1 December 2012


They don't always need to be made public and they don't always need to be aired to the person you're focusing on. An evening this week was one of those occasions.

I love my dog dearly but some days he can be a real pain in the backside. He is not like normal dogs, he chases his tail regularly, he licks your feet for attention, he sits and fixes you with a stare until you take notice of him and if you're reading a book, do it with him out of the room because he will sit between your legs and push his nose up under the bottom of the book and flip the book out of your hands with his nose. He falls over when cleaning himself regularly, gets up and promptly does it again. He's just a little bit special in the head. 

I'm down South visiting family at the moment and the weather is horrendous, we have had rain upon rain upon rain upon more rain so my poor dog didn't get to go out for four days this week, by the fifth day he was jumping out of his skin and it was time to brave the elements. This is a dog who gets at least an hour off the lead in open space every day, usually two or three hours. He really was feeling itchy feet from being cooped up so I wrapped up, put his coat on and we set out down to the town and the park. As he hadn't been out for four days it was like he'd been pumped up with speed. He was a nightmare, not very very bad but when he is full of energy he behaves (I'm not joking here) like a horse, he sort of jogs and is on his toes and his attention and head is on everything but me. This is not a good thing and I have to work really hard to keep his attention on me so he sits and waits at roadsides and doesn't randomly walk out when he decides he's had enough of waiting, he is prone to do that so I have to watch him and keep my senses on him. I have to think of it before he does and be ready, there's times he's jumped a mile high from a loud noise and yanked my arm back with his nerves and fright. He's a very good boy but he is also highly strung, mainly because he is not your typical docile dog but because his breed are notorious for being a bit touched in the head.

I'd finally got him going well and listening to me when we stopped in town and I commanded him to sit and wait while we waited for the road to become clear. All of a sudden he jumped in the air and went to leap forward as two dogs had come round the corner and gone mad at the sight of him. It wasn't his fault at all but when it is dark, rainy and he's only in a small hi-viz coat and me in a pale coloured coat, it doesn't give you much confidence that any motorist will A. See you both and B. Stop in time on wet and slimy roads.

He is a strong, young and big dog. I am 4'11, he comes up to the middle of my thigh when stood on four legs, when stood on his hindlegs he is near to 5'6 or so at full stretch. That's a lot of body to go out of control and flip and that's a lot to control when it's a bundle of muscle on the end of lead living on it's nerves. 99% of the time he will walk with me on a loose lead and sit and behave but there are times he is over-excited and gets too big for his boots. He can be a horror and I refuse to have him rule me or put us both at risk by roadsides or be a general pest. He will come to call, he will sit and wait for his dinner until told he can have it (as in he waits until I've finished dishing up before he dives for it), he will sit and wait until told to go when his clip on his lead is taken off (I don't want to end up with a broken finger/wrist/arm or be dragged halfway across the park because he's made the choice of when he'll take off at the speed of light) and other mannerly behaviours, either because they make life more pleasant or safer for the both of us. One thing I won't tolerate in any form is him spinning about on the end of his lead barking and sniffing all over other people. I wouldn't let any child of mine grab somebody I didn't know so why would I let my dog bark and sniff them all over just because I pass them in the street?

I was hard with him and had to get his attention in a split-second so raised my voice at him to sit and then put my hand on his head to reassure him. All the while these horrible dogs behind him are snarling and straining at their leads. 
Both me and my dog managed to cross the road when suddenly I hear a voice behind me say "You there, with the dog! What do you think you're doing abusing that animal when all he is doing is behaving like a dog? You don't deserve animals, how dare you shout at him! You disgust me, people like you make me sick. We don't own animals, they are ours to borrow while on this earth, that poor animal deserves better!".

Obviously, you only have my word I didn't beat him black and blue and didn't scream blue murder at him but trust me, if ever there was a dog who loved human company then it is him. He would get in my bed if he could and whines if I have the cheek to go out of his sight!

For a split-second I was struck dumb by this tirade and then decided that no, I wasn't going to just stand there and take it. Particularly not as this woman's dogs were still straining and snarling at their leads all the time she is letting her mouth off at me.

For a second or two I stood and listened and then my response formulated and I managed to get it all out in one coherent (ish) statement.

"Excuse me? I do not wish to have any kind of interaction with you but as you're so keen on it, I'll explain why I'm 'abusing' my dog. I have had my dog for three years, for three years I've been sole handler pretty much. I know him inside out and back to front, I know how he is likely to react to a situation and I was right earlier on when he tried to launch himself in to space thanks to your two dogs bad and unsociable behaviour. Would you prefer it if I'd simply let him flip himself in to the road and let him take me with him? Would that have satisfied your hippy and liberalist views on animal discipline and love? I love my dog but not at the cost of our lives. One minute in his life of me raising my voice at him is not abuse, it's discipline for the safety of both of us. You are now taking valuable time from his walk so would you kindly keep your opinions to yourself and look at how your own dogs have behaved in these last few minutes compared to how mine has behaved? Goodbye"

I see her regularly round here when I'm down, I cannot wait for the next time to see if she dares to try and belittle me again because next time I will just walk away and she will be left looking the fool.

How dare she judge how I treat my dog on just a snapshot in time, a five second clip of his life with me when I had to get his attention quickly. How dare she accuse me of not loving him, of not deserving him and taking my bad temper out on him. Anyone who knows me and him know he is my dog purely because of how he behaves with me, he's my shadow and if allowed to, will sleep outside my bedroom door and not move until I've come out of the room, he'll run round like a lunatic on walks but will come straight back to me on walks when I call him (well, 99% of the time he will!).

So how dare somebody who doesn't know me at all except by sight on occasions make such a judgement, during her airing of views, my dog stuck to me like glue and had his hackles up but apparently, that was because he was frightened of me.

Even when I'd walked away she still decided to let her mouth off and shout at me. I won't search trouble out but I also won't be intimidated and walked over, particularly not by somebody who has no idea of who I am.

On the upside, I went to see friends in Bath last week and my dog is so well behaved and so good with me that he stuck out a two hour train journey, a walk round the streets and one dog-friendly park in the middle of Bath, a visit to the doorstep of a coffee shop (coffee for me, biscuit for him) sat at a road crossing while I had coffee in one hand and him in the other and then walked like a gent when the time came to cross, Besides all that he behaved like a complete gentleman on the station platform, through a change and crowds of people at Bristol Temple Meads and on to the next train. In seven hours of leaving the house he did not let me down once and I had compliments from complete strangers on what a lovely and well-behaved dog he is and also, how lovely it was to see a dog not only so well behaved but also so trusting and loving of the person with it. 

I have nothing to prove but I did need a rant here ;-).

On a completely different note, I love this track this week :-). 

This is the complete studio version and the lyrics below I hold dear for reasons I don't need to explain right now :-). 

Your eyes they tie me down so hard
I'll never learn to put up a guard
So keep my love, my candle bright
Learn me hard, oh learn me right

This ain't no sham

I am what I am

Though I may speak some tongue of old

Or even spit out some holy word
I have no strength from which to speak
When you sit me down, and see I'm weak
And I was broke, I was on my knees

And you said yes as I said please
Do not let my fickle flesh go to waste
As it keeps my heart and soul in its place
And I will love with urgency but not with haste 


cogidubnus said...

Oh dear...I'm afraid you must be a good deal less coherent than I am then...the phrase "Shut the fuck up you ignorant whore" comes ever so easily to me...

There are times when good manners are NOT appropriate!

Every good wish


JR said...

Good for you. How dare the ignorant bitch criticise your dog handling. As she says, dogs are dogs and should be treated as such rather than furry children or mobile soft toys but it sounds like you are a near text book example. It's a shame she doesn't follow her own advice more.

You're dog sounds like quite a character in true Setter fashion. A friend of mine had one she affectionately described as 'dottier than a leopard with measles' who managed to set himself on fire by shuffling up just a bit too close to the embers of a fire while he was asleep.

Hope you enjoyed the rest of the walk at least.


Girl*Next*Door said...

Cogs, I shouldn't but I'm laughing at that! :-D :-O. I bite my tongue when situations like this come along as I find swearing at people gives them ammunition and it's not worth it. However, I was thinking it and then some :-O :-D xx.

JR, I wouldn't say I'm text book with H but I do my best by him and he's come out of it okay so that's good enough for me. The problem is, he can be tricky so he does need firm boundaries and I hate it when people decide they know enough to pass comment on an animal or owner who they've known for two seconds. I've had similar criticism with handling my horse but what the person criticising didn't realise was had I let my horse get away with what she was doing (attempting to walk backwards rather than forwards as an evasion tactic) she'd have ended up with her legs in a ditch. Apparently, by using my leg and whip as encouragement, not kicking her and not hitting her with the whip, I was 'beating' her which couldn't be further from the truth. It just incenses me when people pass judgement and comment so easily on something they couldn't possibly have any idea about :-/.

Anyway, I hope you've both had a lovely Christmas :-) xx.

cogidubnus said...

My Christmas has been great GND, as indeed I hope yours was. Happy New Year for 2013 and I hope at least some of your hopes and aspirations come to fruition!

All the very best


JR said...

Christmas was lovely thanks. How was yours? Hope Santa was good to you.

A couple of animal related questions for you:

You posted some pictures of H with your rabbit. Is it a house rabbit? If so are you living in a rented house? If you are did you have to negotiate with the landlord. In case you hadn't worked out my motives; the Mrs and I are trying to adopt a house rabbit from the local animal sanctuary. The landlord isn't too keen at the moment but is going to meet with us and have a chat about it so any winning techniques from someone who has gone before us would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, all the best for the New Year.