Every day I take my dog Tessa to the park. I usually take her off-leash so that I can work on her obedience training. She is a well-mannered dog that went through a prison training program before being put up for adoption at the Idaho Humane Society. Tessa also loves going to the park and catching her ball.....more than anything. The walk to the park is the perfect time to "top off" her training because she is so high motivated.
Now Boise does have a leash law and I'm not stupid. Boise is one of those cities where the cops aren't out to get you. The leash law is generally enforced in city parks. If your dog is under your control you should be good. I don't rush to leash her up just because a cop is around. I do, however, keep an eye out for things that might motivate her to break with her training, and if I can use these distractions as a training tool I do. Several things easily distract Tessa and I'm always on the lookout:
- Dogs- Tessa thinks all dogs are friendly and want to play
- Bicycles- Tessa hates some bicycles, usually ten-speed that make a particular whirring noise
- Pre-teens- She seems to not like kids in the 11-14 age group.
- Cats- She will chase after cats she doesn't know. If introduced she's cool unless she cannot recognize them.
The walk to the park is very short, two blocks. Tessa either heels or she walks a little bit in front of me. I have her trained to come to me quickly when called and a simple voice command tells her to slow down or stop if she is ranging too far ahead. She generally knows she cannot cross the street without permission, but twice in the last three years she has darted across to say "hi" to a dog. When I see something that might work Tessa up I clip on her leash and have her lay down next to me until the "threat" passes. Worst case she tries the fake bravado were she will growl and lunge a half step forward, unless she tries to chase a strange cat. Even then she will only go a few steps because I command her to come.
OK, enough backstory. Yesterday we are coming back from the park and she is trying to walk a couple feet ahead of me. She'll range a little farther at the beginning of the two-block walk back home because there is a house with a couple of friendly cats that she is always on the look-out for. The next house has a couple of Yorkies that warn their owner when Tessa walks by. She doesn't like that very much. As we work our way back home Tessa will slow down waiting for the command to cross the street. We stop at one of two houses at the end of our street (T-Intersection were it meets with the main neighborhood street) and I'm looking for traffic.
The house next door to the one I'm in front of has a English Bulldog tied up in the front yard and it is going absolutely nuts because of Tessa. She takes maybe two steps forward to look. At this point I could easily grab Tessa's tail she's so close. I call Tessa over to me, have her sit, and I again look for traffic. The street makes a sharp corner just a couple houses down and too many idiots drive too fast down that street so I have to double or triple check traffic. Out of nowhere some guy start screaming at me from inside his garage. The same house that has the bulldog tied up. At first he's screaming about my dog being aggressive towards his dog and he quickly launches into some gibberish about Boise's leash law. This guy is actually yelling......screaming at me.
Now this whole time his bulldog is still going nuts and Tessa is at my feet. When she gets scared or upset, like many dogs her fur gets ruffled up, but unlike many dogs it is a very small patch at the base of her tail. She's perfectly calm, which is more than I can say about me. I yell back at this asshole that I am well-aware of the leash law, I have my leash should I need it, and I'm working with my dog here. I point out my dog isn't acting aggressively here. Of course shouting begets more shouting and this guy starts threatening to call the cops. "What's your name!" I yell my name back and tell him I'm just three houses down. He shouts back that his dog, is "harmless and wouldn't hurt anyone". Even though I can see this snarling mass of dog still going off I reply something to the effect of I have yet to meet a mean bulldog.
This is true. Even though this dog looks anything but friendly, he's tied up and he sees another dog. Tessa thinks all dogs want to play with her and I wouldn't be surprised if this is just a case of another similar dog.
The neighbor all of a sudden becomes quiet, gets up, and walks over. He starts talking nice as can be about his lovely bulldog who just got neutered a couple weeks ago. He's the "sweetest thing" that "wouldn't hurt a fly" and just wants to play. This guy flipping like a switch has me on edge, but he's a big, as in old gym-rat, kind of guy and he's closed within striking distance. I'm motivated to keep things cool here. We try to introduce the dogs. Tessa is a bit worried, but not much, until the bulldog tries to attack her...twice. I was surprised when she snapped back at him because that is the first time since I got her 4 or 5 years ago that she's ever snapped at anything. I called her over to me and she complied readily.
The thing that gets me is at this point this guys other dog, a much older mixed breed, comes out to see what's going on. This dog doesn't have a leash on and is running about. Seriously? The neighbor has his kids take his bulldog into the house and he tries to chat me up with the "my dog never...." bit. When I tell him where Tessa got her initial training he tells me that he worked out at the prison....as a dog trainer.
What I'm getting out of all this is my neighbor is just certifiable, like 2 + 2 = orange type of crazy. Tessa and I go home and stop at my immediate neighbor's house to chat. This neighbor tells me that the one I just dealt with is pretty much a drunk, which explains a lot. We are avoiding that house from now on......
Welcome to my neighborhood.