This article was composed by one of our readers. Both they and their dog have adopted pseudonyms to remain anonymous. Their thoughts, feelings, and experiences are a worrying truth of dog-society today.
Where do I start? Well, my name is ‘Terry’ and four years ago I adopted a Siberian Husky called ‘Nala’.
Nala had been in-and-out of a local pound more times than you could think possible. “My other dog doesn’t like her”, “I just don’t have the time for her”, “I just think she’d be better with someone else” – I heard all of these, and more, from the pound office. These were the excuses past adoptees has presented when returning her to the pound – just days (or hours) after leaving for a hopeful forever home.
What they really meant was…this dog is reactive. Not only did the failed adopters negate to mention it, but so did the pound. Listed, quite firmly, as “Good with other dogs.”. No-one wanted to handle the truth.
The truth however, came crumbling down on us when out on our first walk. Narrow path. Dogs passing, she seems happy – a little excited (she has just spent pretty much years in the pound after all) – and the oncoming dog also well up for saying hello and havign a sniff, and maybe even a quick play-bow. That lasted at best three-hundreths of a second. Before a polite “Hello” could be mustered between myself and the other owner, madness had ensued. From a bundle of joy, to a crazed beast. No-one seemingly knew what to do. Only through the virtue of being used to handling larger dogs did I have any prayer in getting her out of there without injury to any party. A catastrophy? Probably not. But a rude awakening, for sure.
Here’s where the plea starts. I know that your dog is brilliant off-lead. I know that they bare “no danger” (to be disputed, but I know what you’re getting at). And, I know, that you have every-right to walk your well behaved dog off-lead in any public place that allows it.
What you don’t have, however, is the right to disrupt my dog and myself. It’s not your fault that my dog is terrified of yours – you probably don’t even believe that fear is the driving force – how could anyone be afraid of your dog? But fear, it most certainly is.
My dogs’ fear is semi-irrational, it’s a fear stemming from a long time of neglect, confusion and likely ill-treatment. I’m welling-up just writing this. She now has the strength and stability at home to live a ‘normal’ life, but that alone will never be enough to make her a ‘normal’ dog – should such a thing exist.
You truly cannot understand what a positive impact you would make on a genuinely lovely, yet troubled, dogs’ day if you were to use a lead for just a moment. Just enough so that every time we see you, defences don’t immedietly go up.
I can hear it now, “you should train your dog better”…easy to say when you’ve never had to experience a reactive dog. But anyone who has will tell you, we’ve done more training than you. Unquestionably and undoubtedly. If we hadn’t, the situation may be far worse.
I don’t ask for the sake of making my life easier, I understand the complications and the commitment I have made. I will work tirelessly, at every opportunity, to easy her fears and improve her life. But my work can only be entirely effective, if everyone just gives a little space.
Don’t do it for me, do it for a once neglected dog who just wants to walk through the park, finally enjoying her happy life.