About two weeks ago, Zu and I were leaving our driveway to go on a walk when an old beater truck pulled up. The passenger, a woman in her mid-sixties whom I had never met, got out and went straight for Zu. She started petting his head and we made small talk for about thirty seconds, then she hopped back in the car and they drove off.
Weird, right? Now let me show you why this was especially weird:
Cutter John is the larger by nearly 15 pounds, but Zu weighs in at 95lbs so it’s not exactly like he’s stuck in the featherweight division. Thanks to whatever salted his genetics, he’s also freakishly tall; his head hits at my waist. So when the lady jumped out of her car and rushed headlong at Zu, I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth she thought this was an okay thing to do.
It was an okay thing to do, though, because we’ve dumped a hell of a lot of time and effort into training Zu. He had serious fear and anxiety issues that have been gradually decreased through repetition and new experiences. We might never get to the I love the world and the world loves me! mental bliss of the Golden Retriever, but he’s come a long way. A year ago, he would have snapped at that woman (or worse); two weeks ago, he looked at me for permission and then curled up against her leg for ear scratchies.
I bring this up now as I had lunch with a friend today and told him how odd it was for a strange woman to stop her car and run at my dog. My friend, without missing a beat, said: “Lawsuit.” To which I said: “No one wants to get bitten by a dog.” To which he said: “And no one wants to be in a car wreck, either, but people let themselves get rear-ended all of the time.”
So I’m hoping he’s wrong and this isn’t a new way to get a quick buck off of dog owners. But it sort of smacks of truth; unless you’re a professional trainer or a Dog Whisperer-class canine psychic, I can’t imagine a situation where you would think it’s okay to rush a strange dog, let alone one that very obviously looks like a “dangerous” breed.* If this happens to you, do not let the person approach your dog. Back your dog away from the car, put him in sit, and have a nice conversation from eight feet away. I made a mistake by letting us get cornered in the first place, and I won’t repeat this in the future. There’s no reason to put your dog at risk, even if the other person is well-intentioned and, simply, dumb.
*Lady, if you’re reading this, Zu thanks you for the ear scratchies.