A societal issue of entitlement and enablement
Letter to the Editor
Recently I was out for a leisurely stroll in the RV park where I live, enjoying nature and trying to relax. I have fairly severe PTSD, and so this is an essential part of treatment: relaxation.
Suddenly out of nowhere two large black dogs accosted me, jumping up and clawing at me. Both me and their owner told them loudly and repeatedly “No!” But it had no effect, they continued to jump up and snap at me.
In my left brain, I understood these dogs were just being dogs, curious and friendly. However, my nervous system did not understand and I was triggered into a full-blown PTSD attack, where basically you lose control. I screamed at the dogs, swearing loudly, then told the women harshly that she needs to keep them on a leash, because some people have had trauma with dogs.
It’s now well over an hour later, and despite doing what I can to calm my system, I still have unwavering effects and can’t breathe properly. It basically ruined my evening. Meanwhile, the owner is most likely telling her partner about this crazy lady that lost it on their sweet, innocent dogs, just for being friendly!
It’s important to note, however, that in the park it clearly states that dogs are to be kept on leash at all times.
This is not my first experience with this type of behaviour: disobedient owners. A couple of summers ago I worked as a host at a provincial campground, and was shocked at the number of people letting their dogs loose.
One afternoon I was doing a walk-around and encountered over five different dogs off-leash on the beach, where it clearly states ‘Dogs on Leash.’ Worse was that there was an official off-leash beach just a couple dozen metres away. The owners just felt entitled to use this one instead.
At another provincial campground where I was camping, I was confronted by the same thing. My stepsister was camping with me, and her dog also has PTSD from very poor treatment by previous owners, so she always keeps her on leash. The problem was with the other campers, who allowed their dogs to wander freely through our campsite, triggering my stepsister’s dog into a frenzy.
We explained to the loose dog’s owners that they needed to keep their dog out of our campsite because her dog is triggered easily. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t have even had to ask, for it’s stated park rules. Their reaction was to treat us like the criminals, and gossip about us to other campers. Despite the fact that they were breaking the rules, not us.
I know another woman who had a more extreme experience, but one that I’ve heard from others, also. She was forced to break up a fight between a loose dog and the dog she was walking. She ended up getting bit in the process, going to the hospital, getting stitches and a rabies shot, and then she had to go to court.
The dog that had attacked her dog had previous encounters and was going to have to get put down by court order. All because its owner didn’t take responsibility for discipline, and allowed it off-leash. Who ends up paying? The innocent dog and innocent woman.
A friend of mine has a large scar on his face from a dog attack when he was a child, and he was forever-internally scarred by that event, and could never be around dogs comfortably again. Not to mention the giant scar on his face that he will carry to his death.
Many people have had dog attacks, and it’s important to remember this. Every owner will state in defense when their loose dog inevitably jumps up on someone, “Don’t worry, they are friendly.” That statement I’ve heard countless times, but it’s a mute point. That would be considered an assault if it was a human, let’s keep that in mind. How many date rapists use the excuse, “I thought she wanted it?” Although an extreme example, is it really that different to someone who’s already been traumatized by a dog attack, and then gets assaulted by another dog later?
It’s merely a lame excuse for lazy owners who feel entitled. This is actually a letter about entitlement, not dog discipline, for all you dog owners out there.
I used to be a pet-sitter and had dogs all through my childhood. I’ve even helped train animals; it’s not rocket science. A water-filled spray bottle, or electric shock collar if that doesn’t work, is usually all that’s necessary. But dogs can’t train themselves.
Further to the risk of physically hurting, or triggering, other people and dogs by allowing dogs off-leash, there are additional considerations to dog ownership: noise and feces.
I stayed in a campground a while ago and campers a couple sites down had a dog that was kept in their campsite, but which they allowed to bark and whine incessantly – I’m talking about hours of noise. When I finally got fed up and went over to ask them to put their dog inside their trailer, they replied with, “He’s just a puppy.” Then continued to allow it to bark and whine.
Firstly, I had overheard them talking to other campers, telling them that the dog was a year old. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to know that a dog that’s a year old in people years is no longer a puppy. Besides, he was full-grown.
Secondly, it doesn’t matter his age, it is their responsibility to keep it under control. The truth is that they were lazy owners that didn’t bother training or disciplining it. When I went to the park manager to complain, I was completely dismissed and ignored.
Subsequently, I decided to blast my music to white-wash the barking. The park manager immediately came over and shut off my music herself. When I explained why I had blasted the music, I was again ignored. I believe that’s the very definition of hypocrisy. This is a societal issue of entitlement, and enablement.
There also seems to be this assumption among dog owners that if they are in nature, it’s okay to allow their dog to defecate and not pick it up. I spend a lot of time walking in nature and am appalled by the number of times I see (and smell) dog feces; and not just little ones, but giant, steaming piles of it.
Once I went for a walk and, not exaggerating, saw almost a dozen piles of dog feces sitting in the snow right beside the trail in a mere half a kilometre distance (they easily could have been covered up with snow). I’ve had neighbours let their dogs poop in my yard, and even in the middle of my driveway – very frustrating.
It is actually illegal to allow your dog to defecate on public property, regardless whether it is a natural setting or not. The only place your dog is allowed to defecate freely is in your own backyard. Please, please remember that, dog owners.
And if you are out walking and see someone conducting this pathetic behaviour, call them out on it. Don’t be afraid to stand up for society; we need people called out on egregious behaviour more often.
This overall trend speaks to our issue as a society with enablement of inconsiderate, narcissistic, and often dangerous behaviours. Unfortunately, this is also happening with parenting. There is a trend to not discipline, when discipline is an essential part of human life.
There is no such thing as undisciplined dogs (or children), just undisciplined owners (or parents). Dog owners, and parents, often forget that an ounce of discipline not conducted today, can lead to a (dog) pound of punishment later on.
Life isn’t always going to be there to enable us. Like the dogs that eventually get put down, because their owners don’t discipline them, and the undisciplined children that eventually end up in jail as adults. Lack of discipline is not without consequence, the consequences just play out more harshly down the road. Love is Discipline.