In fear of small dog owners
Sometimes, certain dog owners don’t see the appeal of a larger animal
Article by Andy Barnham
I’m not sure when it happened. I used to think all small dogs were cute and lovely and then suddenly they weren’t. Now I live in virtual fear of small dogs and their owners. There wasn’t any one, specific, incident that changed my opinion, but a recent adventure has certainly reinforced my sense of apprehension.
In support of small dogs, the first dog Gypsy ever played with was an Italian Greyhound. Gypsy regularly gets run ragged by her best friend who is a small, and fearless, Beagle that is half her size. And lastly, as Gypsy is now close to 40kgs; most dogs are small in comparison. The owners of the Greyhound and the Beagle are sociable and while I wouldn’t consider them to be close friends, they are good natured enough that we arrange play dates with the dogs. My neighbour, who is a friend, has three small dogs and there are no problems there. That said, the dog owners who have set my teeth on edge the most, have been small dog owners.
When Gypsy was smaller she ran out the house, down the road and only stopped because she needed a moment to herself; luckily the road was empty and my heart attack at her escape was manageable. A small dog and its owner were walking the other way, and watched events unfold. As they passed I heard to owner say to himself, ‘Call yourself a dog owner? Come near me and I’ll knock you out.’ My priority was Gypsy, so I dismissed the comments and thought the owner nothing more than an unfortunate fashion victim (I’ve never been a fan of the trainers, tracksuit bottoms, a t-shirt and baseball cap look).
It was not long after this that Gypsy was aggressively attacked by a two year old black cocker- spaniel. And the rationale behind the assault? ‘She doesn’t like black Labs.’ When it was pointed out that Gypsy is not a Labrador, the small dog owner was shocked and said that I shouldn’t have an illegal breed. For the record Gypsy is not an illegal breed, though quite why and how a small dog owner thinks it is acceptable for their dog to attack a puppy is beyond me.
The next incident was when Gypsy decided to play with a small dog who’s owner was walking towards a road. While Gypsy’s recall is usually very good, sometimes her sociable nature and exuberance get the better of her and she doesn’t come back as promptly as she should. In this instance the small dog owner, who had turned and seen Gypsy playing with her dog, was consumed by her mobile phone conversation and took no action. It was only after I caught Gypsy and the conversation came to an end that the small dog owner then suddenly became concerned about the road which she had deliberately walked towards and the safety of her own charge.
Which brings me to recent events. Gypsy has just finished her first heat cycle. For her sanity and the safety of my home, I don’t want to keep her confined to the house and a walk seemed like a good idea. Step one, find a part of the Common that doesn’t have dogs; tick. Step two, bring Gypsy home safely at the end of the walk; cue small dog owner. As her small three dogs crowded around Gypsy, I heard from the owner, ‘It’s irresponsible for you to take your dog outside when she’s in season.’ My reply of ‘Thank you for your advice’ seemed to catch the owner’s tongue who obviously had been expecting an argument. ‘You’re irresponsible. You should keep her inside,’ she repeated. My initial patience started to waver, ‘Just trying to take her for a walk and get some fresh air.’ ‘You should have taken your dog to a part of the Common which is empty; like over there,’ she continued, pointing to a section over my shoulder. ‘That section which is full of people playing rugby?’ I asked. It was at this stage that I managed to put the lead on Gypsy and head for home. How did the conversation with the small dog owner finish? ‘I can’t hear you,’ was their final comment. And what had this small dog owner done to stop or control her pack while offering advice? Absolutely nothing.