One of my favorite things about Chicago is that it’s a dog friendly city. Harlow goes everywhere with me. We go shopping, to the bank, the dry cleaner, the bar… basically everywhere. And when we go on walks he knows all of the treat stops and will wait patiently (not patiently at all) for me to get a treat from the jar for him.
Given that Chicago is so dog friendly, on any given walk we’ll pass by at least ten other dogs. When it’s nice outside, it could be twenty. Which is wonderful, until we get that owner who insists their dog “just wants to say hi.”
Harlow would not hurt a fly. In fact, he’s actually scared of moths (my fault, he senses my fear.) His other fears include shampoo bottles, bubble wrap, statues, and mustard. He’s an odd duck…
But he’s an animal and he does show aggression from time to time. And those times are always when he’s on leash. Because I spend every waking hour with Harlow, I know him inside and out. And you might think I’m crazy, but I can distinguish between every single bark, growl, and ear movement he makes.
So when we’re walking on leash and a big dog approaches, I see him move back toward me and put his ears down in a way that tells me a. he’s nervous and b. he’s insecure. (No matter how much I tell Harlow he’s the best, he does suffer from some major insecurities. Don’t we all, though?)
Anyway. I know my dog so I simply take him out of any situation that might not go over well. His leash aggression didn’t start until he was about four, but it’s here now and I can’t seem to break it. So when we see another dog approach, we cross the street. If we can’t cross the street we move beside a car. Or into the alley. It’s not a huge issue because there’s always a lot of options.
There’s options until the other dog owner takes them away. Which brings me to part two of this post.
Last week Harlow and I were minding our own business, having a jolly ass walk as we usually do, when I noticed a medium sized dog up ahead. We were on a busy street I couldn’t cross and there was already another dog in the alley, so we waited. And then suddenly the dog from ahead came barreling our way. The owner had it on one of those extendable leashes (which don’t get me started on those… in the city that’s just not smart) Harlow and I literally had nowhere to turn and the owner was just smiling and shouted,
“It’s okay! She’s friendly. She just wants to say hi!”
Well what about my dog? Harlow is not friendly (on leash.) And now we’re in a shitty situation because a dog we don’t know “just wants to say hi.”
And you can see this is also where I get pretty grumpy because it happens a lot.
I tried to keep my cool, but as the dog got closer and no attempt to stop it was being made I got a little snappy and said, “can you please get your dog back? Mine doesn’t do well on leash.” Then of course the owner got all pissy at the growly person (me) and the growly dog (Harlow) and made a half ass attempt to pull her dog back, but not before I had to quickly step between the two dogs.
I don’t like being bitchy toward other dog owners. They’re my people. But why is it so hard to understand that not all dogs “want to say hi?”
The other thing that happens quite a bit is people will actually step aside and wait for Harlow and I to get close to them. And if I can’t cross the street for whatever reason I’ll have to ask, “can we pass by you?” And they’ll respond, “Oh we just want to say hi…”
Okay. But we don’t.
And then me and Harlow are the grumpy duo as the other dog owner looks put off and begrudgingly walks away. But we don’t want to be the grumpers!
The worst is when people say shitty things to me about it like, “I thought all Vizslas were friendly dogs?” …. I’ve had this one more than once from people in my neighborhood. That’s like saying, “I thought all humans were friendly people?” Some of us are. Some of us aren’t. And some of us just don’t do good on leash.
If you’re someone who has one of those happy go-lucky dogs who just wants to say hi to every other dog, I’m envious. I love that dog. But know that all of us aren’t so lucky. We’re not walking away because we don’t like you, we’re doing what’s best for our dog.
And now to end with a photo of Harlow being “walked” by his toddler cousin, Timber, because this photo kills me.
For your weekend reading I also suggest you check out Harlow’s Guide To Chicago, as told by Harlow.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Give your pups the playtime they deserve.