Saturday, February 22, 2020

Still Life with Robin: Comments Unleashed!

Photo by Sardaka via Creative Commons
(not a dog mentioned in any of these comments)
by Peggy Robin

How long has it been since unleashed dogs were discussed on the Cleveland Park Listserv? (See answer below*.) If you think the answer is “too long!” then get yourself over to the Popville blog, where there’s a real rager going on over that very question. 

The original post that set off the Popville outpouring was titled “Off leash dog, rude owners — what options do we have?”[] and it came out on Thursday, Feb. 20. By Friday morning there were 150 (!) comments. By Saturday morning – as I’m typing this – the number is 161. That’s the measure of a hot topic for you. Working on the assumption that not many of you will have the time to go through all the comments, I have put together this highlights reel of the conversation:

Off-leash dogs around leashed dogs is such a big problem that many don't seem aware of. Some sort of power dynamic comes into play. I've had to yank dogs, such as a large boxer, off our beagle. The owners of the boxer were like, "he's usually so friendly!" I had the dog by the back of the neck at the time, and used some choice words that won't get past the filter as I thrust it back at them.

The suggestion that follows – to yell at the offending  owner of the unleashed dog – was the one that attracted the most feedback -- most of it positive. I have excerpted just the “yell at them” advice from a lengthier message:

As soon as you see the off-leash dog, start yelling at the top of your lungs "ALL DOGS ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES". Keep repeating it until the owner puts the dog on leash. You will get attention, but it works.

Kick them, the owners I mean.

Yup. I get rude. That's because my (leashed) fear reactive dog was bitten by off leash dogs on two separate occasions, both times were in public areas where leash laws apply, and both times the owners were *shocked* because their dogs "are usually so friendly." So I don't care anymore about confronting people who walk their dogs off leash. I will yell at you to leash your dog. I will yell that my dog is aggressive and will bite if approached (even though she has never bitten a dog.) I don't care how "friendly" your dog is, I don't care that your dog is a rescue or a pure bred golden retriever therapy dog - you are not above the law. It's really not that hard to leash your dog.

My dog is pretty well-behaved when off-leash at a park or other fenced-in area, but all it would take is one squirrel for all that to go out the window.

My dogs are reactive and I've worked very hard with them on their reactivity and they have both improved tremendously. But I am regularly boggled by people who are oblivious to the fact that I'm doing everything I can to avoid contact with them and their dog and to keep my dogs calm and well behaved.  

I presume this next poster is trying to be funny….but the trouble with online conversation is that it’s hard to show tone of voice. And you can never underestimate how unhinged some posters are.

Let your dog live! Let him taste the blood of his foes!

I've never understood this and never will. If you've tried to talk to the owners calmly and they're reacting this way, I think they've left you no choice but to call the police. Not only is this situation a danger to your dog, it's a danger to the off-leash dogs too! No matter how well you think you know your dog, they're still an animal and you can never be 100% certain how they'll react if something frightens or upsets them. They could run into the street and be killed in an instant! Unless you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere there is simply no excuse for not having your dog on a leash.

I once saw a woman let her dog crap on the sidewalk in front of my residence and kept going. I yelled to her "excuse me there is a law in DC requiring you pick that up and even if there wasn't there are plenty of reasons why you should" She replied: "F you!" and walked away. So I picked up the crap myself in a bag and followed her home 4 blocks and as she went up her walk I dumped the bag out in front of her door and said "since it doesn't bother you to have this shit in front of my residence, guess you won't mind it in front of yours either!" She was speechless and I walked away.

….And then there was this comment, which came after a long exchange about people who will rationalize breaking rules or laws, and how laws should be strictly enforced:

I think the people on this thread are being completely irrational and make me want to go do it out of spite.

….And how quickly this poster generalizes from the no-leash dog walkers to “DC is full of jerks.” (Kinda makes you wonder what mythical jerkless land this poster hails from..): 

DC is full of self-entitled jerks, and it seems to be getting worse. I blame the fact that there is effectively no enforcement of any civil laws, at all. No traffic enforcement, no building code enforcement, no public-pot-smoking enforcement, just to name a few violations with large externalities. People seem to have adopted the "you can't tell me what to do since I can get away with just about anything" approach to life here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, from a resident living in a seat of government, the suggestion to call in the law – and make it pay:

The city could make a killing by just sticking a police officer in Logan Circle or in Cap Hill to write unleashed dog tickets for two hours. Plus, it would likely get news coverage and make Bowser look good to the anti-gentrification crowd.

Sort of boggles my mind that the city hasn't done this yet.

And then, perhaps even more fittingly for our times, someone pointing out that the law can sometimes be swept aside...with the right political pressure: 

I agree, but also can predict that every single dog owner that got a ticket would be calling/emailing/lining up outside their councilmember's office to complain about how UNFAIR it was that they were ticketed. DC - especially the Logan neighborhood - is full of loud, self-entitled jerks who think laws and social norms don't and shouldn't apply to them.

* Answer: May 2018 – and that’s quite a long time without this topic on the listserv, which in past years has usually come up multiple times a year. While there was was nothing in 2019, look at the record for 2017: There were unleashed dog incident reports, followed by often-lengthy discussions of the problem, posted in February and again in May, and then a really long-running thread starting at the end of September and continuing on for several days through the beginning of October, and then popping up again at the end of October 2017 - six times!
Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.        

1 comment:

  1. This was so interesting and even helpful to a non-dog owner-who-loves-dogs like myself. Thank you for sharing!