A dose of Dan: Rude dog owners, please wake up

By From page A4 | May 6, 2011

Rudeness comes in many forms, and most of us generally try to ignore it. That may be part of the problem, but it feels like a healthier approach than flaring up over everything. Nonetheless, here’s an overdue message to local dog owners: You and your canine aren’t the only animals on the planet, please show some courtesy and respect for others around you.

For every responsible dog owner out there, it seems there are three who could care less about others around them or their dog for that matter. It doesn’t matter where you live, dog irresponsibility comes in many flavors. Here in our little corner of El Dorado Hills, we have more examples of careless and rude dog owner behavior than we can toss a ball at and say fetch.

For starters, we have a neighbor who owns three dogs that enjoy barking. Two of the dogs are tiny and have that annoying yip and yap that only little terrors can produce. The dogs are relentless in their barking ferocity. If they hear you outside on the other side of the fence, they will bark aggressively non-stop. One of them doesn’t even pause to breathe, often choking itself in the process. Unfortunately, our driveway and basketball hoop are right by the neighbor’s backyard fence. So we often hear waves of excruciating barking while simply playing hoops in the driveway.

However, the dogs’ barking isn’t the truly offensive part of the equation here. Dogs bark, especially dogs that haven’t been trained, may not receive enough attention, you name the dysfunction. What makes the story irritating is that our neighbors are immune to the barking. We’ve actually seen them sitting and reading in their backyard while the dogs yap on and on. For more than 15 minutes. Without looking up or even scolding the dogs once. No effort. Just pure ignorant bliss. And equally impressive concentration!

Of course, after a couple years of experiencing this, we had to say something. Our question these days to the neighbors lost in their books while their dogs wail: “Excuse me, can you hear your dogs barking?” The response: “I can now.” And then the dogs are escorted inside and the barking ceases. Until the next day. Then the scene replays itself.

This complete lack of consciousness for fellow humans by dog owners extends beyond our unique neighbor. We have a new park by our house, El Dorado Hills’ vaunted Lake Forest Park. When it was an empty field, we used to call it Dog Doo Park for all the land mines in it. People would walk their dogs, and after all, since it was a natural area, why not let Sparky take care of his natural business without picking it up. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own the land, nature will do its thing, or so the logic goes.

Now that the new park has been open for a few weeks, we’re seeing evidence of that type of dog owner carelessness continuing. The usual land mines are present, particularly in natural walking areas. And some out-to-lunch people have taken to letting their dogs off the leash in the park, ignoring the rules and playing with fire with all the children around.

Just a few days ago, the son of family friends was bitten at the park by a Labrador off its leash. Our friends’ son should not have reached down to pet the sitting dog, but the dog should not have been left off its leash (especially after the dog had already apparently bitten someone once before, as the owner later admitted to my friend). Fortunately, our friends’ son is fine and the bite was minor, but the experience could have been more serious and easily avoided. The park has signs posted notifying dog owners to leash their dogs. Wake up, people.

Of course, we all make mistakes, and there are plenty of quality dog owners out there who undoubtedly outweigh all the suspect owners. But if you’re receiving complaints about your dog or are being careless with the animal (and if for some divine reason or by accident, you recognize it), take the time to consider others around you. As the saying goes, a little consideration goes a long way.

Dan Francisco

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