As a teacher I'm aware of the huge problem in Chicago where a lot of our students encounter violence, having to cross into hostile gang territory, just to make it to school each day. It has become an ongoing discussion topic in my classroom where students feel like they're walking through a gauntlet each time they leave their homes. Since we've been discussing it so much, I started thinking about how I have to walk a different kind of hostile gauntlet. Every time I take the pooches on a walk, we really have to be on guard as we're walking into many situations that could be dangerous for our dogs.
Living in the city, you really need to have your dogs much more socialized. Growing up, we would just let our dogs out in the backyard, and they really didn't encounter other dogs. In the city, where nobody really has a yard, we're all forced to take our dogs on daily walks. This means dogs will be coming face to face with other dogs on a daily basis, and you have to hope that the dog you're meeting is friendly, or at least being walked by a responsible dog owner.
It doesn't matter how friendly your dog is, some dogs just don't like each other. It's not really fair to put them in an uncomfortable situation where they might be scared or uncomfortable and lash out. The worst part is because we have pit bulls, if anything were to happen we would be to blame.
While we can deal with the on-leash dogs, it's the dogs on the retractable leashes, or even off-leash that are the big concern. When we first adopted Mr. B. we were taking him on a walk when a neighborhood Lab came running at him from nearly a block away. Miss M. was tense from excitement, and I was pulling her back, which I think Mr. B. read as us being in danger. As the dog came bounding up to him, Mr. B. stood up like a bear and started scuffling with the dog. Luckily nothing happened, but we know that if the other dog got hurt, we would have been blamed even though the other dog was off-leash charging our dogs.
It happened again the other day with a girl walking a Shitzu, on a retractable, and a Weimaraner. She dropped the Shitzu's leash and the dog came running full force at Mr. B, who was freaked out and tried to run away. Then as the girl was coming to get her dog, the Weimaraner lashed out and tried to bite Mr. B. Luckily nothing happened, but again, the dogs were put in an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.
We do our best to cross the street and stay out of the way, but on our morning walk the other day I counted 5 dogs walking off-leash.
Beyond the face-to-face meetings, dogs are faced with a myriad of obstacles. Every day there is a dog up in a balcony barking menacingly at our pooches:
Some owners leave their dogs unattended in the small fence area in front of their homes. They don't exercise their dogs, and just give that small area to run back and forth, so they become fence aggressive. They do keep a "Beware of Dog" sign up, but I've seen the gate left open on several occasions. The worst is this house which has a huge, fluffy white dog who is camouflaged in the snow and jumps up and freaks out the pooches. Here's Miss M. checking to see if he's there:Then there's the people who leave their dogs tied up to things and the dogs become territorial of the sidewalk. Besides being dangerous for other people, it's harmful for the dog because a lot of people steal dogs to either sell, use for fighting, or use for bait. Just look at this poor guy left to fend for himself:
And on top of that we have to watch for all the terrible city drivers and people zooming out of alleys. We've taught the dogs to wait and look before all alley entrances and streets:
We do our best to keep our dogs socialized, and I do carry Direct Stop to ward off danger. I just feel like there is an extra burden on us because we do have pit bulls. What types of things do you encounter on your walks?