Recently I moved from a rural home in New Hampshire to a townhouse in Massachusetts, and in the process I was thrown into a strange new world of gossipy neighbors, assigned parking spaces, and condo fees. Even harder to adjust to was the fact that my dog didn’t have a huge yard and kennel to play in…and I had to follow her around with a baggie to pick up her poop.
Another adjustment was the leash law here in town. Elsa was never on a leash back in NH, she didn’t have to be, we had a field surrounded by woods. I had worked diligently on training her to come when called too, so that in those occasional situations when a car came down the driveway or a deer ran across the field, I didn’t have to worry about her bounding off after them. So my initial reaction upon moving to MA was that the leash law was unnecessary and a nuisance.
Fast forward a couple of months and now I’m a dog walker in town, I’m extremely fond and protective of my clients, and I in every way support the leash law! It really sank in a couple of weeks ago when I was walking a puppy. I bring Elsa along on walks with this particular pup to increase her socialization and they have become quite fond of one another. The pup absolutely loves to jump on, bite, and run into Elsa at top speed…while Elsa just stands there with her Collie smile, putting up with it. And as confident as this has made the pup with other dogs, I have to make sure she understands that not all dogs will be as tolerable. Therefore, when we go to a small park each day and meet other dogs on leashes, I request that my pup sits and politely meets the other.
Well on two incidences, we arrived at the park to find a man with two large dogs loose in the park. He was attempting to amuse them by throwing a tennis ball, but both were way more interested in sniffing, running, and checking out other dogs. As I walked along the path with Elsa and the pup, the man’s dogs suddenly took notice of us and ran at top speed towards my two. I quickly reeled in my dogs, and as the man took notice he shouted to me from across the park “don’t worry, they’re friendly!” Well, my friendly dog has never greeted another from top speed. Upon arriving at us, the two dogs, hair raised on their backs, bounced around my dogs, sniffing and dodging, as I tried to drag my two away from them. The man told me not to worry, their wagging tails meant they were friendly. Yes, a wagging tail could represent a friendly dog, but it also could simply represent a dog that wants to socialize, regardless of his intentions. The dogs would not listen to their owner and would not leave us alone, regardless of his multiple attempts to call them off or get their attention with the tennis ball. My concern for the pup grew as she began trying to entice the two dogs to play, and I finally, kindly, explained to him that I am a dog walker, it’s my job to protect the pup, and that I did not appreciate his lack of control over his dogs. The park is filled everyday with people, dogs, and children, and I was sure that I was not the only one with that opinion. Upon explaining that to him, I continued to walk my dogs on the road rather than the park, and the man has since not returned to the park with his two dogs.
Though I still trust Elsa 100% off the leash, I keep her on it at all times. It’s up to responsible dog owners to show irresponsible dog owners the proper way to own and raise a dog. We don’t each have a rural home surrounded by fields and woods to allow our dogs to run and play loose…we all share the same roads and parks, and must respect each other when it comes to our actions with our pets.