Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dear John Quiñones,

It might be a tough one to pull off, but I need a show about this: 

I was walking my dog on a relatively busy street near my apartment complex. My dog, though well-medicated and hanging in there, has heart failure. He is sweet and docile, a Blue Heeler--not an aggressive breed, yet I keep in on leash because a.) I want to keep him safe and b.) I know that dogs can be unpredictable when they feel threatened, no matter how sweet they are.

Yesterday, as we walked after a good rain, a soaking wet black Lab mixed with something stocky came rushing toward us. He charged my little guy, who is very laid back by nature and even more so on all his meds and with a tricky ticker. The dog sniffed my dog at first, then started growling, then started showing his teeth and biting. His owners were twenty feet away, walking leisurely. When their dog started getting aggressive, I yelled to the two women, one younger, one older, to come get their dog off of my dog. They didn't run, just continued to stroll, so I had to pull the Lab mix from my dog. I wasn't bitten, but it wasn't easy. The younger of the two of them finally rushed up, after I yelled at her three times, to get the dog.

Then what? Well, I was angry. I'm not sure what I should have done, and I'd love to know what you would have done, but here's what I did. I told the both of them, "You need to keep your dog on a leash so he doesn't go attacking other dogs."

In response, the older woman who didn't seem to care at all said, "He doesn't usually do this. He was just playing." This is the same comment a Chow owner made when I was a little kid and got bit on the eye by her vicious ("but usually so sweet") dog. It took everything I had to not attack that woman like her dog attacked mine.

Of course, I did not hurt the woman. Instead, I told her, well, "You can't say that anymore. Get your dog a damn leash." She ignored me. My dog is fine, but I was so incredibly shaken up because I know every time his heart rate goes way up, he's probably losing time. He's a happy dog, and he's in good shape, but I know these days are numbered and people that put his health in jeopardy are hitting every maternal instinct a dog mom can have.  

But when they walked off, I watched. The dog started running off, way in front of them again. What about that dog? That dog could just as easily chased a squirrel into the busy road we were walking along. It could have just as easily attacked a child or another animal that could have taken it down. 

In a city like San Antonio, with a population of 1.36 million, there are many busy streets. There are many large apartment complexes on busy streets, like the one I live in, and there are something near 200,000 stray dogs and cats. The odds that an unleashed dog will get hurt or hurt someone/some other animal are high. I don't understand why anyone who lives in the city, especially a big city like this, would be so incredibly irresponsible. But also, I wonder if I should have done more.

The ending of this story is bittersweet. The sweet part is this: my dog is not hurt, there are no bite marks, though he was shaken up and had a tough night (he breathes hard all night on days he gets really excited). The bitter part is this: the woman turned into my apartment complex, and walked all the way to the back. I live in a very large complex, and though I take comfort in the fact that I can pass on her behavior to the rental office, I don't have much confidence that this will that change her behavior. Should I have been nicer to her? Psychologically, I doubt my reaction did much more than amuse and maybe scare her.

But I'm calmer now. But this isn't the first time it's happened that a dog owner's dog charges me or my dog. Usually, the owner is apologetic or runs after the dog, but nice or not, this is a problem. Should I have reported her? And to whom, Animal Control? Should I get dog-repelling pepper spray? Would that hurt the dog more than help? I wonder what I should have done, really...

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