Monday, October 17, 2016

Howdy, Neighbor

When Mr. Rosenberg pulled into the driveway from work this evening, I opened the door and Teddy slipped out to say hi. A man came around the corner walking his dog. Teddy ran up to the little dog and the little dog started barking. We grabbed Teddy and were taking him inside when the man stood on the sidewalk in front of our house and started yelling obscenities at us. "Stupid, f***ing ugly Americans!" and "F*** you!" he shouted over and over in a German accent. Bob could hear it from inside. The whole neighborhood could hear it.

I get that Teddy startled the guy. I totally get that he didn't know that Teddy was friendly. I take responsibility for my mistake letting Teddy get out of the door. This guy's reaction was unhinged and frightening. (And I'm not sure what us being American had to do with it.)

How did we react to this guy? (He did not seem open to a polite apology. Ahem.) We grabbed our dog and went into the house quickly, leaving him outside yelling. He continued yelling as he finally left and walked down the street. We didn't go at it with him. There's no point in trying to reason with crazy.

I can't remember the last time I had someone screaming at me. Maybe that time I worked for Michael Bay?

The evening can only get more relaxing from here.


  1. I had the same experience while walking my Lab. Late Sunday night and nobody but my daughter and dog. I took off the leash. Then a walker came with a small dog. There was growling and posturing. I tackled Sunday and hauled her by skin away. Clearly, I'd goofed by taking off her leash. Clearly I was doing everything in my power, including putting myself between two agitated dogs. No harm done besides my own scraped knees. The chewing out I got was disproportionate. Swearing at me in front of my daughter, demanding to know why the dog wasn't on a leash... she didn't really want me to answer that so I didn't. I quickly and quietly left. I had apologized, used my body to separate them. There was nothing more I could do. The yelling and judgment revealed the other dog owner as a frightened and angry woman. I'm not going to argue with those two strong emotions.

  2. What an unfortunate incident. I believe the ugliness of this presidential campaign has freed many people to feel all right about losing their cool. This hostile environment makes every small thing into a battle. It's scary.

  3. I'm so sorry this happened. It feels so violent and volatile.
    Thank you for sharing this. If it happened to you, the calmest, nicest person I know, it could happen to anyone.
    Stay away from the crazy.


  4. That is really ugly.

    My dog is reactive. Other dogs startling her will make her completely melt down, and she is 60 pounds of tantrum. If the other dog is friendly, it's worse.

    I don't know why she is this way (she was about a year old when I got her) and nothing that I have tried has worked (and professional trainers are out of their depth with my complicated Catahoula). She just flips out and it's really hard to get her back under control. Her adrenaline courses through her body and then through mine.

    So, I get what the guy is feeling. But that reaction is not appropriate. Not at all. I know that when Ziggy Stardust and I go out for a walk that there is always the chance of us losing control because we're in the world. Stuff happens.

    I do get aggravated when people don't make their off-leash dogs stop chasing after us aggressively (usually it's small dogs, but Ziggy can't distinguish threat levels, and I worry what she would do to "protect" me if I allow the small dog close enough). I have said - please get your dog now as I'm trying to put my body between their dog and my 60# bundle of high anxiety. I usually get an apologetic: "She's friendly," but it doesn't matter if their dog is friendly. I'm dealing with a fur-covered puddle of meltdown, and it's frightening to me when she loses control badly, which only happens worst when people don't follow the leash laws.

    I never had any idea what this is like, to own a reactive dog. My last dog was so chill and friendly and I often had her off-leash. I would see other people choke up on their dog leashes and I would say "OH, it's fine, she's very friendly and not pushy at all" - she wouldn't approach a dog who didn't want to be approached. But now I understand: it's not about the "good" dog at all, it's about the dog who will yank my arm out of the socket because her PTSD has rewired her brain in a way that makes her quick to overreact.

    Again, not in any way justifying his awful behavior. Just processing how I handle these situations. It's embarrassing to be in the club of reactive dog owners.

    YOu did things exactly correctly!

  5. I get you. You never know with dogs - even if you think you know you don't really know what's going on in their heads. xo

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