Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pooches: The Dog Universe of Obligation

Chicago is a big city, but having dogs makes it feel a lot smaller. Not only have the pooches helped us meet most of the neighbors on our block, but I feel I am part of a larger dog-community.In this way, my school life and personal lives have seemed to merge. In my classroom, we are constantly discussing the level to which we are obligated to help other people in our communities, and how important it is to share information with others in our larger community. In many ways I feel an obligation to help fellow dog owners.
When I first adopted Miss M I really didn't know anything about having my own dog, or working with pitbulls. I made a lot of mistakes. And I'm still learning a lot of things through other blogs and comments on our blog. Knowing many people may have been like me, I feel obligated to help out when I can.
For example, there have been a rash of dog thefts in our area. While I was waiting to meet up with some friends, sans dogs, I noticed a man tying his beautiful blue pitbull up to a gate while he went to get some Starbucks. I asked him if I could meet his dog, then I told him to be really careful leaving his dog alone because there have been so many thefts in the area. He seemed kind of offended, and said he was just running inside quickly. I then told him about our 2 pitties and the indecent proposals we get when we're walking in the neighborhood. Of course the dog didn't get stolen, and he did wave and thank me as he left, but I really felt like I overstepped my bounds. I don't know if it would have been different if I had the pooches with me, to see that I really am part of the pittie community, or if I should just mind my own business.
We had another incident when we were with our dogs at the park; a woman let her dog drink out of the fountain that clearly said it was chemically-treated water. This time I decided not to say anything. Later, I was feeling so guilty thinking how the dog could have gotten sick.What does everyone think? What obligations do we have to help others in our dog community, and when should we just mind our own business?

20 comments:

Rosiroo said...

I'm a big believer in communities helping each other proactively. Our communities are one of our strengths as humans. It's always best to speak up rather than wonder what would have happened if you had :)

houndstooth said...

I would have done the same thing that you did in both situations. It might seem like you overstepped your bounds, but honestly, you gave him information and then left it up to him to make his own decision. It's not like you were standing there forcing him not to leave his dog alone! The dog had already had a drink out of the fountain, so not a lot you could have done about that.

If I see something that's a serious potential for risk, then I'll speak up. Some things, people just have to learn for themselves, too. I say good on you for speaking to the man about a threat he may not have known.

Also, I love that raincoat your dog is wearing!

laura said...

I don't think anyone should be offended if a comment is said in a friendly helpful way. One time I noticed a woman's wide open purse was sitting in the child's seat of her grocery cart. She had her back to it and was very engrossed in looking at other things. I finally said (very nicely!) "Your purse is back here and I'm afraid someone might take it." She was very offended, yanked it onto her shoulder and announced, "I'm a Christian!"
I guess that makes her immune to bad things. But I always figured if there's a God out there he has better things to do than look after stupid people!
But, since I do care, I still usually speak up.

mayziegal said...

That's a tough one. But I think you handled both situations the right way. I think it's all in how you broach the subject. I would imagine you were very friendly and came across as only wanting to help with the guy who was going into Starbucks. And maybe next time he'll think twice about it.

As someone I really respect recently told me, "All you can do is plant the seeds and have faith that they'll grow."

Amber

Rescued Pittie Family said...

Your heart is in the right place and you're concerned about the dogs.
You're kind and your intentions are good.
Don't worry about any negativity from their humans; it's not about them.
And I'm sure once they walk away they realize how thoughtful you were to take the time to say something to them.

I think the world has just gotten way too callous and it's a mind-your-own-business mindset that rules most of the time.

Sadly, the lack of community is why we have so many problems like people's dogs getting stolen. If we didn't spend so much time minding our own business people would not have the freedom to just take someone's pet because someone would notice. And someone would say something.

You're a great ambassador for the human breed and you should always feel good about doing the right thing no matter what.

Two Crazy Coaches said...

As everyone has said, you definitely had the best intentions and handled the situations great. It's always a tough spot to be in, because people just aren't receptive to advice from strangers, no matter how well intended. I don't typically say a lot unless I am already in a conversation. But, I'm not a boat rocker so the Duo and I just stick to ourselves! :)

brooke said...

I think its a tough one. I think the way you handled both situations was good. Not everyone would react negatively to a strangers advice, but you just never know who youre going to deal with.

Jennie said...

I have a tendency to be a busy-body and tell people what to do with their dogs, so I spend a lot of time trying to gauge when an appropriate time to comment is.

My rule of thumb is be polite, and don't be afraid to speak up. The worst someone will do it yell at you, and if it prevents someone from getting hurt, who cares?

Benny and Lily said...

We think you deserve an A+. Mom would probably use bad words.
Benny & Lily

Kate said...

I agree with everyone else, I don't think you really overstepped at all. You mean your advice to be helpful, not accusatory, and I think that's the most important thing. Not everyone takes well to strangers giving advice immediately, but I like to think that when they get home they're thankful that someone cared enough to give them a heads up.

Mack and Mia said...

Woo know what they say!

It takes a village to raise a kid...errr....I mean...pooch!

Wags and woofs,
Mack and Mia

Muchadoaboutnothing said...

In the first instance, I wouldn't have said anything to the guy but I would have stayed nearby to keep an eye on the dog until he got back. In the second instance, I probably would have done the same thing you did. In my case though, it's because I tend to be more of a mind-your-own-business kind of a person and don't feel comfortable offering advice to strangers. You never know how they'll react to it.

Mack said...

I wish we lived somewhere like Chicago. There ain't nuttin' fun for doggies where we live!

Sugars,
Mack

Mango said...

Oh dear. I usually say something even though the people don't always want to hear it. At least it makes me feel better that I tried.

Mango Momma

Mr. Pip said...

I think you did the right thing. Give people information/options and hope they make the right decision that's all you can do ...

The whole leaving dogs tied up in front of stores, etc. really bothers me. However, I am always surprised how many people don't realize this is a dangerous thing to do.

Pibble said...

It's so hard because we want to help, but we don't want to offend - and people are so touchy!

I think you did the absolute right thing with the guy and his dog. It's dangerous to tie a dog like that, even for a second, to run into a store.

All you can do is try to help; if people are offended, just shrug it off. At least you tried, and you've got the dog's best interest at heart!

Kari in WeHo said...

I try and reach out because even if the person gets offended, they may think back on it later and really consider what you said.

Virginia said...

He may have seemed caught off guard, but I bet as he walked away his mind was chewing over your comments. You spoke out of care and concern for his pooch...can't fault that! :)

Mary said...

Oy, this is a very fine line to walk and I can totally relate. I often see people doing things that aren't exactly abuse or dangerous, but I wonder if I should say something or not.

For instance, I saw a guy walking his big pit bull early one morning in the park. The dog lunged at a rollerblader, in a friendly way, and the guy used the end of the leather leash to pop it on the head. You could tell by the dog's reaction that this happens a lot. And I saw him do it more than once when the dog was being a good girl and giving him attention and smiling at him-only to be rewarded with a pop to the head. Do I say something? I mean, the guy IS out early walking his dog in the park and he's not exactly beating the dog. Unfortunately, some people do use negative reinforcement to "train" their dogs. It obviously still bothers me that I didn't say anything, but I really didn't know what to do or how to approach him. Give him a lecture about training methods at 6:15 in Forest Park?

In any case, I think in your situation you did the right thing. If you are polite about it and they get defensive and rude, what more can you do? Like pp said, maybe you at least gave them food for thought.

Bruschi said...

I think you handled the situations wonderfully. You are brave to talk to strangers when you don't know how they will react to the advice you're giving them. (That they clearly need.)

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