Cura and I have been together since 2009. We want to thank all of you who followed the early days as well as those who popped back on occasion during the long hiatus. Training was done, the days passed, and we were settling into our life together.
Fast forward: Cura is slowing down and a new member of the family is in training. On top of that, we are all busy with our new calling . . . Running the Training Department for Paws and Stripes. Join us on our journey!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rights have Responsibilities!

I recently had an unpleasant experience at a business that allowed pet owners to bring their dogs on the premises.  Unfortunately, the person who had elected to bring their dog with them had a dog that was not socialized to being around unfamiliar dogs.  Twice, this person's dog became aggressive towards Cura and each time, the owner's reaction was to laugh.  Both times, Cura and I were surprised by the dog because my concentration was focused on shopping and not people with thier dogs coming up on us unnoticed.  (My fault because I should have been more diligent in an establishment that allowed pets -- especially after the first incident of anti-social behavior -- lesson learned, I hope.)  Anyway, this experience got me thinking about the responsibilities that go along with all those rights we hold dear . . .

***gingerly stepping up on soapbox*** (hey,my balance is bad, give me a break!)

Yes, there are places that you have the right to take your dog.  Some businesses let you bring your beloved dog in with you as you shop or provide a wonderful outside patio where you can sit with your best four-legged friend and enjoy a meal or coffee.  Of course, you have the right to enjoy these facilities!  No respectible animal lover would say otherwise and, in my experience, some of the biggest dog-lovers are those of us whose lives have been enhanced by an Assistance Dog. 

Now, here is the big ol' BUT . . .

With that right comes responsibility.  If you bring your dog into one of these places, you are responsible for controling them and insuring that they do not threaten the safety, wellbeing, or enjoyment of others.  Don't let your dog charge, growl, bark, snap, and/or lunge at other dogs or people.  If it happens (which it will at some point, no matter how well behaved your fuzzy friend is), get your companion under control immediately and for goodness sake, don't laugh when it happens time after time as if it is all a big joke!  This applies whether or not your dog reacts to another pet, a human, or an Assistance Dog.  Also, keep in mind that when your dog has an aggressive reaction to an Assistance Dog that it is potentially compromising the safety of another human being.  Even if you manage to stop your dog short of making contact with an Assistance Dog, your dog has interfered with the Assistance Dog's ability to concentrate on their job and placed the human half of the team at risk.

Hey, we all know that dogs have quirks and personalities.  Sometimes, no matter how well behaved they are usually, they just decide that they don't like something and react.  It happens.  But it is NOT funny and as the owner, you are responsible for insuring that it doesn't happen again (i.e. don't pass by the trigger repeatedly and then laugh at your dog's anti-social behavior).  You may have the right to have your dog with you at these locations, but you also have the responsibility to insure that your dog does not interfer with the ability of others to enjoy these places.  Make sure you live up to that responsibility before you bluster about your rights -- or just leave Fido at home, he may be happier if you do.

***thus endeth the soapbox***