so I could go home. Seriously.

I've talked to the police about all the loose dogs (they like my dog and sometimes will come over and talk to me about Dobermans) and they are frustrated too. They issue tickets and people just keep doing it. In fact, the fines just doubled, and people are STILL repeat offenders. I keep Murphy on a long line so he is free to wander about and sniff, we play a bit of fetch, we wander a bit more but we comply with the laws. I actually had a police officer chuckle at me for using a line on a dog as well-trained as Murphy while untrained dogs are running loose all over the place. At the same time, the police appreciate my respect of the laws. It's good to feel validated. I feel validated by other dog owners too. As ridiculous as some of the dog owners can be, most of them are conscientious and are as frustrated as I am. I recently even saw a fellow with a young, obviously well-trained German Shepherd. This guy was walking around the park with his dog on a long line. Kudos to this young fellow! He smiled at me, I smiled back. it was a warm-fuzzy exchange of respect :-) Some have suggested we find a new spot, but there are no spots where this isn't occurring. I look forward to the day when we have our own yard (and I can put a big fence around it, and perhaps a moat), but we aren't there right now. I depend on public spaces, as do many others. Having consideration for other people is the only way that works.

Truthfully, despite all my bluster and blow, I have no problem at all with the loose dogs who are under control or actively engaged in a game with their person. My problems begin when my dog is being interfered with, and I think that's perfectly reasonable. I have ZERO tolerance for the folks who wander around in oblivion while their dogs do whatever, wherever. When I asked one of these people why they let their dogs run at others the response was "Well they have to greet". No, they don't. I'm not even sure where that idea comes from. Thankfully, most people know better!

This morning it was just a loose-dog onslaught. One guy had two dogs he let loose, then a woman arrived and let her dog go. Then a golden retriever dragging a guy behind him joined the melee the instant it was released. Somebody threw a ball and all hell broke loose. When all hell broke loose, the owners all stood around and watched placidly and didn't do a damned thing. That was all I needed to know, and Murph and I cut our play time short. Oh, no worries. He's just a service dog with a few minutes to himself to have fun and be a dog. What right does he have to enjoy himself unmolested? OF COURSE it's more important that you aren't inconvenienced by pesky little laws. Having to manage your animal in public is just so unfair.

Okay, enough snark for the day....


  1. Love you. Love Murph. Love the Shillelagh of Doom. I even love your local police who are at least trying to enforce the laws. What I don't love? People who have no concept of how their actions affect others. We do not live in a vacuum. Enough!

    p.s. if you find a good deal on moats, let me know.

    1. We love you too! I'm thinking I may need to dig my own moat. It might be therapeutic to forgo the backhoe and look at explosives as an option :-)