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I’ve Had It!
If I hear “but he’s friendly” one more time, I’m going to lose it
Guess I need to pack rubbing alcohol along with the poop bags.

I’m bruised and beat up, and not sure what to do. This morning, I took my three large dogs for a walk. We were 50 yards from our driveway when a loose black Labrador retriever came into the street to greet us.

I know this dog; I've found him wandering before and brought him back home several times. He's a friendly boy. That said, my three dogs do not appreciate having a strange dog run up to them and get in their face.

I told the Lab, "No, go home!" in the sternest voice I could muster. It didn't deter him. Nor did three large barking, snarling dogs. And that's when I saw him - the dog's owner. He was standing right there on the front lawn.

By then, it was too late. As I envisioned this dog getting bitten by one of my dogs or worse, I lost my balance and fell backwards onto the asphalt. Incredibly, I didn't hit my head or break an arm. Just some ugly, searing scrapes on my knees, elbows and knuckles. Somehow, I managed to grip the leashes tight and not let my dogs go free. And thankfully, a car didn't come zooming around the corner like they sometimes do. What if we had all been hit?

My neighbor came out and got my dogs’ attention, helping calm all of us down while the Lab’s owner put his dog inside. The Lab owner then started to cross the street to approach me, politely asking, “Are you alright?”

Adrenaline still pumping and before I could think clearly, I screamed, “Please don’t come talk to me! I can’t talk to you right now! Why do you let your dog be loose? I’ve seen him go up to other people and their dogs while walking. Why do you let him do that?”

The Lab owner looked at me like I was nuts – it certainly wasn’t my best moment – turned on his heel and went inside his house to hang out with his no doubt equally bewildered Lab.

Now I feel like a jerk. And my neighbor, who is wonderful and loves my dogs and kept my heart from jumping out of my chest, says, “But you know he’s friendly, right?”


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Lisa Wogan | June 7 2010 |

Readers, I inadvertently deleted some excellent comments to Julia's blog this morning. I plead coffee-deficit. It was an error. If you're checking back on your comment, and don't see it here, please re-post, sorry about that.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 11 2010 |

i walk my dog off-leash whereever i go, except on the bus and in stores (she is a service animal). leashes cause aggression. my dog is under control at all times.

Submitted by deb | June 7 2010 |

AMEN AMEN AMEN is all i have to say to this.
I have been on your end so many times i can't even begin to count.
When is the joe doe public going to get it into their heads.... just when????
and i don't care IF MY DOG IS FRIENDLY! I don't want to meet your dog up close and personal when I am with my dogs or not.
I love all dogs, I do rescue. I instruct and help all I can.
Especially novice people. I own dobermans, yes dobermans. The mean vicious dobermans..... lol
Well let me tell you... Mine would probably be the first to lick you and maybe your dog, but your golden, lab, poodle, etc etc etc... no matter how aggressive and all they are and not on a leash (which by the way is against the law), would not be to blame no matter what. It is a breed perception that is so midleading. I would not feel bad for one second that you had your say with him about the dog. I have had many says with my neighbors and not neighbors about this same type of incident. PLEASE KEEP YOUR DOGS, by the way i think they are smarter than most human owners, in YOUR YARD, ON A LEASH and AWAY FROM PEOPLE AND THIER DOGS WHO ARE LAW ABIDING AND NOT BOTHERING ANYONE ELSE.
It is not the dogs fault, it is the HUMAN.... they need a book called bad human bad human, not bad dog bad dog like i'm seen at the stores.
If you want you and your dogs unscathed... i recommend doing the right thing.............

Submitted by Carolyn | June 7 2010 |

Ouch! Julia, you have my sympathy!

When we are in the US, my small dog is often rushed by loose dogs, usually friendly, sometimes not. While she likes polite, more reserved dogs, exuberant out-of-control dogs, large or small, scare the heck out of her. She cowers or tries to run.

I have taken to picking her up -- probably the wrong thing to do, but I can't always evaluate whether an onrushing dog is friendly or not. Once I was clawed to bleeding by a happy labradoodle that just wanted to say hi while I was holding her out of his reach. His owners stood right there and said: oh he's friendly.

Yeah right. That kind of friendliness we can do without.

Submitted by Sarah | June 7 2010 |

Our dog had a lot a fear issues when we got her and we've worked hard to overcome these. I really resent these people with their unleashed dogs possibly undermining the self-confidence she's gained. Now when they say, "It's okay, he's nice." I say, "You're taking a gamble that mine's NOT!"

Submitted by Kathrine Konetz... | June 9 2010 |

Oh, I am SO with you on this. Yesterday, I had to use dog repellent for the first time while walking my two Collies. A young adult German Shepherd was outside, off leash, while her owner worked in the yard. I've seen her before and am always careful to cross the road whenever we walk by her house, hoping that will be enough of a deterrent if she happens to see us. Well, yesterday, she saw us and she tore after my dogs with every hair on her back standing straight up. There was no sound coming from her, either--she was completely silent. Cars going both ways had to stop in order not to hit her, and her owner just stood there--yelling. The dog, fortunately, did not attack, but she did get nose to nose with my puppy, and she was certainly not listening to either myself or her owner. So I maced(?) her. I was probably running on adrenaline myself and trying to keep my leashed dogs safe; unfortunately, the dog deterrent didn't have any effect. Finally, her owner was able to call her off. No apologies offered, either. I am always so careful with my dogs, and yet, we often have to fend off loose dogs when we walk our neighborhood. Why? I realize I'm preaching to the choir here, but honestly, how can people be so stupid?? Please do not feel like a jerk--you behaved completely normally. And maybe, just maybe, that guy will think twice when he sees you and your dogs and put his "friendly" Lab inside because he doesn't want to mess with that crazy woman again. One can only hope.

Submitted by Karen London | June 9 2010 |

Julia, I feel for you! I've had more clients than I can count who felt like prisoners unable to go for walks because of dogs roaming free with the happy blessing of owners who merrily call out,"Don't worry! He's friendly!" with a wave a smile. It's maddening. I myself had a dog who I treated for leash aggression issues and taking him on walks was an exercise in vigilance--extremely exhausting. I realize that people like your neighbor mean no harm, but friendly doesn't mean under control, polite, or even legal (if you live where there's a leash law.) Thanks for writing about this, and I hope you heal up soon.

Submitted by dani | June 9 2010 |

I see this everyday! In the area where we walk our dogs we encounter many many off leash dogs! Just the other day we saw a dog off leash (we've seen this small dog before it usually comes barking and growling at us) running full speed chasing a bicyclist!!! A few weeks before that a black lab puppy came running at me (completely unexpected!) and jumped up to my face. Thankfully it did not bite me but I was pretty shocked. My dog did not like it one bit and immediately went on defense mode. When the owner eventually came strolling by they didn't seem to care one bit! If anything they were put off at my dog growling at their dog!

Submitted by Romeo's mom | June 10 2010 |

No way you should feel like a jerk. I have the same problem with one of my neighbors alway's letting their lab get loose. We make sure when we pass we walk on the opposite side of the street and only if we don't see it out. If I see it out we walk the long way so we don't come near it. I have a shih tzu and the last time their dog came after us I had to hold Romeo up over my head while I got scratched and bruised trying to kick their dog away. When they finaly got their dog they just said sorry and walked away. Even my dogs fan club came to save him. This was not the first time it had happened. After I calmed down I went over to the owners house and told her that if it ever happens again I will call the police and do whatever they say I need to make sure it doesn't happen again. She then accused me of walking my dog in front of her house on purpose. We live on the same street. It's true that there are no bad dogs only very bad owners. Good luck.

Submitted by Leslie | June 11 2010 |

I so agree with you. My dogs are little love angels but do not like to be approached by roaming dogs. I have started yelling at owners who holler out "he's friendly".....I scream back that my dogs "are not friendly"....and then I go to town on how they should be more responsible, etc. I don't mince words. I'm sick of it and even scared at times. I love dogs but they are unpredictable. Hope you are feeling well. By the way, I reported a neighbor to the Humane Society because her dog was always out wandering, sometimes a block away. I got tired of being worried for her dog. Some people should not have pets. Don't know what happened but dogs are suppose to be under control at all times.

Submitted by Inês | June 12 2010 |

Hey there. I'm from Portugal and I recently participated in a online pet forum over here where this issue was being debated - the title of the original post? "Don't worry, he's friendly!" I guess some things are the same everywhere.
The worst thing is that those who let their dogs harass others always get this "well, you're obviously crazy" look when you confront them...
I have three dogs, that I always walk leashed, one a golden retriever, so I think I can point out that, to my mind, lab and golden owners are the worst offenders...not to blame these breeds, but they do seem to attract especially careless fanciers...

Submitted by Laura | June 12 2010 |

You are SO in the right on this one. My border collie has fear aggression and will "RAH RAHR RAHR" in another dog's face when they come too close. I am at the point where I no longer care what the other owner thinks or how ther how badly the other dog wants to play. I have found that John Q Public doesn't respond to "my dog doesn't like other dogs" but usually act quickly if you tell them/yell "my dog is mean!!" Its very unfortunate that we must go this far to keep personal space for us and our dogs. Don't forget to body block the other dog if you can!

Submitted by Poodle Owner | May 17 2013 |

Yes! my dog bella is a mini poodle and has... eel, i dont know what she has. but whenever a person (stranger) comes over to her and sticks their hand in her face, she snaps! shes absolutely terrified! i have no idea what to do with her and we may end up giving her away! :-(((((((((((((((((((((((((((( i really have no idea.

Submitted by Cosmo, Pig, Bus... | June 14 2010 |

My sincere sympathy...I have been in yours and apparently many others shoes at one time or another...too many to count. My worst horror story around this issue was while walking my oldest pug Cosmo (10) in our neighborhood. A young girl was running with a husky I had not seen before, he was off leash, they ran up behind us, on the same side of the road and startled Cosmo and myself. Cosmo started barking and the dog turned and advanced on us as the runner kept going, as I started yelling and backing up to try and get away, the husky leapt at my pugs neck, started shaking him and dragging him down the street on leash. I had to kick the husky in the ribs to break his grip. Needless to say, my pug was seriously injured. The owner was nonchalant saying no damage done as I ran home cradling my motionless dog. After paying out over $1200. in vet bills and then some for my time in court, I still dont think she learned her lesson...

Submitted by Julia Kamysz Lane | June 14 2010 |

Thanks so much, everyone, for sharing your own experiences with walking your dogs. I had no idea this was such a problem for a lot of responsible dog owners!

On a related note, tonight I was teaching my Rally Obedience class at the vet when a vet tech came downstairs to grab a carrier. I commented that she was working far too late. She told us that there had been an emergency. A family was walking their two small dogs off leash when two large loose dogs - who had been left unsupervised in their garage - broke through the invisible fence and attacked the small dogs. One of them was severely injured, and the entire family - including children who witnessed the attack - are traumatized at having seen their dogs hurt.

What can we do to stop this? Education? Police reports? There's got to be something we can all do so we can all feel comfortable and safe walking our dogs on leash in our own neighborhoods.

Submitted by C.M. | June 19 2010 |

When entering our local dog park my bitch has been mobbed by packs of dogs, who get right in her face, and elsewhere. She doesn't like to be in that situation. Of course the owners always say, "He's friendly!" All the dogs are off-leash and not defending their own territory, so leash aggression and territorial behavior are not an excuse. The blame lies with the dogs' people who are not paying attention and are not too savy, anyway. Couldn't a "leave it" command prevent the onslaught from happening in the first place? Can we practice some manners at the dog park and in our neighborhoods? Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of dog parks.

Submitted by Jen | August 11 2010 |

Glad to see a lot of people have the same problems with their dogs. I walk my German Shepherd mostly off leash but I have COMPLETE control of her at all times. I wouldn't walk her like that if I didn't. She's e-collar trained so she can heel, sit, down etc... instantly. Shes never running around loose in the neighborhood like a lot of other dogs I see. And I agree with others its always Labs or Golden owners!! The problem I have is when I see loose dogs approaching (which are everywhere where I live in Tahoe) I instantly have her heel with me and these dogs have absolutely no manners at all and will rush towards her. Understandingly my dog gets uneasy and either barks or just looks very freaked out when they come running full speed towards her. I just don't understand how owners let their dogs develop such bad habits? You don't know how strange dogs are going to react to dogs getting in their face. Now my dog isn't aggressive but if my dog felt like defending herself would it be her fault?? Funny how carefree dog owners can be! Sometimes I feel like the most responsible owner in town.

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