Right. To start off this series I’m gonna start with one of the more recent stories that happened to me. But, let me introduce to you the Unhappy Dog Walker series. I own a belgian malinois shephard, a breed known as the ultimate dogs (google it if you don’t believe me). They are hard working, extremely loyal and smart, high driven dogs that need to work, train and lots of movement. Yes, bad idea for beginner dog owner.
In this series you will experience me rant a bit, but please, do realize that I don’t have any issues with other dogs, I really don’t. I have an issue with dog owners that don’t realize a few things, such as: not every dog is pet-friendly or dog-friendly. Second thing people don’t realize is that at public places that are not designated for off-leash dogs, you have your dogs on leash, no questions asked. My reasoning behind this is that your dog is still a dog, an animal, and although it may be the sweetest dog in the whole universe, it can be provoked or taken off guard by smell, voice, sounds etc. And you cannot garuantee it’s reaction. I have heard stories about the sweetests of dogs turned aggressive because of some smell or a voice and those dogs had zero history of aggression or anything else. And, another thing is that people (of all ages) can and are afraid of dogs and are scared of being hurt by them. Yet, dog owners behave like we own the planet and we can do anything we want instead of just being respectful and using our common sense (yes, the series was almost called common sense is no longer common, you’ll read on why). But let’s get to the story.
It was another day in the dog owner’s life and I had to go for an evening walk during a weekend. I chose to go to a place that I know will be quite busy with people, because it’s near a river, dogs can swim there, sports fans can use the bike road and skate or bike there, dog owners have quite few options where to walk their dogs, there’s a parking lot, lots of trees and tunnels made of trees. Really nice looking, I mean, you can be the judge:
This is how a part of the place looks during the fall. Next to this alley, there’s a pavement on top of an elevated area and next to is grass. Sadly, I don’t have a good enough picture of that area, so try to use your imagination. I have arrived there and started walking the dog on the grass part. On that grass part, you can see for kilometers away, there are no trees obstructing your view. That’s why I like it, because my dog is not pet-friendly. So I like to see around us so I can react and do my best to avoid any bad situation that may happen. As I was walking, I saw two people sitting on the grass and two dogs off-leash running around them. I was still quite far away, but I was starting to get cautious, mainly because of all of my previous experiences (they will be published here, some of them are funny, some of them will make you shake your head in disbelief).
As I was coming closer I realized that the owners had no intention of putting their dogs on leash, so I went down the elevated area, but in order to do this, I had to cross the pavement where usually a lot of cyclists and skaters are passing by. I stopped, looked left and right and saw a woman on roller blades incoming. I let her pass by and I went down. I managed to go down and that’s when I heard a scream and two seconds later so the woman on roller blades near my feet and heard two dogs running down the hill towards me. My dog was already startled by the fall of the woman. My dog is not aggressive in the sense that if she sees a dog she will attack. She will ignore them or look at them, with no other action, but once the dog is trying to sniff her or come close to us, the dog owners and handlers, she will bark and eventually bite.
The two dogs that caused the fall of the woman got too close to my dog (started sniffing her and one tried to mount her) and my dog defended herself and me by weakly biting one of the dogs. I yelled at the dog owner, who didn’t even see us, because they refused to stand up and check what’s happening (despite hearing the barks, screams etc.). After good ten seconds the dogs left towards their owner. I checked the lady whether she’s alright and whether she doesn’t require medical help. She said that she is fine, so I checked my dog for any visible wounds or anything in case I would miss her getting bitten by one of the dogs. I couldn’t see anything. As a polite and respectful dog owner, I ordered my dog to stay down in a lying position (with her still being on a leash) and I went a bit up the hill so I could see the other dog owner. I asked whether the dogs are alright and in case the bite wounds was serious I offered to give him my contact information and proof of the rabbies vaccination my dog is required to have every year. He didn’t answer my question, but he proceeded to start yelling at me how my dog is aggressive, how she startled their dogs, how she is dangerous (based on her looks). I’m not going to deny that she does look dangerous and a bit scary. But I won’t stand a liar that cannot admit their own fault of not respecting the law. But hey, have a look at my dog!
I started talking back to him and called him out on his bullshit to the point where he said: “I’m gonna call the police”, to which I replied: “Ya know what, go ahead”. I knew that I’m innocent in this one and in the worst case scenario I will get a warning or something. Just to remind, my dog was at all times on the leash. She has a terrible recall, so I don’t let her off leash (if you want to come at me for her not having enough of freedom to run around, she does have a huge garden and we do use 16 meter long leash as well). After 5 minutes, the cops arrived. And get ready for this, the most funny part is incoming.
The police officers asked me and them for ID, they scanned the dogs for chips and asked for proof of rabbies vaccinations. We both obeyed and it turns out, one of their dogs was not vaccinated for a few years, which is a law violation in my country. After that, the cops asked what happened and listened to both of our versions and then asked the lady on roller blades what she saw. Naturally, she confirmed my version, while the other dog owners tried to get out of it by lying and making stuff up. This was good 10 minutes and there was already a good group of people forming that were listening to us and very curious (it could be around 30 people at that time). The cops asked some more questions regarding dogs and whatnots and then they said this:
“Mister XY, are you aware of the fact that this is a road dedicated to bikers? And of the fact that the movement of off-leash dogs is prohibited at such place?” (We were about 5 meters away from the road) Naturally, the man said yes, he is aware of the bike road, but not of the second thing, that he cannot have his dogs off-leash. That’s when I started smiling, because I knew what was going to happen.
“Alright, are you aware of the fact that dogs running away from you out of your eyesight can be interpreted as a dog attack?” Once again, he answered yes, but tried to explain, one more time, how my dog is dangerous. My dog during all of this was happening was sitting down next to my leg and she was licking her paw that was injured from way before.
“Right, mister. That will be a fine today of 200€, because you have endangered two lives, one of your dogs is not vaccinated and you had both of them off leash when you shouldn’t have.” At this point, when he received the fine, there was about 50 people smiling and silently laughing at the guy. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed too. Because instead of saying simple “I’m sorry, is your dog and the lady okay?” he went out of his way to frame me and blame me for his dogs running away from him and making a woman fall down while she was rollerblading on a path dedicated to biking and rollerblading.
After that I thanked the police officers and they asked me some questions regarding the dog and the breed etc, because this breed (belgian malinois) is commonly used in forces. After that they left and I headed home too.
If you are guilty and you have a witness, don’t call cops. It might get turned against you. And, if you are a dog owner and you see another dog with his human coming, put your dog on a leash for the moment or hold them by their collar. Please. Have some more common sense. Just out of respect, you have no idea what is their story and be a bit selfish and think about the health of your dog too. You would hate to see it get wounded or killed if it could be prevented. Let’s be more kind to each other, after all, we all love dogs.