This is more or less in response to letters I see on occasion by people who insist that all dogs should be on leash wherever they may be when not in their own small, tiny miniscule backyards. I recently read somewhere (and, now I wish I remember where), that you're more apt to be struck by lightening than to be bitten by a strange dog and that most dog attacks happen to people who already know the dog (within the family, usually).
I admit that there are people who are attracted to having dangerous dogs, who glory in it. Dogs often take the cue from their owners in how they are to present themselves. And, so, you have mean people with mean dogs. I've also read that dogs who live in neighborhoods without fences rarely bark. The myth of territory is something artificially buttressed by our own needs to fence ourselves off from one another. Dogs once again are taking the cue.
What I'm getting at is that yes, owners should have dogs leashed in heavily populated areas; (I totally agree on this point) but, those of you who state the rules and the laws about being leashed in public outdoor areas and parks, must realize that dog owners have very few places to take dogs anymore where the dogs can just run and play and be dogs. How would you feel if there was a law that said all children must be on a leash? If a child could not run and play and burn off steam, that child would be impossible. It is the same with dogs.
When I take my dog out, I let her offleash on trails when I see no one close by; but, when I see people, I call her to me and place the leash on before they get close. In some places, dog people secretly meet and we all have a beautiful time, where the dogs play and romp together. Some dogs growl and give warnings to each other, but, there are rare occasions of real fights. Dogs are generally just play games with each other. These meetings with other dog people in Pleasanton have become as furtive as Larry Craig meeting in the restrooms. People have gotten so uptight about dogs. And, we are made to feel that letting our dogs play and romp together is something filthy and dirty, that society scorns. And, I think the dog whisperer has validated this outlook, unfortunately.
I've seen the dog whisperer; and, although, some of what he says is true, I totally think he's out to lunch in regards to the leash thing. I can't believe his dogs are happy if they must be on a leash constantly. I've seen him on his property; and, he does seem to own land where they can run. Would he feel the same about leashes had he only a postage size backyard for his animal? Maybe he's just a control freak. That seems to be going around these days.
I'm just wondering why people have become so reactionary to all people with dogs, regardless of what they are doing or how they behave. Why are dog people and their animals not innocent until proven guilty? If people act responsibly and have their pets trained, I think it's wonderful if they can let the dog off the leash here and there where there are few people. Dogs are a sheer joy to watch romping and running. It's a delight to the spirit. And, in this world that we live in, there are a shrinking number of places where this can happen.
I fear for a civilization that is afraid of everything - a world that demonizes a running, happy, smiling dog. And, this is the world that I am beginning to see. People like me, who don't want to have an RFID implant, who have dogs who are let off the leash from time to time, who is willing to take personal responsibility for our animals behavior, we, are becoming a dying breed.
I see no children anymore in the natural areas of Pleasanton. They are locked in the houses playing horrific, vicious and mean video games. They are training to love war and to hate the natural world we live in. They have no opportunities to acquire any sensitivity to nature or it's creatures. They are told that the minute they see a dog, they need to roll into a ball and protect themselves from these terrible creatures. Gone are the days when children trooped off to create their own magical adventures. I remember playing Sheena, Queen of the Jungle and Tarzan and cowboys and Indians, etc.
I'm glad I'm getting old and will probably kick off soon. I had a magical childhood, where I got to hike into the hills with other children, by ourselves. And, when we saw the scary adults, we ran and laughed later on when we "got away." We knew which streets had the stray dogs that weren't friendly. But, we also knew where the dogs were who became our best friends.
At the age of 5, I use to go next door early in the morning, unbeknownst to my mother, and crawl into the big old wooden dog house of Rover, the dog who lived next door. There were lots of black widow spiders under the house there where Rover lived. I could've been bitten and died. But, I didn't. And, I'll always treasure my good old friend, Rover. My mother would let Rover guard me when I was a tot. She set me down in front of the house and Rover would stand beside me. An old Indian use to ride down the street on a horse every now and then, dressed in his traditional regalia. And, the junk man came by in a horse drawn wagon. This was in the Parkside/Oceanview district of San Francisco. Later, we moved to South San Francisco, near the cow farms that use to be Christianson's Dairy. We usually never jumped the fence, though, because of the sign that warned of a bull. We'd all read "Ferdinand the Bull," but, we weren't willing to find out whether these bulls were Ferdinand.
In the summer, I would spend a few weeks with my cousin in Boulder Creek. She use to delight in taking me into the woods and seeing me get lost. Somehow, I'd find my way back to her house. We also found resourceful pastimes, one of those involved collecting stray golf balls and sweeping the pee wee golf course for free games. Life was sweet. We'd go over to the stables and the stable hands had fun messing with us. They'd give us chores to do so we could ride the horses. Sometimes, they'd chase us and toss us in the manure pile and then, toss us in the water trough. It was terrible, but, we squealed with delight.
We heard of kids and some kids I knew had bad things happen. Some kid cut his leg falling down a hill, another kid got suffocated while building a cave, another caught his pants on fire playing with matches, and some kids we heard of got molested and some kids we didn't need to be told about. We could tell.
But, today, parents want to protect children from living life at all.
Making dogs into another boogie man doesn't guarantee that your child will be happy. If I could choose between avoiding scary dogs and letting my kid play horrific video games and be physically safe in my living room, I'd pick avoiding child molesters, dogs, and everything else to embrace life in all it's fullness. Yes, there are risks; but, life is nothing without them.
Most children today are on Paxil. It's no wonder. The adults have given them these horrible computer games as nannies and taken the experience of magic and wonder away from them. They walk outside and are like blind men without a cane.
If Rover had to be on a leash, I probably never would've known Rover. I would've never known the magic of waking up with my head buried in his soft fur. I'm glad my parents let me run out of the house and be gone for hours on end, doing who knows what. I'm glad I climbed trees and fell down cliffs, and scraped my knees, and ran away from creepy adults. And, it seems I'm still running. Hey, dog people, some of these folks are scared. So, if you have a scary dog, please leash it when you see them, so that they don't come unglued and get the lynch party out to get us. And, non-dog people. Can you somehow try and look at our side of things a little? If we leash our animals when you get close, isn't that good enough? Even though the dog is more interested in smelling the ground than bothering with you, we put them onto a leash and inconvenience their revery for you. Can't you make some kind of compromise? There is so little open space. All these joggers and bikers and everything. It is hard on us dog people too.