I was walking home from training class last night, a balmy summer evening stroll of about 30 minutes which should have been pleasant after a fun evening preparing for our KCGC Gold test next month.
About half way though the walk, I turned down a side road and noticed two cyclists at the top of the road chatting by the kerbside. What I didn’t see until it launched into a frenzied attack, was the little black Cocker spaniel that shot out on an extendable lead and attempted to sink its teeth into my dog’s face. I backed off to a safe distance. The cyclists continued chatting, unconcerned while the dog danced around at the end of the lead, desperate to scare us away. I called and asked the owner to get his dog under control which he eventually did with a struggle, and carried on chatting, totally unconcerned about the state of his dog and, it goes without saying, with barely an acknowledgment to me, never mind an apology.
I suspect that this poor, unsocialised dog is regularly hauled along while the owner rides his bicycle, no doubt congratulating himself on how much “exercise” he is giving it and oblivious to the effects and consequences for the dog – or other road users for that matter.
Ten minutes later, virtually within sight of home, our path was blocked by two people walking very slowly and deep in conversation. I asked politely for them to let me pass; the man flicked a glance at me and carried on talking. I asked again. He flicked another glance at me. I asked a third time and this time was treated to a glare, but still they carried on. When a gap eventually appeared, I stormed past, pavement rage welling up and overflowing, only to come face to face with an elderly JRT, loose outside a shop. Luckily neither my dog nor the JRT batted an eyelid. Of course, this owner was also oblivious to his dog, presumably convinced that it was fine left alone by a busy road with no lead whilst he did his shopping.
One minute away from home – surely nothing else could happen? – but no. Our path was blocked again by two men straddling the pavement, also deep in conversation. (Had I missed momentous news that had everyone buzzing while we struggled with emergency stops and perfecting off lead heelwork?) Before I could draw breath, I realised that they were being preceded by a Newfie who casually wandered into the road and proceeded to walk down the middle of the left hand lane. Perhaps they did not realise that dogs are red/green colour blind so it had no hope of interpreting the traffic lights as it headed towards the junction with the A road. They only retrieved it when they saw us coming, no doubt assuming that my on-lead dog was a canine pest that might threaten their bear-sized charge.
Not only are these owners a menace to other people and dogs, they are causing their pets untold distress and putting them in the way of causing real harm to themsleves and other people.
Until we start putting serious resources into addressing these issues and many others, a simple, half hour walk will continue to necessitate the utmost vigilence.