I suspect that our weekend morning walks around Schiller Park are a bit less enjoyable for Betty.
On our weekday morning walks, which typically occur at around 6 a.m., there are, at most, one or two other dogs that we encounter, and often we see no other dogs at all.
On our weekend morning walks, on the other hand, we walk a bit later, and usually there are lots of other dogs out — some walking, some playing fetch with their human pals, and some frolicking with other dogs. Betty is always alert to the dogs that are running free, and I sometimes entertain the notion of letting her off the leash to roam a bit. She’s not specifically trained for that, however, and I just don’t want to take the chance that she’s going to run off and get into some kind of trouble. So I keep the leash on, and we walk forward instead.
The weekend walks get tougher when, as happened this morning, some thoughtless person lets an untrained dog loose and the dog charges up to every other dog in the park — including Betty. It’s unnerving to have a canine of unknown provenance run up to you and your dog with uncertain intentions. Most dogs are friendly and just want to do the sniff routine, but there have been incidents at Schiller Park where dogs have attacked each other and done some serious damage, to the horror of owners and bystanders. That’s why the park has a policy that, if you can’t exercise immediate control over your dog by verbal commands, you need to keep the dog on a leash . . . period. Since there aren’t a lot of verbal command dogs, that means most dogs should be kept on a leash.
But, what’s the social protocol for what to do when some irresponsible person ignores that common-sense rule? In today’s encounter, the owner of the roaming dog was some older woman who didn’t seem at all troubled by her failure to follow the rules and the fact that her dog was misbehaving and racing up to every other dog in the park. Should the leashed dog owner say something, or is that crossing an improper line? I have no desire to lecture people on following the rules, but how else are the rules going to have an impact?
It makes me wish that some dog owners could be put on a leash, too.