Sunday, March 30, 2008

Should people apologize for their dogs?

I was at the dog park yesterday with Sally. She's almost out of her mind with excitement as we pull in, and, after I have her sit, explodes from the car in what must be one of the most gleeful displays of dogdom ever. She bounces around for a while, does her business, greets other dogs, then usually follows me around as I walk around the place a few times.

My otherwise wonderful dog, however, has one fault when it comes to the dog park. She is a shameless toy thief. Yes, I do bring her own ball when we go, and I've left several there, so she'll usually run into one, but if she sees another owner throwing something to their dog, she'll often go over there and make an attempt to get it. About half the dogs let her, and the other half won't, but if she gets something, there's another doggie happy dance as she galumphs away with her prize.

After I apologize and tell the owner that I'll get their toy back, I try to ignore her and she'll usually lose interest in a couple of minutes. If I don't it's a very fun (from her point of view) game of me following her around saying in a stern voice, "Drop it, Sal".

I was sort of following her yesterday, when we wandered into the middle of the park, where the most dogs and owners are. The park is an old high school track, which is such a great place to take dogs and walk around - everyone wins. Anyway, I was following Sal (discretely) when this Great Dane starts chasing her. They were only playing, but the dog slammed into my leg as it was trying to get to Sal, who has this habit of walking between my legs, I guess to feel safer.

This was a 100 lb. dog, and its owners were right there. I said "Ouch!" and they both said, in that voice reserved for cute toddlers, "Oh, Sampson!" As though he gave me a lick instead of a bruise. I may sound like a curmudgeon, but this disassociation from one's dog's actions annoys me. If Sally behaves in a way that impacts other dogs or owners, well, see two paragraphs above.

Dog-ful but child-less couples are pretty obvious.


  1. Nice insight. There's a third version, however, for us dog-less, child-less types.

    I was at a brewery a couple weekends back (yes, we have them here in Fort Worth!). Many dogs were present on leashes. Most were well-behaved or had apologetic owners. But there was a period where my party was sitting on the floor off in the corner and there was a pug on the loose and a puppy on one of those leashes that allows you plenty of slack or the option to reel 'em in close.

    Well, the puppy inevitably did what puppies do and got all up in our business (read: LAPS) while his owner watched from afar, leash drawn out to maximum length, with a grin that made me madder than the the puppy drool all over my pants. He eventually wandered over and talked to us about the puppy's age, etc., but never issued an apology for the dog crawling all over us with abandon.

    "Should people apologize for their dogs?"

    Yes. Dogs will be dogs. I get it. I don't fault the dogs. But only the most audacious parent wouldn't apologize for a misbehaving child, especially one that was invading your personal space.

    And I'd wager a guess that more people are tolerant of small children than are tolerant of animals/pets of a variety of sorts.

    To me, the irk lies in the assumption that I even LIKE dogs in the first place. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. But the man with the puppy didn't know either way. He just ASSUMED that I wouldn't give a lick about anything a cute little puppy might do to me. That to me is on par with just ASSUMING that I'm atheist/spiritual, liberal/conservative, longhorn/aggie. It's not polite to really assume anything about strangers. That's what manners are all about, right? A set of standard rules governing behavior that all of us should default to until we’re more familiar with people?

    Anyway, I like dogs. I just don't like strangers' dogs in my face without an apology.

    Sal looks cute, BTW, and tell Mr. W. the lady from the plant store says hi!

    -b in TX-

  2. I agree! Seems like people think anything their dog does is cute and dismissable as "just being a dog". Thanks for commenting.


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.