This is probably one of the saddest “Idiot of the Month” posts that I have had occasion to write. Dogs loose on roads, forced to run alongside bicycles or following jogging owners, dogs largely ignored by owners who nevertheless profess to “love” them etc etc. are par for the course.
This instance that I witnessed in the park is, however, a classic, all too common case, of a totally unsuitable owner at the top of the slippery slope to ruining a beautiful, already damaged dog and possibly getting hurt in the process.
I have known the owner to speak to for some time. When I first met her, she owned a small, nervous collie cross. The dog was elderly and not in the best of health but the owner was hysterically over-protective. She all but brought the dog’s bed out into the park I case she needed a rest, wouldn’t allow any other dog to so much look at her dog’s water bowl and did her best to keep other dogs away altogether, even though one of the remaining things that enabled her increasingly sickly dog to have some quality of life was her obvious enjoyment of interacting with other dogs.
Eventually, her dog died and, shortly afterwards, the owner re-appeared in the park with a stunning medium-sized adolescent collie cross bitch. The dog had been a street dog and was imported from Romania by a couple who soon decided that they were more interested in having children instead.
The dog is friendly with people and other dogs but has no training. In spite of this, she was allowed off the lead with the owner screaming hysterically and haring after her in an attempt to get her back as she bounded over to explore her new environment. My suggestion that basic training on a long line would be safer and that chasing an excited dog whilst screeching loudly is not the best method of recall was greeted with a stern admonition that the owner knows exactly what she is doing, thank you.
Finally the dog was restrained by a couple as she greeted their dog, at which point, the owner snatched her away, forced her rear-end down roughly and, face thrust in the dog’s face, started shouting at her. She also did not have the courtesy to thank the couple who’d caught her.
I opened my mouth to protest at the rough handling and then my blood ran cold. It was only a split second but, as clear as day, the dog turned hard-eyed, gave the merest suggestion of teeth being bared and made it abundantly clear that next time something similar happened, she would bite. Her muzzle was about a quarter of an inch away from the owner’s face and she was effectively in a head lock.
I tried to explain what had happened, but the owner would have none of it. “I’m not having her behave like that” was all that she said.
So, this poor dog has no training, is passed around like an unwanted parcel and re-homed with someone who expects her to “behave” automatically and then punishes her for not knowing how to. This owner may well end up with a very stressed and dangerous dog indeed.
Tragically, whatever happens to the human, this is not a story that tends to end well for the dog.