Puppy Tales

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Well, to be absolutely accurate, big-snarling-mean dog tales…

I’ve been a dog owner most of my life and I live in a neighbourhood in Toronto that you cannot live in unless you have a dog (now that our dog is deceased, I’m sure we’ll be fined or get some by-law notice).  I am also a semi-faithful follower of The Dog Whisperer so let me preface this whole sad tale with one sentence:  “I know better.”

My husband and I, when we can, enjoy a nice ramble on a Sunday morning.  Frankly, it’s our only time to get out of the house alone and have conversations with complete sentences.  We wander down quiet streets to our favourite coffee shop on Queen and then we usually go down to the lake and walk along the beach.  This past Sunday, we were both feeling a bit pressed for time (sad, on a Sunday) and hungover.  We got our coffees and immediately headed back up the enormous hill for home.

As usual along the way, we encountered about 20 dogs and their owners all out enjoying a rare moment or two of dry weather.  Also as usual, we stopped to admire and pet at least half of said dogs.  Unless the dog’s owner pulls them away, we don’t think anything of petting a neighbourhood dog – even though we should.  Again, intellectually, we know better.

We have always told our kids “Don’t pet a strange dog unless you ask the owner first.  If there’s no owner, no touch.”

Sigh.

Across the street from our block is a neighbourhood coffee house (the coffee is bitter, we don’t go).  There are always dogs tied up out front.  On this particular morning, we saw a large Beagle mix sitting quietly outside the door; no owner in sight.  Without thinking, my husband reached out his hand…and nearly lost it.  I am not afraid of dogs and as I’ve said, I’ve owned them all my life but I have never seen a dog go from Jekyll to Hyde as fast as this one did.  I do not exaggerate when I say I ran home screaming…or nearly.

What I should have done, instead of running scared to my house was go inside and find the dog’s owner and inquire as to why this creature disguised as a passive doe-eyed mutt was allowed to sit outside a neighbourhood coffee house with no muzzle on.  Granted, we were at fault, we should’ve known better BUT what if my husband had been, say, a 5 year old child instead of a grown man?  That dog’s teeth would’ve not only found a small hand but probably a little face as well.  Children do not always think when they see a dog and some children act before a parent can remind.  If that had been the case with this dog, it would’ve been too late.

My husband, when he found his voice, had little to say about the incident.  I regret not going back to the coffee house.  I should’ve but I was too rattled.  I would’ve yelled at the dog owner and then I would’ve given the dog a piece of my mind as well.  To his credit, he did look ashamed of himself afterward.  He was probably mortified that his owner would go to a coffee house that sells bitter coffee.  Maybe he wanted to be tied up outside Starbucks where all the pretty dogs go to be seen.  I just hope he didn’t end up taking a chunk out of a toddler later in the morning.

Now when I’m out for a bit of a walk, I look differently at the dogs that pass me by.  I give them a few more inches on the sidewalk than I did before.  Maybe I should’ve all along.  I feel sad about this turn of events but I’m grateful that my husband still has his hand.

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