Right, this is a blog entry that’s going to annoy a lot of people. But I’m very annoyed. So here goes.
I’m totally, utterly and completely sick of dog owners.
Note I am not completely and utterly sick of dogs. I’m not unfriendly towards animals. A dog is a dog. It craps. It barks. It snarls. It chases things. It pees everywhere to mark territory. That’s just how dogs are.
The problem is then with what dog owners do about that.
In the last two weeks I have been doing a lot of sport – running almost every day and yesterday skating along the canal towpath between Delacroix and Buizingen. Dogs and runners / skaters don’t mix very well as dogs think that the runner or skater is some kind of rival, something to be chased and, because it’s going fast it must be either a threat to the dog or it’s something to chase after.
Yesterday was a particular low point when a dog owner let a rather fat boxer dog off its leash and it chased me for more than 200m, snarling the whole way. Thankfully good fitness, 105mm wheels and ceramic bearings in my skates meant I could out-skate the dog. But this is not acceptable. If the dog owner knows his hound is going to chase and endeavour to attack things then the dog must be kept on a leash. It’s not my responsibility to try to predict what someone else’s dog is going to do.
Same in Parc Duden where I run. Loads of dog walkers, all ambling along in large groups, blocking the pathways while nattering away, and completely oblivious to the fact that their dogs go for runners and crap all over the place. Get a grip! Control your damned animals! When I gesticulate and comment to dog owners (in French) they look at me as if I’m from another planet.
Here’s the deal folks. As a skater or a runner I don’t bother you at all if you just have a little spatial awareness and give me about half a metre of space on the 4 metre wide path. Just enough space for me to pass. That’s all. Nothing else. Oh, and the knowledge that your dog is not going to try to attack me, or crap where I am going to run or skate. It’s not that hard, is it?