Animal control.

The child and I are walking home from Playcentre. A nanny and her child are walking home with us. We pass the school, and all the school children are outside. It is noisy.

The child and his little friend are walking next to the school fence, about five metres from the footpath. A brown dog (maybe a Pinscher) comes bounding down the footpath. The dog runs down to the children by the school fence. A minute later, a woman appears on the footpath.

Me: Your dog is supposed to be on a lead.

Woman: He’s friendly.

Me: How am I supposed to know that? I don’t know you, or your dog. (In fact, I think I recognize her. It's a small village)

Woman: I called out to you.

Me: I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you. (angry at myself for apologizing)

Woman (calls her dog): See, he’s friendly. (The dog comes. She tries to get her dog to sit)

Me: It can be scary for small children, having a strange dog approach them.

The child: I wasn’t scared.



Suzy said...

Women always apologize for saying they're sorry, including me. I think we just have a wish that we can all get along. I've never heard a man apologize like that!!

tennysoneehemingway said...

And this is exactly why I have my dogs on a lead all the time, even though the only they could do is bite your ankles.

Juli said...

Having your dog on a lead is the law!

I like to make other people follow the law. I should have been a cop.

Sarah said...

I agree with you Juli. I also love Suzy's comment. I did have a chuckle at your post. Good on you to voice your concerns. As you say, even a friendly dog can be intimidating to a child - especially given the size of some dogs compared to a child. I always teach my children to ask the owner before they pat a dog.

Aliceson said...

We have 2 large dogs and still my kids get scared when a strange dog gets too close.

I get annoyed when people bring their dogs to parks with signs that clearly say NO DOGS ALLOWED IN PARK. I agree the law is the law.

jason sidwell said...

i can't resist a counter-perspective here, julie.
there are leash (lead?) laws in america, too, of course, and a few years ago i found out just how seriously my local government takes them.

i was taking my then 14 month old son and lab puppy of the same age to a local park. it was late morning on a weekday, so when i arrived we were to be the only walkers enjoying the crisp but sunny autumn weather. i opened the back door to my car and began to unload the riders, first brooklyn (my pup), and then jonah (my son). brooklyn sat obediently by the car as i set the stroller and unstrapped jonah, but the there was an unexpected snafu. brooklyn saw a gaggle of geese walking nearby. i had neglected to leash her while i readied the baby and, because it is an irresistible instinct for a retriever breed, brooklyn hauled ass the hundred yards across the park, giving chase to the geese, who promptly alighted, flying to safety in a nearby pond. i called her back and, obediently, she returned and sat. unbeknownst to me, an "animal control(l?)" officer had watched the entire proceeding from the parking lot. she approached the car now, ticket booklet open, readying her pen.

jason sidwell said...

"good morning, sir," she said.
"good morning," i replied, looking at her pad. "what's up?"
"you do know that lakewood law requires your dog to be leashed at all times outside the bounds of your own property?" she asked.
"yes," i said, "i'm very sorry about that chase scene, i was getting my boy ready and brook got a little excited by the geese, but my leash is right here (i held it up)." brooklyn sat obediently at my feet, tongue out and smiling.
"unfortunately," she replied, "your leash was not on the dog as i watched from my van. i watched the dog go halfway cross the park and chase those geese."
"did you also watch her return immediately upon my voice command?" i asked as brooklyn smiled even wider, looking up at me with what can only be described as a proud look in her eyes.
"none the less," the officer answered, beginning to fill out the citation, "i'm going to have to ticket you for a dog at large violation."
"you're kidding," i responded.
"no, i'm afraid not," she said.
"but there's no one else in the park," i pointed out, "and i can't see how a few moments makes a difference if nobody was bothered."
"your dog chased the geese," she replied.
i looked at her blankly. "the geese?"
"they are a federally protected species. you are lucky i don't cite you for harassment," she retorted.
now i am getting pissed. "are you for real, lady? harassment? it's a goddamn goose. my dog chased some geese. they weren't harmed. they don't need your protection. god gave them wings, and they used them. and by the way, geese are FEDERALLY protected? jesus christ, in such terrifying times, terrorist attacks threatening the homeland, enemies sneaking through every porous boarder, it is your very important job to protect the geese? well thank god, thank GOD there is money being spent to pay you to protect the f*ing geese. i will sleep much better tonight."
"watch your language, sir, and calm down," she threatened, "or i will have to call some officers in."
"you mean some REAL cops," i snorted, "not just goose patrol backup, i hope. yes, you better do that. me, my infant and my puppy are obviously a clear and present danger to the community, especially the precious goddamn geese," i continued, not calming down, as my infant cooed and my puppy sat, still obediently, grinning and panting.
she handed me the ticket, which was for $75, dog at large and harassment of a federally protected species.
"you will never see a f*cking cent of this money," i promised her. "i hope your mom is proud of the important job you do," i added as i began to load the car back up and she walked away.
"you better pay the ticket," she said over her shoulder.

two years later, ticket unpaid and forgotten, i was working as a driver, and late one night, several counties north of lakewood, i was pulled over on a routine traffic stop. unfamiliar with the area, i had made a left turn where one was prohibited. the officer got my information and said he was going to let me go with a warning, he just had to run my
information. he went back to the cruiser for a few minutes, then returned, looking a little worried.
"i'm sorry, but i'm going to have to ask you to exit the car. you have a warrant in lakewood county."
"what?" i said
"exit the car, please."

yup. patted down, cuffed and stuffed. and i spent 2 days in jail, general lockup, surrounded by criminals of all kinds, who all suggested that if i spent any time at all in jail i should come up with a lie to tell the other inmates about why i was there.

Juli said...

Jason, you are a fantastic writer. You should write a book (or a blog).

If the dog woman had been apologetic, I would have been all, Sweet as, mate. What ruffled my feathers was her acting like I was making a fuss over nothing.

PS. I love dogs. Especially big dogs.

betty-NZ said...

That's just so wrong of her, but then, Kiwis are like that--oblivious. I would be angry, too, if I had wee ones around a strange dog.

harmzie said...

When my 9 y.o. was 1.5, I took her to the school playground. A dog (small one) came barrelling across the field and my girl went up to it and pet it and scratched its head and it wagged its tail. It was far away from me (too far) and I should not have let it happen.

However, the owner, who was further across the field letting his dog bolt freely, proceeded to chastise ME for letting my kid touch a strange dog (like I wasn't already kicking myself).

There are signs at EVERY entrance to all school properties that there are NO DOGS allowed EVER, leash or not.

Sweet Jane said...

Oh gawd. I totally hear you. What's embarrassing is how I went from being 'that woman' to 'you' on one day. The day of which I speak was the day I was split open by birthing my child.

But Hey I too thought it was fine because my dog was (is!) friendly. I thought it was fine because I had him under vocal control (mostly).
But guess what? When I've got a tiny person strapped to my chest and my dog is on a lead (aka leash in this here good ol' UsuvA) and a
random law breaking dog comes up and wants to play and now I'm in
trouble because I've got a TINY HELPLESS person strapped to my chest and I cannot hold on to the lead while the dogs roughhouse and
possibly fight so now I've got to drop the leash and slowly back away
and now I'm annoyed with the old me. And that woman. Totally.

Madame DeFarge said...

I fear the child needs to learn the script. But some dog owners should remember that we're not always as keen as they are on their mutts.

Will Ryan said...

I'm constantly annoyed with owners who consider their dogs somehow tamer and more loveable than the hounds of hell lawmakers obviously had in mind when drawing up ordinances. Juli, remember that dog across the street in Worthingview that used to terrorize all the neighborhood kids? Was his name Patches? I still remember a group of us running screaming into the garage, slamming the door behind us, and that dog barking and clawing madly on the outside while we peered at it through the window. He probably just wanted to play, but that sure scared the bejeezus out of me.

Jason, I empathize with your story. Same thing happened to a friend of mine, complete with a night spent in county jail. Next time (God forbid), use your day in court. The animal officer probably wouldn't have shown up, and even if she did, I like to think a reasonable judge, upon hearing your tale, would have waived or cut the fee. Probably naive of me to think this way, but I yearn for a world where common sense prevails.

Anonymous said...

I agree that in public dogs should be on a leash. And I found in NZ it very rare to see a dog without a leash on (although it does happen, and my mother was attacked by 3 dogs when she was out running).

But compared with French dog owners
I find NZ dog owners are very responsible. I'm constantly surprised by dogs running around without their leashes in France. Just walking 15 minutes home I would see at least 2 dogs sans leash. They all seem very well behaved but it still doesn't make me any less fearful. And don't get me started on the dog poo everywhere!