The other night when I had BD I decided it would be nice to go on a walk around a local forest together. It’s a lovely place to walk, it’s close to where I pick him up from and the gravel path means that he doesn’t get too mucky (I love him, but I have new creamish carpets so although I want him to have loads of fun on our walks at the moment I am all about good clean fun!) It’s also nice and quiet, we very rarely run into other people or dogs and when we do the path is big enough I know we can easily pass – I call it a low stress walk!
However, last night my ‘low stress’ walk backfired slightly when an idiot male passed crossed my path and I went from relaxed to full out stress in the space of about 5 minutes, and it was all his bloody fault.
Bd and I were happily walking along, BD had is tennis ball and I was chattering away to him and focusing on being in the moment when in the distance I spotted a man running and a black dog behind him. Now anyone with a reactive dog will tell you one of the skills you develop when your dog doesn’t like others is an ability to spot another dog at 1000 paces.
I knew this was going to be a challenging situation for BD and that more than likely we would have a reaction. For some unknown reason he has started barking at every dog he sees (not a popular habit he has formed!) however the massive improvement is it isn’t a ‘grrr I’m going to kill you’ bark more a ‘look, look, over there is a dog, have you seen it?’ bark. To me this is a big improvement, not so much to the people with the other dog, you should have seen the dirty look the cute young vet gave me when he passed me in the street, his terrier trotting along nicely in front of him while my ginger nutcase bounced and barked and tried to pull me into the street, while I told him he was a good boy, to calm down and tried to persuade him to sit (apparently asking for a ‘trick’ distracts them). Anyway I digress!
So I called BD to me, took his tennis ball from him and put on his muzzle.
This is my fail safe way to get BD past a dog. I do not put him back on his lead as he feels restricted and so is more likely to react. So I muzzle and then carry on with the walk. With his muzzle on he can’t bite the other dog, so even if anything was to look like it may happen BD can’t do any damage. But the really play is to make sure I have the tennis ball in my hand. My boy is ball obsessed and so long as I have the tennis ball his eyes will be on me. A marching band could parade past him and unless they got in his face he would not bat an eyelid – the ball is all that matters.
Ideally in this situation I will just try and walk past the other dog, as I once read you need to make seeing another dog a ‘none event’ but as this was a running dog I thought it was better to pause in a nice wide part of the trail and wait for them to pass.
Which the runner did. He said hello as he ran past, but the dog froze. I called after the runner to ask if that was his dog, but he just ignored me and carried on his way.
I assumed that one of two things would happen. One the runner would stop and wait for the dog to catch up, encouraging him past me and BD so they could carry on with their walk or b the dog would pause slightly but as his ‘dad’ carried on he would run past us both to catch up.
Neither of these things happened.
The man kept on running, as in out of sight, gone, forgotten about.
And the dog froze.
I waited and then I swore.
The man had gone. Clearly this was not his dog.
There was no one else about, and we had been walking for a while. I knew we were in the middle of nowhere and for a dog to be here alone it was probably lost.
I swore again.
I couldn’t just leave it.
But I was with BD, I will admit to grumbling something along the lines of “why does this only ever happen when I have BD with me.” Had this situation presented itself with Mity he would have trotted along happily next to the new dog, thinking he had found a new friend. In fact once we used Mity as ‘bait’ when a neighbours scared dog got out. We encouraged it to follow Mity all the way home and Mity thought the whole thing was the most fun game ever.
BD would not think this is the most fun game ever. BD would not like this dog following him home.
I told BD to wait, and I slowly crept towards the strange dog. I noticed it was wearing a collar and so I decided I would ring the number on it. Simples.
I crept forward, talking calmly.
BD watched my every mood.
I have to admit he was very good and he didn’t make a fuss and let me approach this dog.
As I swapped between watching this dog and checking BD for signs of concern/reactivity I tried to assess the condition of the strange dog to see how long it may have been out there.
I found some dog treats in my pocket and held one out, hoping that the other dog would be tempted. I kept my tone low and my movements slow.
As I got close the dog let out an almighty yelp and raced off.
I swore again.
BD watched it go he sort of went to follow it, but not in an aggressive manner and returned to me as soon as I called. But now I was more upset. In this situation I can’t help but wonder what would happen if it was BD or Mity; how I would feel about them being out there alone. I felt like I had let down this dog and its owner. I wondered what I should have done different. I considered leaving the rest of my treats on the trail so it would have a little something to eat. Granted it was about 4 large treats, but still it would have been something.
I decided to pull myself together. Unmuzzled BD and chucked his ball for him resigned to the fact that I couldn’t do anything more.
And at the point the idiot running man came back into view with the dog clearly with him; turns out his was his dog after all. Initially I was relieved that the dog was going to be ok, but the relief was replaced with annoyance with this bloke. He had seen my muzzle BD. His dog had been held up, too afraid to pass me and BD and yet he had ran off and not given a flying ……..feck.
You don’t have to have a dog. It is a choice not a necessity and if you can’t be arsed to properly care and look after a dog, then don’t have one.
I tell you this guys complete disregard has me boiling for quite some time. In fact even now it gets me cross just thinking about it.