Be like Tyler and Pete - be Responsible
“The people who make the biggest difference are the ones that do the little things consistently.”
I was riding my bike on a local, multi-use trail when I came up on a man and his dog walking the trail together. The dog was snuffling the ground beside the trail about 10 feet from his owner. As the man saw me coming, he called his dog to him and clipped on a leash. I nodded and said hello as I went past. I peddled on a short way, before it dawned on me that what I had just witnessed was a small action that had left a big impact.
I had just witnessed a dog owner being considerate.
Now, I'm well aware that there are plenty of considerate dog owners in our communities, but it is typically the ones that are not so polite that we pay attention to.
So I turned my bike around and went back to express my appreciation. The dog owner’s name was Tyler. He and I chatted a bit about responsible pet ownership, and I got to meet his lovely border collie, Pete. Pete is ten years old and from what I could tell, his public manners were impeccable. Given that Tyler has the foresight to leash up his dog when he sees other people on the trail, I assume his responsible attitude traveled down leash and he had put in some training time with Pete at some point in the past.
I told Tyler about Aware Pet Owner and the mission of improving communities by educating citizens on how to safely and respectfully share public areas with companion animals. And I thanked him for being such a great representation of a responsible dog owner. He confessed he was a bit concerned when I had peddled back and asked if I could speak with him. He thought maybe I was going to yell at him for something. As a dog owner myself, I know how that is. Some people resent pets in any public location and they aren’t afraid to let you know it whether you’re causing a problem or not.
But Tyler and Pete were certainly not causing any problems. And even though Pete was a super calm and friendly dog, Tyler was considerate enough to leash him up whenever other people were nearby. That is a key distinction that makes a HUGE difference in how well received dogs are in public places. People don’t want to (and should not have to) encounter off leash dogs wandering up to them.
You see, the problem is, often times when people own friendly, social dogs they assume their off leash dog will not be an issue because they feel confident the dog will not harm anyone by jumping or nipping.
But the dog being social and friendly isn’t the point. The point is how others perceive your dog.
Do passers by WANT to be intruded upon? What if that person has a severe allergy? Or perhaps they have a fear of dogs… whether that seems rational or not to you does not matter.
Is it polite or responsible to expect every other dog you come upon to be just as social and friendly as yours and therefore let your dog stroll up into uninvited space?
Other people (or dogs) SHOULD NOT HAVE TO FEEL CONCERNED that your dog may wander up to them.
We know that a leash does not guarantee a dog will be in control. But, a leash does provide visual peace of mind for many people, and THAT is what matters.
Being an Aware Pet Owner means being thoughtful of those around you and how they may feel about your dog’s presence.
Thank you Tyler and Pete for being awesome and responsible!