Dog Park Politics

It’s probably pretty obvious by now that I’m what some may call a “cat person”. I love cats. I love all animals. But I love cats. They hold a special place in my heart, even the troubled ones. And so I am biased. I’ll admit that straight up.

Every day (weather permitting) Emory and I take a walk through Mcgolrick Park. There’s a dog park right by the Driggs street entrance. We usually enter there, loop around, hit the playground for a bit and then loop back around and exit through the Driggs street entrance. We always walk by the dog park and I’ll stop for a couple of minutes to show Em the dogs. He’s so used to being around cats, I figured it’s best to introduce him to a couple of the other 5,000 plus species of mammals. I’ve introduced him to Penn State bunnies, Mcgolrick Park squirrels, and several Brooklyn dogs. He’s also met a few birds, which he speaks to by grunting.

Yesterday was not unlike every other day except that the sky threatened us with dark clouds. The ground was wet as were the swings so we were unable to hang out in the playground. I spent a few extra minutes watching the dogs instead.

I don’t know a lot about dogs or dog parks because I haven’t ever owned a dog. I do spectate, however. When I worked in the city and Tobyjoe and I rode our bikes to work, we’d meet every single day at the Union Square dog park where I’d watch the dogs interact with one another. I can’t tell you what breed of dog believes in which law of butt-sniffing, or whom agrees with whom, but I get the feeling that a dog park holds more political heat than all the goings on on Capitol Hill.

There are the big dogs, the little dogs, the older dogs, the dogs that hump, the dogs that run from humping dogs. There are the dogs that avoid all other dogs. There are the dogs that want to hang out with all other dogs. There are friendly dogs, mean-looking dogs, dumb looking dogs and there are smelly dogs. There are dogs that cower, dogs that bark a lot, dogs that do nothing but run. There are dogs that want to just go home already! And there always seems to be one or two dogs that make all other dogs (and me) nervous, like, you just never know what they’ll do if you look at them the wrong way.

And so yesterday whenever the medium-sized white dog attacked the brown dog by going right for its throat, I very nearly threw up from the stomach acid that bubbled up from my belly. And Emory had no idea what was going on. Suddenly, angry barks filled the playground and all hell broke lose. Little dogs ran in the opposite direction from the fight. The owners (two hipster couples) tried desperately to pry their dogs apart with very little luck. It took an uncomfortably long time for the man from one couple to pull his white dog from the brown dog. And all the while the male owner of the brown dog screamed, “NO!!! NOO!!!! NOOO!!!!” at the top of his lungs. And they weren’t commands, he was pleading with whomever would listen. He was begging into thin air, trying to reason with angry dogs.

With humans, unless there’s a weapon involved, a fight doesn’t usually end in death. The way these dogs instantly went for the jugular, meant business and their business was with death.

I was stuck there, in space, watching. I couldn’t close my mouth, look away; I couldn’t move. It was terrifying, a truly horrific experience, one that brought tears to my eyes, one that will continue to haunt me for days.

Does this happen often at dog parks? Do owners constantly have to look out for the potentially troubled animal? Does the owner of the potentially troubled dog know that they’re dog could very well freak out at any given moment? Do owners of small dogs worry whenever a larger dog comes around? Are there people who avoid the dog park altogether because they worry about fighting? Are these things dog owners know instinctively or do they learn over time?

Yesterday’s incident was the second dog park dogfight I have seen in two weeks. The first one was less horrific because the owner of the dog being attacked was able to scoop his pup up before the other dog got a firm hold. That owner then promptly turned to the other couple and said, “Get your dog out of this park right now!”

Three weeks ago, I was out for a jog and I saw a dog suddenly stand up from a blanket and tackle a toddler who was running around with his mother in the park. The toddler was knocked down hard enough to warrant one of those silent screams. And the couple just yelled for the dog to return to their blanket. I would never hurt any animal, but if that had been my son, I am not sure what I would have done to that couple.

Either way, Em and I are going to have to find some other way to learn about dogs. Their unpredictable nature scares me too much.

And I’m reminded of why I don’t think I want one right now.

Edited to add: I am not anti-dog. I don’t have a huge amount of time to reread and edit my thoughts today sadly. I realize that’s irresponsible of me. Sorry, folks! I have tried to clear up any possible miscommunication in the comments section.


  1. My husband and I have a Chow Chow named Coco. He is sweet as pie to any and all humans, including little kids (this is weird for a Chow, they’re usually a one person kind of dog and overly protective of that one person). He’s absolutely lovely and truly more like a cat than a dog. There’s only one problem…he hates other dogs. He hates all other dogs, he doesn’t discriminate.

    We adopted him from the pound and they had told us that this was the case and that it probably was a result of his nature (Chows aren’t generally warm and cuddly) and also a lack of socialization when he was a puppy (he was about six when we got it).

    So anyway, we always walk him on a leash, cross the street when we see other people with dogs, and if that’s not possible then we step aside. If someone else seems to be letting their dog wander over to say hi to ours, we say firmly but politely that we’re sorry, Coco’s just not great with other dogs. That usually gets us a disgusted look from the other person, but it also gets the point across and they back off.

    We never, ever take him to a dog park (as much as I wish we could) because you know, he hates dogs. So we just don’t go. I have to tell you though, what pisses me off completely is that we do everything we can to keep other people’s dogs safe from him (and I don’t want to make him sound like a monster, he’s not, he just doesn’t like other dogs and is apt to pick fights with them, so we keep him away). Anyway, we follow all the rules and go out of our way, yet we constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY) have to deal with other people out and about with their dogs who are NOT on leashes.

    The leash law is very clear where we live, and it’s posted in all the local parks. All dogs must be on leashes at all times. But most people we see in the parks don’t abide by the rules. Some people in our neighborhood let their dogs out the front door to roam about for a little while, rather than leash them and take them for a proper walk. So I have developed this deep anxiety about walking my dog, because I never know when I’m going to run into a dog off leash.

    I’ve encountered it hundreds of times, and most time I’m able to duck down a side street or back into our house before the other dog sees Coco or vice versa, but once I wasn’t able to do that. I was walking Coco down the sidewalk when a guy came out of his house with his dog and of course the dog wasn’t on a leash. As the guy turned to lock his door, his dog bolted towards Coco and I. I yelled “STOP!” at the dog and that’s when the guy turned around and realized what was going on, but it was too late. I do think the other dog was perfectly friendly and just coming over to say hi, but that’s not the way Coco interpreted the situation, so as soon as the dog got over to us they started fighting.

    I pulled Coco away with the leash, but of course the other dog wasn’t on a leash, so he’d just leap right back at Coco. The guy kept trying to call the dog off, even tried pulling him off physically, but the dog wasn’t having it. FINALLY the guy got a hold of his dog’s collar and yanked them apart. I was shaking SO hard, and then, and THEN! The guy YELLED AT ME! He started screaming at me about how my dog was a beast and I should keep him off the streets.

    I have to say, I’m angry at myself to this day, but I was so shaken up and worried about Coco that I just stared blankly at the guy and muttered something about how he should shut the f up, but I wish I had torn into him about the fact that I was following the rules and that if his dog had been on a frigging leash they never even would have gotten near each other. Instead his dog came tearing at us and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

    Sorry this is so long, it’s just something that bothers me all the time, every day. We have friends who have dogs and I’ve complained about this excessively, but I know they walk their dogs off leash occasionally. Like I said, Coco isn’t a monster, it’s not like he’d kill another dog, but I don’t want to deal with dog fights that I can’t break up because some other jackass can’t be bothered to tether their dog.



  2. Thanks for your comment, Bluestar. I wonder if he was treated poorly by another dog early in his life? I have met dogs who were abused by people and are afraid of people. Dogs are interesting creatures, for sure. I do hope to understand them better in time.

    I think that if we were to ever get a dog, you know AFTER WE FIND A HOUSE :], we’d get some small as shit guy like a Yorkie or something. But who knows. I know that golden retrievers are really nice dogs as well. Kind of big, tho.

    I’m rambling.

    And, yes, those who don’t use a leash are just thoughtless, Probably the same breed of people who don’t clean up their poop.


  3. Oh, and regarding him yelling at you? That’s not fair. You adopted a dog, and I would assume most dog owners would be grateful for that. Good for you for taking that boy in and giving him a home.

    Do you think dog owners walk their dogs without a leash because they want to show everyone else how “well behaved” and “smart” their dogs are? You know what I mean? What’s the point of walking a dog without a leash? I have wondered that a few times. Then there are the folks who have the leash in their hands but the dogs are free from it. Very strange.


  4. In a word? No. No, it doesn’t happen very often. I’ve taken my pup to the dog park in our area loads of times, and only seen one incident that could have been even a possible precursor to a real fight.

    That being said, I watch Mikey the whole time we’re at the park, and I watch the other dogs too. Most people are pretty good about realizing what their dog can and cannot handle. I know of one person who only brings one of her two dogs to the park, because the other is just flat-out aggressive. She is responsible enough to realize that and keep said doggie at home.

    As far as knocking kids over goes—well, I always question the people who bring their teeny kids to our dog park. The park is open to dogs of all sizes, which means that the teacup poodle is wandering the same ground as the Great Dane. The little teacup poodle might not knock Junior over, but a Great Dane can knock a grown man sideways without even meaning to. Not only that, but there are plenty of dogs (my own included) who are merely trying to be friendly and say “hello” by nuzzling a little kid (Mikey just views them as playmates!), but when a 2-year old is staring at a 65-pound furry animal with teeth, I don’t blame them for being scared. The solution, though, isn’t for me to keep my dog out of the dog park – a place that is specifically intended for him and his furry friends. If you know ahead of time that your kids might not be big enough to handle the big dogs, leave them home. Or go to a dog park where the play areas ARE segregated by size of the dogs—they certainly exist.

    Honestly, it sounds like you’ve just had a run of bad luck. Not all pooches are like the ones you saw (most aren’t, actually!), but I know that it can seem that way when you have several bad experiences in a short time.

    – lucy


  5. This kid wasn’t at the dog park. This kid was playing in the park. The dog was in the park NOT the designated dog park area. Did I not make that clear? Hrm.


  6. There was another incident that took place here that has me questioning having (bigger) dogs around small children. Recently, here in Brooklyn, a family’s friendly doberman turned suddenly and bit into a baby’s skull killing it.

    I can’t imagine. I can’t get that story out of my head either.


  7. Mihow, this is an issue close to my heart. As you can tell, dog people are all over talking about it, which I also love.

    I had cats all growing up, wanted a dog, never thought I had the “right lifestyle” for it and one pretty much fell in my lap about 12.5 years ago. She’s awesome. Hit the “the pooch” category at my blog to hear all about her in exhaustive detail. I also have 2 cats. Love them to pieces. They are awesome sometimes. :) Bring Murray over and my Elvis will teach him to steal food from SEALED CONTAINERS! AUGH!

    Anyway, the dog thing, I’ll speak to the NYC rules since I’m here and I’m not sure where other people are from. Dogs can be off leash in designated areas of most parks from 9pm to 9am, it used to be just a kindness of the parks dept and now it’s been made law. It’s so good for people and for dogs and I think you’d be thrilled by the sort of community you can find around that. My local dog group is at, founded by my very cool friend, Kath. They advocate people sticking to the rules in terms of specific off leash time and the fact that the dog must be in your control at all times even when not on a leash. That means that you have to be watching, the same way you’d be watching your kid if they were playing in the park like that.

    That being said, bad shit does happen. Not usually terribly bad (did you see if either dog was physically injured in the fight?) but bad. And most people do learn a lot of things about how to stop fights preferably before they occur but absolutely as soon as possible (unneutered dog in a fight? grab his balls and he’ll release). But as with anything, some people are assholes. It’s true in any situation but especially in cities where a lot of us live close together and we may feel we have to protect our boundaries enthusiastically.

    I have a lot of the same issues as Bluestar and I want to kick that guy who yelled at her in his unneutered areas! My dog is perfection with people, ask anyone who knows her, but as she’s grown older she’s been unpredictable in how she’ll handle other dogs. I’m beginning to realize that she’s sort of a Cougar, almost all the dogs she has good rapport with now are young males. She has never injured another dog but she has instigated some things that have caused her injury. Nothing life threatening but she has a talent for getting bitten right near the eye. I think that, for the most part, she and other dogs would work it out but, you know, it’s the people that get to me. Like that guy who yelled at Bluestar, people can be assholes and the last thing I want to happen is to be blacklisted at the park. So we get some grass under the girl’s feet during on-leash hours (9am to 9pm) and I wish to hell that other dog people would respect the on-leash hours as well as I’m respecting the off-leash ones.

    Once you get to know dogs they feel a lot more predictable. I think you’d do Emory a great service if you could find some dogs you like and help him learn how to treat them, he already knows how to treat cats so he’s got a leg up. For me I find the larger dogs make me feel safer (Golden retriever, lab, German Shepherd, Great Dane, newf) but I can’t say that’s a scientific observation ‘cause I was bitten by a Yorkie when I was a toddler (totally my fault, I didn’t know how to treat dogs) so little dogs still make me wary.

    Sorry so long but one last fun fact. Having dogs both on and off leash in your parks actually makes the park safer for everyone because people are in the park with eyes open every day come rain or sleet or snow or wind or what have you, our dogs need exercise so we’re out there and simply the fact of more bodies in evidence, more people observing, makes for a safer environment.

    I really hope you can bring yourself to be dog-positive and if there’s any way I can help please let me know. My dog loves kids, kids drop cheerios!


  8. Oh, and quick clarification on terms, too, at least for NYC. The fenced off areas of parks with the gates to get in and out are called Dog Runs and then off leash hours apply to parts of parks, or in some cases like Fort Greene Park, the whole park within the designated hours. A lot of people, me among them, believe that you get more fights in dog runs due to over crowding and that off leash time in regular open spaces promotes better dog mental health. It gives you more room to run around and choose who you want to hang out with. In a dog run you can be forced to be way too up close and personal with someone you’re just not a good fit for.


  9. Oh man, how does this always happen to me? I never, ever make myself clear when I write things like this. I AM NOT AGAINST DOGS! I promise you. I am not personally afraid of them. I have introduced Emory to my friend’s dogs (he LOVED my best friend’s dogs, giggled like a mad man whenever they came around.) I also introduced him to a puppy at the pet store recently, again, everything went fine.

    I don’t want people to run with this as they did with the vaccination post and think I am anti-dog or afraid of them or will keep Emory far from dogs for the remainder of his life. I love animals. Probably more so than I do most people. I really mean that. I do think that people should have to attain some sort of license here in NY to get one, however. I see far too much neglect around here.

    Please know I am not against dogs or a dog hater. If this post comes off that way, then I have a lot of reworking to do and no time to do it because Emory’s nap has come to an end. :]


  10. But I would like to add that off the top of my head, I am not sure I’m for the no leash needed law here in NYC. I think that’s a terrible idea based on the fact that so many people are so thoughtless when it comes to how they train (or don’t train) their dogs. Maybe it’s the people I don’t trust and not the dogs?

    Can’t the parks be safe and full of people with dogs ON LEASHES? You know what I mean? I guess I’m just not sure why they don’t have to be on leashes.


  11. Oh my goodness! I read 9 AM to 9 PM! I take back what I wrote above. I think I’m ok with that rule. If you have your kids out after 9 PM playing in the park, then maybe you shouldn’t?

    I’m sorry about that comment above.


  12. I recenty adopted a Pointer-Pit Bull mixed breed puppy. He was 3 months old when we brought him home with a mix of excitement and fear. I don’t know a lot about this type of breed, other than the horror stories I’ve hard on the news. We have two cats, so we knew we wanted a puppy and pickings were slim at our local Humane Society. We just fell in love with his personality, so we decided to risk it, telling ourselves that we would take him to training classes and shower him with love to avoid the stereotype.

    We have been blessed with a great little animal, with a slight house training issue. For the past two months, we have taken him to parks and events, where he sniffs other dogs and kids, but he’s still smaller in stature and easy to control . . .

    That being said, I’m terrified that he might grow to be a violent animal, based on his breeding. Our neighbors have two uncontrollable American bulldogs that terrify me (and once nearly killed our cat), so I’m with you. Even as a dog owner, I’m still learning—but we’re trying to be smart about it. I take every precaution to make sure my dog is sociable, without being a threat. . . I guess time will tell.


  13. And only in designated areas too! It makes me furious that people walk down the street with an unleashed dog, not only is it tough for me because of my dog’s issues it’s bad for people who are afraid of dogs and can be hideous for a dog who all of a sudden sees a falafel stand across the street and runs into traffic.

    I’m sorry, I didn’t ever think that you were anti-dog. I knew that dog positive phrase was clunky but I didn’t know how to fix it. I did, though, think that you were pretty high alert about dogs and maybe were keeping yourself really separated from them especially in light of recent events. Sorry about the misunderstanding.


  14. Don’t you worry, Kizz. My comment comes from fear, not necessarily what you wrote. I started to worry that it reads like I don’t like dogs. No misunderstanding. We’re all good. Plus, you learnt me sumthin about dog rules!

    Ashley, seems to me that in all likelihood, your dog is going to end up sweet as pie. I hear they are nice animals if treated well.


  15. I grew up with dogs – lots of them, we lived on a small farm – and there was very rarely fights between them. I think it has to come down to training and responsible owners. Sometimes fights will happen but they can be managed, I think.

    Growing up with a dog/dogs as a child was a great experience and something for which I’m really grateful to my parents.

    Having said that, my husband and I have a cat. And we love her.


  16. i don’t like dogs, neither does eddie….maybe that’s why we get along so well. most like to think of their dogs as people and this leads to them being lazy about understanding the animal that is their dog. but the biggest problem is the owners are “untrained” and the dogs aren’t properly socialized.

    personally, i would never take a dog into a dog walk/park because you just never know(most definitely never a child). especially a city dog(child) who’s all pent up with energy, it’s the last place for a dog(child) to blow off steam because they are already stressed.


  17. But Greg in your scenario the dog is always stressed and full of pent up energy because they never get to let out their ya yas. Doesn’t work for people (of any age) and it doesn’t work for dogs. You might be saying that we shouldn’t have dogs (and/or kids) in cities at all but I can’t tell.

    Thanks Mihow!


  18. For the record, the eddie Greg refers to is a dog. hehe

    To some degree, I know what greg is saying. Dogs here are often stuck in a (let’s be honest) small apartment all day long. That’s not how it’s supposed to be for bigger dogs. I imagine they are meant to run around. So, whenever you do bring them out, aren’t they slightly more spastic and hyper?

    the same can be said for city folk. Which is why they drive so insanely. They are aggressive because this city tends to make us all slightly claustrophobic. There really is no such thing as personal space in public. (Hello, Subway!) And our apartments even the nicer ones are relatively pretty small.


  19. Interesting discussion. My son and I were playing on the beach when two huge dogs came running at him — the owners were yelling at the dogs to stop, but of course they couldn’t do anything about it. The dogs jumped on my son and knocked him over. I grabbed him and held him close to me so the dogs were jumping on my back. When the owners finally caught up to the dogs, they actually LAUGHED, like it was cute or something. The dogs, as it turned out, were not unfriendly, but I had no way of knowing that. I was terrified.

    On the other hand, I have two small dogs (like really small — seven pounds and ten pounds) and when I walk them, I only put one on a leash. The unleashed dog is afraid of everything, including the leash. We’re not sure if she was abused before we had her. Anyway, she won’t go to the bathroom if she has a leash on — she will just stop and refuse to move. So…I understand everyone else’s point about unleashed dogs, but I can’t figure out a different solution. I can assure you I don’t keep her unleashed to show how well trained she is or anything like that.


  20. regarding my comment above: I don’t mean all city dogs. But it could be said that some of them are cooped up all day, no?

    Monica, that would have scared me as well. Also, good to know your instincts were to let them get you before your son. You’re a mother!


  21. Oh, heh, now the Eddie thing is funny.

    A lot of suburban dogs get less exercise and socialization and play than city dogs. I’d say most but that’s just a guess and anecdotal and whatnot, I’ve got nothing to back that up. Because of the small apartment situation (good) dog people take their dogs out more, make a concerted effort to get them off leash/dog run time, walk with them, run with them etc. A lot of dogs in non-urban situations are tied up or left in yards or only let out to pee and only get to hang with other dogs if their household has other dogs so they get less exercise and are more sedentary.

    Mostly the larger the dog the less exercise s/he needs, too. Newfs and Danes and the like need less time than smaller dogs. You can check out that kind of info on the AKC website, which is the only reason I know. (“Ooo, pretty pictures! Hey, there’s actual useful information here, who knew?” It’s amazing I graduated high school without being distracted by something shiny.) The small breeds, especially in the terrier family, need a lot more exercise because they have a lot more energy and are bred to use it. There are a lot of exceptions I mean, I figure you put a border collie and a Jack Russell in a field together and it’s a toss up who catches a nap first. Also, a smaller dog can get more exercise inside your average city apartment than a big dog since they’re, you know, small.

    Some dogs do well in a city situation and some don’t. Some dogs do well with certain owners and some don’t, don’t you think? I have learned that I’m probably never going to have a border collie if I can help it because I don’t want a dog with a better work ethic than mine and I probably shouldn’t have a dog with a high concentration of pit bull because I’m neither highly physically active nor highly disciplined. I’m a spoiler, I spoil my cats, I spoil my dog, I spoil other people’s cats and dogs and I pay the price when my cat opens up a perfectly good box of cereal with his crazy paws and eats half of it.


  22. Funny, now that you mention it, I bet city dogs get exercise because their owners NEED TO GET OUT OF THE SMALL APARTMENTS MORE OFTEN! :} I know I do!

    Even funnier? Eddie is a Border Collie! heh


  23. I have a female red nosed pit bull who is 5. We got her from a rescue foundation locally who only deal with the “bully” breeds. She is an amazingly well behaved dog and incredibly loving towards everyone and almost all dogs (she is a bit of a diva so girl dogs get on her nerves quickly) but I have never seen her act aggressive towards the ones she doesn’t like.

    I don’t take my dog to off leash dog parks. Mainly because of the stereotypes against my dogs breed. If something were to happen my dog would be the one blamed because of her breed and would have to be put down. I couldn’t live with that so I’ve chosen to only take her to on leash areas.

    I honestly think that the really bad issues happen from bad owners. People who are unsure of how well trained their dogs are and let them off leash when they most likely shouldn’t. People are dumb and do dumb things and it’s the dogs who are left to suffer for it.

    I think you posting this was a great idea. It allows people to discuss their feelings and explain themselves in a proper way. Here in Canada there is a show on tv called “End of my leash”. It’s kind of like dog whisperer but not quite. It takes badly behaved dogs and teaches the people what they are doing that is creating that behavior and what they can do to change it. It’s amazing the things that a person doesn’t realize they are doing and how it impacts their dog.

    Sorry for the ramble and thanks again for the post.


  24. From another angle, my dog was once attacked by a kid. We were walking on the sidewalk (on leash) and the kid, probably about 4 years old, ran up to my dog and sort of tackled my dog while trying to hug him. My dog is very afraid of children and my heart stopped as I tried to pry the kid loose and my dog froze in panic. The kid’s parents just idly stood by, sweetly asking their kid to “be nice to the doggie.” Meanwhile, I was praying my dog doesn’t bite the kid and had to physically remove the kid’s arms from my dog.

    Luckily, the kid didn’t get bit because it would have somehow been turned around to be my fault. Unluckily, my dog is now even MORE terrified of children.

    So parents, please teach your kids not to approach strange dogs!!!


  25. We took Bailey (bulldog) to a dog park once when she was little. Nothing bad happened, but we won’t go again. Too many nasty stares from people, who I am guessing assumed she was pitbull, even though she doesn’t look like one. I guess because she has a big jaw and is short and fat?

    They didn’t seem to want to let her play with their dogs—except for those with the small hyper little novelty dogs that love to bite—so f*em. Now she just plays with the other family’s dogs. :)


  26. I have a very gentle 70-lb lab that I take to our local dog park frequently (not in NYC). I watch her pretty closely. For the most part, the dog parks I’ve been to have been without incident. However, one night last summer we were visiting our local park when a medium sized dog got bit. I wasn’t standing around the area where the incident took place, so don’t know who bit him, etc. So bad do things do happen. While most owners are responsible, there are always the one or two, who aren’t.


  27. people are ijitz when it comes to dogs, more owners and non-owners i must say. however, i think everyone should watch “the Dog Whisperer” even if they don’t have a dog…..that guy is amazing.

    kizz - just so you know, most of what comes out of my mouth is a bit tongue in cheek, but you are right, larger breeds typically exist better in cities and small apartment because they need less exercise. laziest dog i know is 3 year old decomissioned rabbit chasing greyhound! (fyi, if anyone wants a great rescued dog, go to any dog track around the country and just ask where you can get one! amazing, friendly, potty trained, pampered and just plain beautiful dogs that need good homes!!!! my neighbor rescues them and they're in and out of their house all the time.)

    as for the pits heathercoo…..people are just trained to be affraid and it’s unfortunate. they can be wonderful dogs if the care is given to them. i find that around here, pits tend to be an accessory to one’s desired image, like a new pair of baggy jeans or a black market Louis Vuitton handbag…until people realize they have to care for something other than themselves. it’s really sad and has led to overbreeding and locally some feral dog packs(not just pits)

    “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners!” quote by eddie


  28. my dog is wonderful to all people and children on a leash, but he is extremely unpredictable w/ dogs. He is a siberian husky and is excellent w/ dogs OFF the leash. But I only let him off leash in fenced in areas b/c like all huskies, he loves to just take off and RUN. He loves all dogs and is scared of cats he does not know. I LOVE that. The point I am trying (badly) to make is that most dogs are more aggressive on the leash. I think they feed off their owners energy. I think he will bite the loose dog and get scared – he senses my fear and in turn becomes more protective. I figured this out one fourth of july w/ my first dog (the real Misha) who also loved all dogs in the park, but would want to kill most any dog she encountered on a leash. That night I was so drunk I didnt even think of her as a mean dog on leash and she played w/ a dog she had not met before wonderfully. I was drunk enough to have the fear and anxiety knocked out of me so she didnt sense it and was relaxed. But even though I know this, I still tense up when I see another dog while my dog is on leash even though this one usually just wants to play. Ok, so many dogs are leash aggressive but great when untethered to the person they need to protect, and they definitely feed off the energy of the person walking them. ramble,ramble,ramble…. Oh, I was wondering if there was blood in the dog fight you saw. Dog fights happen all the time, but it is usually over dominance and end quickly. Dogs are pretty dog at sorting things out on their own. But two really alpha dogs can be a real problem. Thankfully my baby (dog) doesnt give a shit about being the top dog. He is a happy humper at the park – its how he gets dogs to chase him. People tell me its b/c he is aggressive (which is usually correct) but its just his retarded way of playing. He might be the prettiest crayon in the box, but sadly he is not the sharpest.


  29. Greg, now I’m primed and starting to get the jokes! Longish learning curve on this end.

    My dad rescues greyhounds, they are the craziest freaky dinosaur dogs aren’t they? It’s like they have just on and off, nothing in between. The one they have now has a wicked prey drive so they have had to learn a lot about that but she’s a super dog. Their first one was their baby, probably the best matched dog to them and their life ever.


  30. This is such a great discussion, and I have to say that it’s nice to see so many people agreeing that they are annoyed by people who don’t follow the leash laws – sometimes it feels like everyone around me when I walk the dog totally ignores the law and I’m the only one who has a problem with it!

    For the record, Mihow, I totally didn’t get the impression that you were anti dog in any way. Witnessing a dog fight – especially an out of control, really scary one – can shake anyone up a bit, for sure.

    There’s a beautiful Arboretum near our house (walking distance) and I go walking there all the time. Last weekend my husband came with me and wanted to bring the dog. I told him NO WAY could we bring the dog because TONS of other people bring their dogs and I’ve never seen one on a leash. Ever. He didn’t believe me that it was that bad, but agreed to leave Coco at home anyway. Sure enough, we counted sixty dogs at the Arboretum that day (which has signs posted throughout indicating that dogs are to be leashed at all times) and only one was on a leash. One out of sixty. I was really angry at the end of our walk, because you know what? I’d like to take my pup to the lovely park too and go for a long walk and have a little picnic, but I can’t, because everyone else thinks they’re entitled to break the law. Grr. Sorry, this whole thing just upsets me because it has completely destroyed my ability to just enjoy a walk with Coco.


  31. My husband and I just got approved to adopt a rescue dog and we bring him home in 3 weeks. We have been avid observers of the dog parks in the neighborhood (McGolrick and McCarren) and let me tell you, I have observed some PISS-POOR dog parenting there. People who don’t control their dogs, people who think their dog getting overly aggressive with another dog is funny, that kind of thing. And truly, in these situations, it is 90% the fault of the owner for not knowing their dog’s limitations/ tendencies or for not training the dog to mind them.

    I feel so bad for you and Coco, BlueStar, because you are doing the right thing for Coco (keeping her from getting hurt) and all the other dogs around, and you have to pay the price. Not all dogs are good with other dogs, and every sane dog owner should know that.

    And as far as anti-pit bull sentiment, don’t get me started. You know what breed bit the most people last year in the US? Cocker spaniels.

    I agree with the “no bad dogs only bad owners” sentiment.

    Mihow, when we get our sweetie, I’ll let you know when we are going by McGolrick Park—S. has been tested with little kids and Emory is more than welcome to say hi! With LOTS of supervision!


  32. Lillet: Sounds good! I’d love to meet your new addition. It’s nice to know that it might just be a local thing—that dogs aren’t out there attacking dogs for fun. I had a feeling this was an owner thing. Lord knows, i have walked through my fair share of dogshit around these parts.


  33. I love dogs. I increasingly dislike many dog owners.

    Many dogs take on their owners traits and mimic them – seeking approval and to fit in (vs cats, which are in their own little world).

    You end up getting ‘mean’ pitbulls, because the dregs of society tend to adopt them. You toss a pitbull in a loving home, it’s a total sweetheart.

    That said, this is my mccarren expereince last weekend:

    Owner of large lab lets go of leash. Owner of small collie lets go leash. The lab continually chases the collie, trying to mount it. After they grab the dog leashes and pry them apart, the two gruff “have a nice day” – as if only the other is to blame. Hello… you both let your dogs wander unleased in the non-dogpark area. Lab owner then turns to his dog – “Samson, looks like you have a crush… she’s not that cute.”

    Girl with tiny dachshund is walking her dog, and runs into male friend. They chat. Girl with large fluffy mutt runs into them – she knows boy, not girl. Fluffy mutt then starts to continually provoke dachshund; fluffymuttgirl says “he loves to wrestle!” they all laugh. After a few minutes its clear that the dachshund is being beaten up – fluffy girl just laughs; other girl finally picks up dog and cradles in arm for a few minutes. I turn to my friend “You know the second they walk away, the dachshund girl is going to complain about what a total irresponsible bitch the other dog owner is”. And then she did.


  34. “Many dogs take on their owners traits and mimic them”

    So THAT explains why hipster dog owners have dogs who incessantly hump other dogs without a care or worry about the consequences.


  35. LOL to that last comment


  36. I am not dog person, but I have to say mihow I LOVE your sense of you humor. You’re last comment made my day. <3


  37. maybe I lost whee bit to much sleep… I meant your


  38. “So THAT explains why hipster dog owners have dogs who incessantly hump other dogs without a care or worry about the consequences”

    Yes. I was trying to allude to it with a nice story and show tact for once.

    Thanks for ruining my attempt!


  39. “So THAT explains why hipster dog owners have dogs who incessantly hump other dogs without a care or worry about the consequences”

    Yes. I was trying to allude to it with a nice story and show tact for once.

    Thanks for ruining my attempt!


  40. Have friendly dog, but won’t visit dog parks. If I want to take him off-leash, we amble along country roads. I’ve seen too many of these fights – the owners usually swear sideways that their dogs have never shown any aggressive signs. Even well-trained dogs can get provoked by another dog though.


  41. Like me, you like dogs but love cats. We get and understand cats. Dogs—I like very much and have considered getting one. But Dogs are a different language for me. Me the pack leader? I am subservient to my cat :-) I am not sure how it might work out? The cat would allow me to walk the dog?

    In most cases the owners are aware of issues and fail to recognize the triggers. Triggers as in what the dog might view as aggression from another dog, or size issues and etc.

    As Kate mentions even well trained dogs can loose it and go after another dog. It’s too bad you had to see that but I would not let it totally ruin your intro of dogs to Emory.

    It is a scary thing to see for sure. I get upset about the squirrel on squirrel violence in my backyard. Especially when the little squirrel is getting picked on. :-(

    I know most who read what you wrote got what you were saying. No need apologize for your thoughts- your entry was clear – you don’t hate dogs, nor do you think the attack was typical behavior. It was unexpected and violent. You had a reaction. You are normal. :-)


  42. Anyone who says their dog “doesn’t bite” is an idiot. ALL dogs – no matter how nice and sweet – have the potential to fight and/or bite, if they are provoked enough. Different dogs have different points of provocation, though, and it varies as much by individual as by breed.

    My senior dog now is just old now, but when she was younger, she didn’t love most other dogs. I used to do the same thing as Coco’s family – cross the street or otherwise get out of the way when another dog approached, and even sometimes people if I thought she wouldn’t react well. I have actually reached out and physically stopped little kids who charged for her. I would never ordinarily grab a child but if the parent is wandering around clueless…

    My younger dog is a sweet hound who has never been aggressive, but she does have teeth and I have no doubt that she would use them if she got to wherever her threshold is.


  43. My dogs and I avoid dog parks becuase I do worry about fighting. just like people not all dogs get along.


  44. I have to say I really enjoyed reading your post! I will admit, I love cats, and I love dogs. I lean more towards being a cat person though. I have 2 cats and one awesome dog who is usually very well mannered, peaceful, friendly with other dogs, and people, and he is now a therapy dog. I have spent enough time training and bonding with him to know he is not unpredictable, but he is no saint. He has his bad days. Now, I dont forsee him ever biting anyone for any reason, but that doesnt mean that if someone didnt really provoke him that he wouldnt bite in self defense. I am somewhat weary, and I stay away from the dog park usually because he is usually bored by it, and I dont want to take chances on him picking up a virus. Also, I know my dog, but I dont know other peoples dogs, and that can be scary sometimes. I want to think that people use common sense and follow the rules, no aggressive dogs, no sick dogs, no small kids/puppies, but they do not. It is important to recognize that when most people say “he wont bite” it is not in a literal sense. They are saying you can pet him and he will accept it. Also, it is really sad that the irresposible dog owners really give all dog owners and their dogs a bad name. Fighting is typically a last resort for most dogs. It is not natural behavior for a dog to seek out fights. I love my 2 cats, and when we got a dog, he quickly learned that the cats were above him in the hierarchy. So he lets the cats walk all over them. Cats and dogs are completely different.

    One very important thing to keep in mind is that a small dog is still a dog, not a cat. Small dogs can be just as, if not more aggressive if they are not trained, and usually become instigators with their barking. They need to be trained and socialized just as much as any other dog, or they are at risk, so that is something to keep in mind, and if you fear dogs, the dog can sense it which doesnt make for a good relationship with your dog. Anyway, I really enjoyed this post! Dogs are a lot of work and training, but once you really put the time into it, they are so worth it : ) Cats are special and just as affectionate. They are all great!!


  45. I know your post is old by now, but I was looking up certain terms about dog parks. I rescued a Jack Russell over two months ago and he is a great dog and loves to play. However, I have learned not to take him to the dog park during peak hours (3-6.) I feel I am pretty intuitive and I can tell when a dog is taking to my dog in the wrong way for whatever reason. Today, two dogs I didn’t feel right about on another day, cornered him. They were both cattle dog mixes and belonged to the same owner. One was nearly at his throat snarling at him and standing over him. I yelled to someone to call their dog off. And then I said to no one in particular, “Why do people bring these kinds of dogs?” That inspired the dogs’ owner to try and trap me into thinking I had overreacted and my dog was the problem. However, she managed to leash up her bitch, so I feel she obviously knew her dog had a potential to do harm. The male was left to do what he pleased and my dog did warn him off and proceed to play with the other less aggressive dogs. There’s been another instance where a pit-bull mix has gone head to head with my dog (because she tackled him too many times and wouldn’t bug off.) I was told later by others that her dog is aggressive, she has been thrown out of there, and the dog has bit another dog there. So I just don’t go when there are a lot of dogs there. It’s too much excitement and most of the owners are off talking on their cell phones or not paying attention. I watch my dog very closely and have a spray bottle just to get dogs’ attention. He has found some canine friends he really likes and is good with other dogs in general. But being that he is small and is a terrier, he will not back down if another dog gets aggressive. I’m learning a lot, but the more I read about bad experiences at dog parks, the more I realize the need to avoid peak hours and keep a careful watch on things. Mostly, some of these people are either nuts or aggressive themselves.


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