Mama here today, to vent a bit of the frustrations of having little dogs (under 25 pounds) in a rural area, where big dogs are prevalent, and the effect it has had on me.
I want to start off by saying I love dogs....all dogs...big or little, chihuahua or pittie. I am against any state or country banning a dog because of its breed. That being said, I am not a big "neglectful dog owner" lover. This would be the owner who swears his 120 pound dog is friendly and that it had "never" gone after a little dog before; the owner who allows their dog off leash while not under direct supervision; or the owner who lets their dog run free on the beach more than 100 yards in front of them where there is little to no chance of recall, simply because the dog would not be able to hear them because of the roaring surf.
As you who read our blog frequently may notice, Arty has not been to "his beach" lately. In fact he hasn't been on a walk there in almost two years, because of an unfortunate incident that occurred. Arty, my husband and I were heading back to the car after a routine beach walk when Arty (who was leashed) was charged by a very large dog (who was not leashed). I won't give the breed, but it was not the first you would assume (it was not a Pittie). I had to fall and envelope Arty in order to save him from being mauled. I did not blame the dog, some dogs are prey driven and Arty is an 18 pound black and white furry animal. I DO BLAME THE CAREGIVER. In this case, it was a dog sitter who had 2 other dogs, NONE of which were leashed. I wish I could say this was not the norm here in our beautiful corner of the world, but sadly it is. This was the first time something like this had ever happened to me in over ten years of dog ownership (including fostering several large dogs), and it has affected me deeply.
I guess you could say it has affected the pack too, because they rarely go hiking with me anymore. I am afraid I am putting their lives in danger by taking them out on the trails. I frequently see dogs off leash, running free and not being watched. I had a feeling that I am turning into one of those "Sissy Dog Mamas" who dotes on her babies (OK...so I may be one of those anyway :-) and won't let them socialize with other pups. But that's just not true. I had no problem bringing Dory to meet Murphy and Stanley, because I knew their parents were responsible dog owners. I have no problem bringing my pups to the BAR this summer for the same reason. Unfortunately, I had another episode happen yesterday morning, this time with Dory.
Dory and I took a ride to a scenic area to do a photo shoot for what was going to be a lighthearted post today. It was a beautiful day, and we were both looking forward to getting out for a bit after all the recent rains. We had a great photo shoot and we had fun sitting and watching the ocean. While gathering up my gear, a VERY BIG dog (unleashed) came up nearby stairs leading up from the beach and charged at Dory (who was leashed). I had time to scoop Dory up and quickly walked toward my car while talking soothingly to both Dory and the dog (again, it's not the dog's fault, this breed can be very prey driven). When I was halfway to the car the owner stumbled up the stairs. He was all apologies and "My dog has never done anything like this before". I got Dory to the car safely and drove away, but again I have been traumatized.
...and here, I guess, lies the problem...
Is it me that has been traumatized? I still feel safe around big dogs. I have no issues whatsoever loving on big dogs that I know, or even giving head scritchies to the pups I meet while I am out hiking by myself. But if I have one of my pack out for a walk, I will scoop them up whenever we approach a bigger dog, even if that dog is leashed. Do I stop taking my small dogs out on local "adventures" because I am the one that is scared? Arty has developed "small dog syndrome" since his big dog run in, but then again, could that my anxiety that he senses?
I would never get over it if something happened to one of our pack if one of these type of encounters ended badly. For now, I have settled into taking the dogs for walks only in our neighborhood and occasionally taking Dory or Arty out for photo shoots on location. Now, after this morning's episode, even these outings are becoming frightening.
Thank you for listening. I know this is out of character for our blog, but I trust your opinions and any input you may have on the situation. I know that not only is this a community of animal lovers, but a community of responsible dog owners. I also wonder if some of you may also have little dogs in big dog country.