Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Menace

"It's not the dogs I'm afraid of," I told Duncan as we crossed Bowles on our way back home from the park. "It's their people."

The people with the German Shepherds are regulars at the park and we've seen them nearly every night for as long as I can remember. They are handsome dogs, with long, lean bodies, strangely low hips and high heads. They move swiftly and quietly, running far before their masters, circling back and coming up behind them with their noses low and their shoulders moving quickly. Their owners take them off leash and stroll slowly across the paths, but are careful to notice when other dogs are near. They need only call and the shepherds are at their sides where they can quickly be leashed.

We have met them several times before, none of which has gone well. The man, a short, squarish fellow has been quick to point out that Chance, the big, blond male, does not like other males and to keep Duncan away from him. His companion, a woman who seems to match him in shape and size, restrains the female, who doesn't seem to mind males, she says, provided they "don't have all their parts," and yet every time we approach the female has growled menacingly and/or snapped suddenly and violently. I am extremely uncomfortable by their presence in the park each night, running free among the shadows the way they do. The dogs obey very well, but the distance with which they run away from their people is disturbing, especially when you consider how quickly things can happen. It's obvious these people know their dogs should not be trusted around other dogs because they're always careful to leash them when other dogs are present, even going so far as to warn people, as they have me, several times. And yet Duncan and I practically bumped into them tonight. Luckily the dogs were close and easily restrained. I hate to think what would've happened had they been darting ahead as they typically do. A few nights ago we came upon them from behind and I didn't recognize them at all because they were dogless, until they saw Duncan. When they turned and saw us, on their hills, they man called "Chance!" who appeared quickly from up ahead, spotted us and tried to sidestep his master but was snagged by a long arm and reeled in while we passed around them.

Tonight the female snapped at Duncan, catching him on the snout, scratching his nose and leaving a welt. I was quick to pull him out of her way and immediately yelled at the dog. The woman looked a little taken aback by the way I chastised her dog, but if she's going to allow her to bite my dog's face, I'm not going to remain quiet and passive when it happens. I tightened Duncan's leash in my hand as I guided him around them down the sidewalk but we were no more than twenty feet away when both dogs were released from their leashes, which, again, made me extremely nervous. What if they'd both circled around and attacked?

I've decided I'm calling Littleton Animal Control tomorrow and reporting the incident. I did some research and confirmed what I've always knows, that Clement Park requires the use of a leash at all times. I don't mind that people take their dogs off leash–hell, I do it almost every night. I do mind that these people are aware of their dogs' hostility to other dogs and still unleash. I'm also gong to speak to them the next time I see them, just to let them know that their dogs needs to be leashed at all times, especially because they're menacing. After all, they're not the only ones trying to enjoy the park.

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