I am fit to be tied right now and after you read my rant, I’m sure you’ll get the dripping irony of that statement.
I came home tonight and took Minnie out for her evening walk. Spencer and I affectionately refer to her walk as her ’round’ because we do a nice tidy loop around our neighborhood which gives her a chance to stretch her legs, sniff out any new interesting smells and do her doggy business. (We actually have 3 levels of her round: short round, medium round and the long round. All that means is that we have 2 other established neighborhood routes that essentially widens the perimeter our walk with her so she doesn’t get bored with the same old sniffs going from Miami Street to Carpenter Ave to Nome Street and back to Miami Street.)
As I began our walk down Miami Street tonight, I saw another dog Max in the distance looking our way. I always think Max has surpassed what would be the equivalent to a cat’s purported nine lives because he’s still alive and kicking despite never being on a leash and his propensity for hanging out in the middle of the road clueless about the dangers of distracted drivers in speeding cars.
Carpenter Ave was quiet as we made our way towards him. Upon seeing Max just a little ways away, Minnie happily began wagging her tail and tugging at her leash. Max stood there with his head hanging low and distrustful of us, never making eye contact and tolerating Minnie coming up to his face for a little nose bump and a sniff of his rear end. Like all other nights, their dance had begun.
She immediately grew tired of his disinterest in her, turned from him and resumed her walk towards the edge of the road to sniff out a hefty lump of moist leaves. After all, who knew what olfactory treasures awaited her snoot beneath the leaves? Max followed closely behind, periodically lifting his leg for a short squirt here or there, and we continued on our walk.
I caught a glimpse of headlights and heard an approaching car coming up the road at a pretty fast pace. Since I always carry one of those big yellow flashlights, I pointed it in Max’s general vicinity to draw the driver’s attention that there was a dog near the side of the road. I didn’t want Max to get hit by the car. The driver noticed the light and began to slow down. However it was at this perfect moment that Max decided it would be a better idea to start walking into the middle of the street in front of the car. I called out to him to stop, but he kept on going so that he was standing right in the middle of the street blocking the car from moving forward without hitting him. He just stood there. I tried to mime movement with my flashlight in Max’s direction to get him to move off his spot, but it wasn’t doing any good and I gave up. I shrugged my shoulders and gave the driver a helpless ‘Oh, well I tried….” look. But to my surprise, the passenger of the car rolled down the window and shouted directly at me, “You know, there’s a leash law in this city!” just as the car began to push forward whether Max was going to move or not.
I instantly yelled back at her, “NOT MY DOG!” and raised my hand to demonstrate that my dog was, in fact, on a leash.
As the car sped up the street, she called out the window, “Sorry.”
And that was the point when I got pissed.
I am so sick and tired of people in and around our neighborhood holding Spencer and I somehow accountable for all the irresponsible things that other faceless dog owners do (or don’t do) with their dogs. Minnie is licensed, securely leashed on our walks and we fastidiously gather all of her poop. You will never see Spencer or I walking her without one of those stupid plastic bags. We’re mindful to not let her roam too deep onto a neighbor’s lawn while we’re walking her and we always have her in our control 100% percent of the time. No exceptions.
But apparently none of this matters. I think people see us walking Minnie so much that they just assume that if a pile of shit lands on their lawn, it’s from our dog. If a trash bag gets ripped open on Tuesday morning, it must be our dog. If a dog is standing stubbornly in the middle of a dark road at night blocking traffic, it must be our dog.
Let me tell you about a few past encounters with people I don’t know:
The guy who owns Max actually shouted at us from his kitchen window one Sunday morning because he saw Minnie squatting to pee on the edge of his property. “Can you not have your dog pissing on my lawn?” But here’s the funny thing about that gem of a neighbor. Apparently it’s OK for his dog Max to wander the neighborhood happily taking huge dumps on other people’s lawns and never being on a leash.
Minnie loves to do that doggy thing where she rolls over onto her back in the yard and delightfully squiggles away in every direction possible rubbing herself into mysterious smells on the ground. I actually had a neighbor come outside to scold me. “I don’t want your dog there. My kids play on this lawn.” I explained that Minnie wasn’t peeing and what she was doing was harmless, but it didn’t matter to him. “OK” I said and moved Minnie along while silently adding him to my growing list of assholes.
Just last week, Spencer was walking Minnie up one of the bigger hills in our neighborhood when he sensed a car was behind him so he quickly moved himself and Minnie tight to the side of the road so the car could pass by. But instead an old lady called out to him, from her car, that she didn’t want the dog in any way trespassing on her easement. Spencer just said ‘OK’ and continued on towards home. But let’s pause and think about this for a moment. This crazy old lady must have been in her house, saw Spencer walking past her driveway and decided to get into her car to drive around the corner just to warn him. Who does that?
These three examples are just the instances that stand out in my mind as I write this, but I know there have been more. I’d like to think that we get picked on by strangers because they consistently see us out walking Minnie and attribute any and all bad doggy behavior on us.
But tonight what I should have called out after the lady apologized was, “Yea? Well, the city has speed limits, too!”
And thanks to my trusty flashlight and healthy respect for city law, Max lives on untethered and free to crap on anybody’s lawn-except, of course, his own.