Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Never Thought I'd Say This . . .

. . . but I almost miss the snow.

I know that I've spent the last couple weeks celebrating the thaw and the warmer temperatures, but sometimes you don't know what you've til it's gone, right?

I don't really want to get snow again--I love seeing the sun again. I love not having to skate from my front door to the dumpster. I love being able to wear the pair of shoes I plan to teach in to school instead of having to wear practical shoes to get across the parking lot and then change them in my office. I love spending less time putting on layers to be able to walk than I actually spend walking. Spring can stay.

But there are two big reasons I miss the snow.

Poop. My neighbors are gross. The sidewalks weren't shoveled once this winter, so Barley and I walked in the street. But my neighbors let their dogs out in front of their homes and let them poop and never cleaned it up. So now that the snow and ice is gone, the sidewalks are walkable again--except they are covered in poop. Some of it is flattened from being under layers of snow and ice for two months. Some of it looks relatively fresh. Barley and I are still finding ourselves walking the street for large sections of our walk. It's disgusting and I can't enjoy the birds and the sun and the blue sky when I'm busy watching my step and dodging land mines.

Barley wants to make rude faces at our neighbors. I do, too.

Other dogs. Barley agrees with me on this one. We had the entire neighborhood--limited as it was--to ourselves for 2.5 months. We didn't see other people or other dogs or even birds and squirrels. The first time we saw people out in their yards this month, Barley started growling. Other dogs on trails are fine. Barley doesn't expect to see them in specific spots, so it's easy to get her focused on me. In our neighborhood, though, she knows where every single dog lives and looks for them every single time we walk by. In the winter, they are never ever out, so we can relax a little more and I still say, "What's that?" when we walk by and she looks for them, but I don't have to reinforce with treats as often. In the spring, we have to go back to square one and start treating every time she even thinks she needs a dog. It's hard to get back into that after a couple months of it just being us in our world.

"I think something has dared to enter my kingdom! Off with it's head!"

Her nemesis, Zoe--a boxer mix, has reappeared. When I first got Barley, Zoe was very good about staying in her yard. There is a track around her yard from where she would run circles around the house barking like crazy, but never leaving her yard. In the last year, Zoe has started leaving her yard to get to Barley. When the kids are out, they grab her and bring her up onto the porch before we get anywhere close. If the adults are outside, they just stand there and watch as I try to get their dog away from Barley. (Is it just me or is there something wrong with that picture?) This week, Zoe was out on her own--I told her to stay and praised her when she stopped at the edge of the sidewalk (and we had moved to the other side of the road) and a neighbor across the street meandered down to the end of his driveway in case she tried to approach us.

Yesterday, we were out enjoying a beautiful sunny walk. Then I heard shouting. I had a hoodie on and didn't have great peripheral vision, so I turned around just in time to see a large dog darting through traffic towards us. A young guy was chasing him. I had my Spray Shield, but I couldn't spray the dog and send him back out into traffic, so I had Barley sit while I still had time to get her focus before the dog got to us. She was fine while it sniffed her back and tail, but as soon as it tried to sniff her face she snapped. Then the dog started circling us and snapping--luckily, the guy made it to us at that same moment and the dog started dodging him instead. As soon as he had the dog's collar, we took off. Barley had her tail and ears down and had lost all the pep in her step. Then a minute later a dump truck pulled up alongside the sidewalk and made lots of noise. Barley basically shut down. When we got home, she went right into the spare bedroom and curled up in the bed. I couldn't even get her to get out of the bed to go potty before I went to work. By the time I got home, she was back to her normal self and we got a nice little walk on a different route, so she's fine now. But it's exhausting.

Snuggling with Soth is much more pleasant that dealing with other dogs.

I'm so happy to have sunshine again and I love having more time to walk in the evening, but I'm not very good at sharing the neighborhood with other living things.



16 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry Barley got scared on your walk. It's so upsetting when your dog gets upset!

    I SO know your pain!! When I lived with my inlaw's I had the exact same problem with the neighbor dogs and Phoenix knew where every single one of them lived. There was only one close park we could go to for walks and my husband and I were sharing the car. A lot of the time I would skip walks and either do training in the backyard or we played with the chuck it for exercise. A lot of the neighbor's just let their dogs roam loose so walking was very hazardous!

    I also know your pain about the dog poop. In my new apartment complex no one picks up their poop, well some of them do but not enough! There are piles everywhere and it's awful. I can't understand how someone could be on the other end of the leash of their dog, watch them poop and then just leave it there. It doesn't make any sense. :(

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    1. My parents' neighborhood is full of roaming dogs, too. It's baffling to me. Barley tolerates two of them and they walk alongside us without getting close to her, but I've used the Spray Shield on several of the more annoying ones. Our neighbors are usually really good--there are a few dogs that charge their electric fences, but they always stop and we know where they live, so we walk on the opposite side of the road and just work on keeping Barley calm--but this is a dog we've only seen a few times from a very far distance and it's never bothered us; it looked like maybe a college kid was home for spring break, though, and the dog maybe doesn't listen to him quite as well.

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  2. I have the same complaint where during the rainy season, we mostly have the sidewalk to ourselves but come summer/sunny days, the city is crawling with dogs. Thankfully, Mr. N is getting much better. And some circumstances, it's totally warranted. Like the off-leash dog that came up to us THREE times yesterday in the park. Had no recall, of course.

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    1. I think it's my Bossy Big Sister Syndrome kicking in--I've never been good at letting other people tag along, so I miss having the whole world to ourselves! I definitely didn't scold Barley for snapping at the other dog--our trainer's engrained it into my brain that she's allowed to tell other dogs she doesn't like their behavior as long as her behavior doesn't escalate from that. I was glad the owner got there when he did, though! Sorry Mr. N had to deal with a pest this week, too!

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  3. That's pretty scary. It's a good thing that dog's owner was around and got there in time, sounds like things could have escalated.

    I hate it when people don't clean up their dog's poop. People around here are pretty good about it, but occasionally we'll find a big pile along our route. If I knew whose dog it was, I'd return it to them....

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    1. Haha! I love the idea of returning it to the people! Of course, I've just gotten to the point where I don't gag after cleaning after Barley, so I probably couldn't stomach cleaning up after somebody else's dog.

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  4. There is definitely something wrong when the children are smarter than the adults about keeping their dog away from others.

    I know we have spring here and it is lovely - but I am looking forward to our disgustingly high temps in the summer so there are fewer people out. I go out of my way to make sure Blueberry isn't harassed by other off-leash dogs and most of the time I succeed, but during this time of year, it can be more challenging. She doesn't shut down like your Barley - but she is so meek, sometimes other dogs will be aggressive with her almost to punish her for being so docile.

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    1. I know! I'm just glad that there seems to be a generation of responsible dog owners growing up in my neighborhood even if their parents don't seem to have a clue. We've got all of the neighborhood kids trained on how to interact with Barley, so they always ask if they can pet her, know that if we can hear another dog parking they can't touch her, and that she has to be sitting before they can pet her one at a time. Now if their parents were as easy to train . . .

      Usually Barley and I are pretty good at evading the off-leash dogs, too, but every time we aren't successful I worry about how it will affect all the progress we've made with her training. I think she would have bounced back from this one after walking a little farther if we wouldn't have had the noisy dump truck sneak up on us. Hope that you and Blueberry get your warmer weather without other dogs soon :)

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  5. Aw poor Bar. And gross about the poo. I get so agitated when people leave it RIGHT next to the trash can. Some people shouldn't have dogs.

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    1. It is gross! And it looks even grosser than usual after being encased in snow and ice for months!

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  6. If that doesn't all stink. Why can't people pick up their poop and keep their dogs under control? If I see people, even kids, out with dogs not on lead and the dog charges us, I just yell at them they they need to get their dog...quick. Our dogs do not look for trouble but if a dog charges them, all bets are off. Sometimes I even walk with a healing stick. I would use it on a charging dog in hopes of heading off a fight. It bugs me that I have to do that, but I have had the experience of the person just meandering over to get their dog when mine wanted to eat it. It is one reason I do not walk our dogs too far from home if I am alone.

    Thanks for sharing in the hop.

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    1. Luckily, this dog's owner was just a few steps behind him, but 3 seconds of having another dog sniff Barley feels like 3 hours of waiting to see what will happen, so it sort of felt like we were living in slo-mo. Most dogs back off when Barley snaps, but this one looked like it saw it as challenge, so I'm glad the owner was close by and coming quickly.

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  7. I'm so sorry. All of this really sucks. It is one of the things I hate about the nicer weather too. I carry pepper spray and will spray the other dog. If it is between keeping my dog safe or their unleashed, out of control dog running into traffic? Sorry, my dog wins. I've had this conversation with animal control too, if my dog is on leash and approached (in the street) by an off leash dog and my dog bites your dog, my dog is in the right. There are leash laws here and people must abide by them.

    As for the poop, well that is so disgusting and I deal with that all the time too. I sometimes wish I lived in a little dog friendly community with responsible dog owners with like minded ideas of what constitutes good training. ;-)

    Thank you for joining the blog hop and I'm glad Barley rebounded quickly.

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    1. If the owner hadn't been right behind the dog, I would have kept walking and sprayed the dog once it was on the sidewalk to turn it in the other direction. I've been there before with Barley being the one that got away and was chasing down another dog (which got her signed up for "doggy boot camp" asap) and the guy was very apologetic, so I was happy to make it a little easier on him to get his dog back in one piece. I don't think Bar would have shut down as much if it had just been the dog incident, but the warmer weather has brought out so many more people and motorcycles and then it was trash day, so it was just too many triggers coming at her at once. She can handle them one at a time pretty well, but we've got to build back up her tolerance for distractions now that the rest of the world's coming out of hibernation :)

      It would be nice to find a neighborhood with only responsible dog owners! Maybe when people start moving to Mars, we can designate one of the planets to be for people who understand good training ;)

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  8. Wouldn't it be nice for everyone if all dog owners were smart and thoughtful? What an awful thing for you and Barley. I've been there and done that and know that is no fun at all. I think the dogs have recovered more quickly than I did from the stress too.
    We don't have a lot of dogs in our neighborhood since we're so rural, and I also try to walk at times of day when I know less people will be around. But that's not always possible, and is exactly why we spend more time playing in the yard than walking....but I would really like to walk more without having to worry about who we will encounter.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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  9. That is so gross about the poo. And poo on dog owners who aren't more responsible for their pups! Rita also has a "nemesis" (that's what we call her - The Nemesis) and unfortunately the jerk that owns her let her walk off-leash the other day, and we came around a blind corner and there she was - off-leash and way too far ahead of her owner for him to catch her. I got scratched up, Rita got freaked out. Not good. Luckily Rita shook it off much more quickly than I did. We live in a 'hood w/ many winding, narrow roads and idiot drivers who go too fast while texting, so if you ask me, you're taking your dog's life in your hands by letting it walk off leash, yet people keep doing it here! It's ridiculous. It's getting so Rita and i have fewer and fewer walking routes because we keep avoiding the places where we've had run-ins with off-leash dogs. I hope you'll have better luck with Barley's nemesis in the future!

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