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Am I a pet Nazi?

August 13th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Everything

I’ve been irritated in the past by my neighbors who don’t use leashes with their dogs.

This has lead me to wonder if in my old age (all things being relative, of course) I’ve become more rigid and crotchety.   I suppose I should back up and give some background on what it is I’m talking about.

There are people living next to us who have several small dogs of various breeds.  As animal lovers, we’ve certainly got no problem with the dogs themselves, they only do the things that dogs do.  Some of these dogs are what I would call the “yappy” type.  To give an example, I am virtually assured that if I walk outside to my mailbox to get the mail, I’ll be hearing some serious yapping from the neighbor’s dogs, whether they’re in the house or out.  If they’re outside, it’s quite likely that they’ll run towards me while yapping, presumably in an attempt to remove me from their environment.  It works, because I continue walking, as I have no interest in a confrontation with the yappy dogs.  It’s worth mentioning that the dogs are never on leash.  If the owners are present, they’ll usually scold the dogs which rarely has any effect on the barking.  I suspect it may in fact reinforce the bad behavior, cause it gets them attention, but I digress.

When we brought our German Shepherd/Rottweiler puppy home, one of the neighbors said something along the lines of “you got a dog to eat our dogs!” which of course was far from the truth, but interestingly it sort of acknowledged the tension that existed between us involving their dogs.  In fact, our desire to get a puppy was very independent of any influence our neighbors could exert, but that’s another story.  We were outside with Gretel on leash quite a bit those first few months, as we learned all about potty training and such, and we hadn’t yet fenced our back yard.  Any time we took our girl out, she was on leash.  One of the first times we went out for a bike ride, on our return we were met by the yapping yappers, which was quite disturbing to me, and almost certainly didn’t help the confidence of our somewhat fearful puppy who was on leash.  This sort of thing has happened time after time over the past 2 years, and one of the constants in the picture is that the neighbor’s dogs are never on leash, which means they are free to express themselves in my yard in as rude a fashion as they feel is appropriate.

Does anybody else have neighbors like this?  Part of me thinks having set the “good example” for 2 years with a leash on every excursion into the front yard should be enough to send a signal that the neighborly thing to do is to keep your pet by your side.  The few conversations I’ve had with the neighbors about this have generally not gone well.  When it finally came to carrying one of the dogs home to the owner after it snuck into my now fenced-in back yard, I felt compelled to suggest to the owner that a leash would be a good way to keep a dog in one’s sight.  I was frustrated, and couldn’t understand why they didn’t “get it”.

I’d be curious to hear other opinions on this, am I a Nazi?

Garbage truck curveball

August 2nd, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Everything

Yesterday morning, Gretel and I went for our bike ride and for the first time encountered a garbage truck.

Big and noisy, I guess it’s a lot different from the cars and trucks we normally see on our rides.

We were on our way down the hill, and the truck was on its way up the hill, in retrospect I wish I’d handled it a little better, because Gretel was clearly freightened by the thing.  I kept moving, and she tried to stay back, but with me in motion, she’s learned that she’s gotta keep moving too.  If I could do it over again, I suppose I’d try going much slower, and have some treats on hand.

Part of me is glad that she wants to be far away from the truck, but another part of me wish she wasn’t afraid.

I suppose the experts would probably call it “flooding”, when forcing the dog to confront things that they’re afraid of.  That’s not at all what I want to do.

I wonder if I should look for another opportunity to desensitize her to the truck (perhaps gain some redemption), or if it would be better to avoid close proximity to truck(s) at all cost, knowing that fear of big heavy things can be a good thing…  Hmmm….  Stay tuned!