Don’t Stop and Stare, Please Keep Walking

I have said this before. I know I have. I have said this for years. I yell it in advance when I move off a path far in advance of what could be a very bad situation. This is me being courteous, responsible and dare I say, protective of my dog.

My sister is in town from Toronto on her first visit ever to Vancouver Island. Regardless of the day, the dogs need to be walked. We took my sister on an adventure and did Alyard Farm at East Sooke Park. It’s an awesome place to visit and has everything, woods, sand, ocean, views, meadows and rocks. It was a rainy Victoria Day and that meant it would be okay to change plans and take the dogs. On a sunny day I’d have thrown the ball and walked again in the evening because it would have been over run with offleash and far too stressful for Luke and I. The biggest problem I see is that this is a large provincial park and people go and have zero control of their dogs. Half of them aren’t even paying attention to the animal they have brought.

The parking lot was at just under half capacity, we chose the overflow field parking because it was empty and unloaded the dogs. Quick jaunt to a main forest path. Our dogs are on leashes. One is flight based fear and then there is good old reactive Luke, all bark and so far no bite. Under control at this point is because of fear and a lot of work. It means he isn’t pulling me over like he was a year ago. He is sitting and barking but under control. He needs to learn to control his barking. I know this. Baby steps. I am happy with just barking right now. Voice that fear and uncertainty Luke, it’s a warning to give space, it’s also a good indication that perhaps you should leash your dog as you pass.

Not far in Luke does some business off the path, I’m getting a bag out while holding on to him and here comes trouble, off leash little dog that clearly runs the show. Side note, we have large birds of prey that do take little dogs, if my dog was little I would have it covered and leashes on a short lead at all times. I call these rampant little dogs owl pellets and eagle fodder. Do these owners think? They don’t. I walked away from collecting Luke’s waste and took him as far off the path as I could and grabbed the handle of his vest and did what I do these days, I told him it was ok as my wife asked the owners to call there dog away and keep walking…

…what do they do? What many do. They stop and stare as if this isn’t going to cause an issue. Again my wife asks them to move on and keep their dog with them and away from us, we are off as far as we can be people! We are way off the path. After gawking while Luke goes from warning barks to all out fear frenzy barking they scoop up said little dog (don’t do this people, just clip a leash on and move, you really make a reactive dog worry when you suddenly scoop a child or dog up!), stare at Luke directly like he and I are the devil and the husband gives a loud “HUMPH!”as they go by, maintaining sharp eye contact with Luke as his barking is now absolutely shrill.

It should never get shrill. That is way beyond what he can handle and now we have a large dog curious and heading towards us from the opposite direction. Lovely. That dog did recall back to it’s owner but it took a few calls and it got within an uncomfortable range before going back to it’s owner. Poor Luke. This happened again on the way back however we side stepped way off the path and into a clearing.

Owners must keep their dogs under control at all times in public spaces and parks. This is posted everywhere. Under control means perfect recall and on you or leashed. See leashes dogs coming your way? Leash up or have your dog 100% on you. Seriously. Feel the need to shame as you go by? Don’t. The problem was you. The problem was your lack of control. The problem was your actions and directly challenging a dog that is clearly reacting. This is not a game. This is safety and not redlining an animal that is clearly in discomfort. Animals give warnings. Luke gives a warning. He will growl and stand alert. His hackles come up and he barks. If you heed the warning and keep distance he will stop. He needs to know there is no threat. Don’t be a threat.

If you are an owner that absolutely cannot leash your dog, respect others and read up on animals. Educate yourselves on what to do to avoid a dangerous encounter with a cornered and fearful dog on leash. Care enough about your animal and your safety because reactive dog owners care enough about their animals and their safety and it should not be our responsibility to worry about yours as well. Clearly there are more reactive dogs these days and clearly many owners are doing all they can for the love of their rescue or fearful animal. Not every owner is, we see that in the news but the majority of us are.

On a side note we only had to clear off the path 4 or 5 times which is nice. We did water and car the dogs to go to the beach where we were accosted by a large offleash lab cross who was completely out of control and running without his people all over the place while they ignored. He reminded me of Luke and he kept hanging out by us. I looked at him and asked him he’d like to come home with us and I think he would have had a disembodied voice not called him off after several calls. Again. Control your dogs. You could have lost this one and I can tell you by his body language that he will be problematic if he ever goes through the experiences Luke has, your chances are higher than mine, Luke has always been close when attacked.

Next post is a gear post. If you want to see how serious we are, check that post out. I feel that one look at us when we go out should be enough to know, we are working and there. Oils be a problem if you cannot keep your dog away and give respectful space.

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