I have come to the realization that I may be slightly, and by slightly I mean incredibly, over-anxious when it comes to my animals. As such, I can be pretty judgmental when it comes to the behavior of other pet owners. I try to stay as open-minded as possible when it comes to other people’s behavior when it has no bearing on me personally, but this is one area that I just can’t, or rather, won’t.
Last night, we were walking our dog, Lola, and my brother’s dog, Oxford, who we are dog-sitting. There is a small office complex across the street with big swaths of grass that the pups love to explore. After they had their fill of playing fetch (Oxford, that is. Lola looks at you like you are ridiculous if you try to get her to fetch something), and the old “sniff and pee on everything” (THAT is how Lola rolls), we headed home. As we were nearing the street, we saw another little dog running around the edge of the complex. I will always, ALWAYS, attempt to get loose dogs to come to me, as long as I can do it safely for myself and my dogs, in order to find their owners and prevent them from being hit by cars. This means I come home with random dogs pretty regularly, but better that than a dead dog in the street. I start crying when I see roadkill (unless it’s a possum. Fuck possums.), so I don’t even want to imagine how I would feel if I let a loose dog roam free only to see it dead in the road later on.
The little dog was mildly cautious, but came over to us because he wanted to sniff our our dogs. Once he was close enough that we could get a hold on his harness – which he was wearing but it had no ID tag on it, which is infuriating – I ran the other two dogs home so I could return with a leash for him. By the time I got back, Jon had followed him to the door of a beauty salon in the complex. He seemed to know the place, so I went inside to see if they were missing a dog. The stylist, who was blowing a client’s hair dry, replied that yes, she was. She followed me out, then gave us more of the story. She lets the dog out regularly, unsupervised, so he can use the restroom. She goes back inside, where there are no windows to see out to where the dog has been loosed, and, allegedly, he comes and knocks at the door when he is done. Perhaps this is actually true; I can’t be sure. When we saw him, he was nearing the street that people typically drive about 35-45 MPH down in the middle of the parking lot of the plaza. So she wasn’t actually “missing” a dog in the traditional sense; she lets him roam free near busy streets and hopes for the best. Jon quickly ended the conversation and steered me towards home since he could see the rage blackout setting in. Once that happens, I can no longer be held responsible for tearing people new assholes with some choice words.
I get that not all people treat their animals like precious little puffballs of love and affection that must be shielded from anything that may hurt them because they are, while adorable, kinda dumb when left to their own devices. I mean, come on, Lola doesn’t know the difference between me being gone for five minutes or five days. She is beyond excited to see me every time I return from outside, deliriously happy because she was pretty sure I was never coming back. I also get that country dogs are a whole different breed, roaming the fields day and night with no problems. However, allowing a dog to roam around a office complex unleashed and unsupervised is inexcusable, particularly without any identification. I would not only be terrified of the dog being hit by a car, but also of being stolen or getting into a fight with another dog. People in our old neighborhood used to let their dogs roam free all the time, making navigating the neighborhood resemble a game of Frogger. It enrages me because if I hit a dog due to their owner’s utter fucking negligence, I would feel terrible for the rest of my life.
I know I am preaching to the choir here. It is clear how much we all adore and cherish our little nuggets. I just hate that so many people view their animals as nothing more than something inconsequential and disposable. I joke with Jon that Lola and I have a murder/suicide pact; when she goes, I go. I don’t remember what my life was like before her, and I can’t imagine my life without her.
How do you all deal with irresponsible pet owners? Do you confront them? Give them a piece of your mind? I am really tempted to go have a tag made for the dog with the name and number of the salon and take it over there and say “If you are going to let your dog run free, you should at least have a way for people to contact you if they find her dead in the street.” Too much?