There’s a war going on at my local park. It’s not the kind of war that’s fought with tanks and machine guns. Nope, it’s a war between the owners of dogs and everybody else at the park. Many of the dog owners are constantly breaking the law and letting their dogs run around without leashes. And when they do have leashes, it often seems like they’re unable to control the dog on the other end.
For example, a couple of months ago my seven-year-old, “O,” had a sports practice at our neighborhood park. We also happen to be babysitting my friend’s dog, Jelly, a half Chihuahua/half wiener dog, so of course she came to the park with us as well. We had Jelly on a short leash and made sure she walked alongside us.
We went through the park gates and then headed along the running track toward a sports field in the back. A woman in a hot pink tracksuit was coming toward us and she was struggling to control a gigantic dog that looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a pit bull. We moved to the side to give them a wide berth. Unfortunately, she had one of those leashes that extends and the dog came barreling toward us.
My son, O, is afraid of big dogs, so of course he started screaming and my husband quickly tried to shoo this huge dog away. The dog wasn’t going for my son though. It was going for the dog we’re babysitting, Jelly. And I was holding Jelly’s leash.
I’m pretty afraid of big dogs too since I was chased by a pack of wild dogs back when I lived in China. I’ve just never gotten over it. And incidents like this don’t help.
I picked up Jelly and this other dog began growling and baring its teeth at me. I remember loudly saying, “You need to control your dog,” and the woman in the pink tracksuit laughed and said to her dog, “Honey, come over here!”
Just when I thought this dog was going to bite me or Jelly, my husband grabbed its leash and started pulling it away from us. I just kept my eyes on the dog’s owner and repeated over and over again, “You need to control your dog.”
What did she do? She said, “Gosh, he was just trying to sniff you. You need to calm down!”
Calm down? She couldn’t control her dog; it was behaving in a threatening manner to me and my children, my husband had to restrain it—and instead of apologizing, she rationalized what happened and acted like it was no big deal.
My husband grabbed my arm and said, “Just walk away.”
I ended up having to run on park trail for an hour after that because I was talking smack about how she better not bring her pink tracksuit behind back to the park ever again! Even after running for an hour, I was still pretty steamed over the whole situation.
It just seemed so selfish to have a gigantic, uncontrollable dog in such a public place. After all, there’s an actual dog park a few blocks away. It seems like it would make more sense for her, and all the other dog owners, to take their dogs there. Instead, there’s always someone at the park who’s letting their dog roam around without a leash, and inevitably, somebody ends up upset about it.
I don’t foresee an end to this battle over the presence of dogs in the park until owners wise up and learn to control their pets. So if you’re an owner, I beg you, please curb your dog!