Neighborhood dogs

A couple of months of disciplined walking, much of it in the neighborhood surrounding our church, has brought us into acquaintance with some of the neighborhood’s dogs. Many of the dogs that we meet are out for a stroll with their owners. Because the owners are concerned about teaching their dogs to behave, we try not to interfere. We never encourage the dogs to jump up and greet them only when the owners signal that they are comfortable with it. Still, it is fun to watch people with their dogs.

A young couple each walking a mid-sized sled dog, perhaps part Siberian husky. The dogs are wearing harnesses, but not the type used for pulling sleds. Each is connected to an individual person. I haven’t encountered this pair enough to determine whether or not the same person walks the same dog each day. I don’t know anything about the walkers. They might not be a couple at all, but rather two individuals who like the same type of dog. The dogs are young and eager and probably would like to stretch out and run a lot faster than the leashes allow.

I happen to know one of the two standard poodles often seen walking together. Manley belongs to a friend of mine and he was definitely her husband’s dog before her husband died. Me is a proud dog, confident of his place in the world and impeccably trained. He knows he’s well trained, too.

There are some dogs that we know just because we walk near their yards. They are fenced in, but the presence of pedestrians on the other side of the fence is an event worthy of a few barks and checking out what is going on. At one place there is an athletic little dog that can jump nearly a foot higher than the fence. We’ve never seen him jump over the fence and leave his yard, but he is capable of startling us when he appears above the fence. If you are walking along engrossed in conversation and all of a sudden see this dog leaping and barking, you’ll take a step back inspire of yourself.

I’m not particularly afraid of dogs. I grew up with pet dogs and delivered enough newspapers to learn fairly well how to judge whether or not a dog is really a threat. Just because a dog is running and barking doesn’t mean that you are about to be attacked. On a couple of occasions I’ve misread a dog. Once a dog snapped at me and caught me by surprise as I greeted him. It was an embarrassment to the owner, who apologized profusely. I was unhurt, just surprised and no harm was done. When I was a newspaper boy, I got bit by a neighborhood dog who was mostly chasing my bicycle. Our grandson similarly got bit by a dog who reacted to hm riding his bike through a campground. the dog, who was not properly leashed, ran, leaped and bit him on his side, toppling the bike and giving us all a big scare. A trip to the emergency room to have the wound cleaned and stitched resulted in the dog being quarantined by animal control people. Our grandson, gratefully, seems to have no lasting issues with the event. He is appropriately cautious around dogs, but not afraid of all dogs.

I’d like to know the story of the UPS driver who delivers to my sister’s place. My sister has an Australian shepherd who is a very friendly dog. He loves to chase trucks and she has worked with him to keep him from going out on the road. When the UPS truck comes down the drive, however, he is almost impossible to restrain. The former UPS driver was prepared for dogs and had dog treats in his truck. The dog loved that driver and was eager to see him. Then they got a new driver, who is very afraid of dogs. He won’t get out of his truck and will barely open the door. If you don’t run out to the truck, he will just shove the package out the door onto the ground and drive away. I keep wondering whether or not he hates his job, because his route is in rural Montana, where lots and lots of homes have multiple unrestrained dogs in the yard. He seems to lack any sense of which dogs are dangerous and which are not. Just because a dog is barking doesn’t mean she or he is about to attack. I would think that the driver’s fear of dogs might make his job miserable.

I’m guessing that that particular driver didn’t go home after work last night and watch the finals of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. They’ve got some fancy, and very well behaved dogs in that operation. There re some whopping big trophies and rich rewards for owners. I think the best part of that show are the agility tests. The dogs seem to like walking on the teter totter boards and completing the course. Nothing that happens there, however, compares with the sheep dog competitions at the annual Black Hills Stock Show. Those dogs work actual sheep, responding to the whistles of their owners and really showing off their intelligence and athletic ability.

Yesterday afternoon I watched as a younger member of our congregation was exercising his small terrier in the back yard of the church. The dog was really enjoying being outside and running in the wide open space and the owner was very relaxed to have the dog in a place where there was no worry about cars and other dangers. They clearly have built a relationship that brings both of them a great deal of pleasure. The dog stayed close to the owner even though enjoying running in the wide open space and eagerly ran to the car and hopped right in when it was time to leave.

The bonds between animals and humans are fun to watch. For a person who doesn’t have any pets at present, I am well aware that my life is enhanced by those who do. My world is richer and more enjoyable because others care for their pets. And in our neighborhood, at least, you don’t have to be a dog owner to have plenty of dogs to enjoy.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!