Bad Owners and Good Dogs

The Mayday Project — Day 106

I’ve started going for a 30 minute walk every day. My goal is a 30 minute walk every day in the month of May. I don’t like the gym so I’ve started walking outside around my neighborhood to get some fresh air and exercise. I live in south San Jose and the neighborhood is all residential single-family homes surrounded by quiet streets and sidewalks. Since I’ve been venturing out into the neighborhood, I’ve run into many dogs and dog owners. Almost every time I go for a walk, someone walking a dog will cross the street, obviously avoiding me. At first I was a little hurt or offended. Why did they cross the street? Was it too much of a hassle to let me walk by? What would the dog do? Now I realize these are the courteous neighbors. Some dogs have a more difficult time with strangers and it’s the good owners that know this and take them across the street.

Most of the dog owners I know are great dog-parents. They care for their dogs like children, but they also clean up after them and discipline them when necessary. However, I am shocked by how many dog owners in my neighborhood are terrible owners. One day, I walked toward a man and his big yellow dog. The dog was on a chain leash. At first, I thought the owner was going to take the dog across the street. The dog laid down on the sidewalk as I approached. I thought the dog was well trained or in training, so I proceeded without any indication not to from the owner. When I walked by, the dog lunged and snapped at me. I’ve had dogs run out of a yard and jump up on my legs. I’ve had dogs bark and snarl at me and the owners do nothing. I’ve had several incidents that range from terrifying to mildly annoying. Today, I had a beagle follow me half way down the block because he was off his leash and the owners weren’t paying attention. I had a little black mutt run out of a house and claw up my leg. This is on top of the big piles of dog poop on my front lawn that neighbors don’t clean up.

I don’t blame the dogs. They’re doing what they think is right; they don’t know if I’m a danger, threat, nuisance or predator. They are protecting themselves and their pack, but this lifestyle can’t be healthy for them. It must be so stressful to walk out on the street and see everyone as a threat. The dogs must be so scared and anxious all the time because they don’t understand the rules of human society. Some of these dogs live in constant fear, and that’s so sad.

I know what they’re feeling, because I feel the same way. Every time I walk out the door, I am nervous I’m going to meet an angry dog. I keep my eyes open and hope I don’t get bit. I’m trying to enjoy my neighborhood and the outdoors, but I’m nervous any time I see a dog. I feel ashamed for even admitting my reaction because it’s unpopular to criticize how owners behave. I should be able to walk down the street without fear and so should the dogs.

I’m really tired of bad dog owners. They are unkind to the dogs and to their neighbors. No one is happy in this situation and it can’t be pleasant for the owner either. Owners need to step up and understand it’s their responsibility to protect their dogs and neighbors. If a neighbor got bit, the dog may be put to sleep, which would be a huge tragedy. Owning a dog is a significant responsibility like parenting. I wish all dog owners would rise to the responsibility and care for their dogs physically, mentally and emotionally.▪️

The Mayday Project is a personal, total wellness plan. These essays will track my progress and development of the plan. Please follow for tips, ideas, inspiration and what not to do when you’re changing your life.

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