Velociraptors

Sometimes our walks are peaceful and sometimes they’re challenging. And sometimes they’re a little scary.

There’s a dog park along our route that Kali is getting more and more comfortable passing without getting stressed when she sees other dogs inside  romping or coming towards the low cyclone fence to get a closer look.  We pass the park walking along the adjacent trail path.   Although Kali is not ready to enter the fenced dog area she is getting more and more comfortable seeing the other dogs and she can sit and watch from a distance without getting stressed.  We’ve come a long way since last May and I feel like she’s finally turned the corner and on the way to being able to one day happily interact with dogs other than brother Smokey.

And then came the “Velociraptors”!   Three of them.   All seeming to move in premeditated – no, instinctive – harmony.  The way these dogs charged the perimeter of the park reminded me of the Velociraptors in the movie Jurassic Park.  They were beautiful specimens; short hair with long snouts, about 70 or 80 pounds, sleek, agile, and very muscular.  For what soon became an obvious reason, these Velociraptors all wore brightly neon colored muzzles.

"Ok boys - get your muzzles so we can go to the park..."

“Ok boys – get your muzzles so we can go to the park…”

There are two areas of the dog park adjacent to one another but separated by the same type of fence that surrounds the perimeter.  As we passed by the first area Kali and I saw one of our familiar trail families with their three dogs.  Kali watched them throwing tennis balls and we waved and passed by uneventfully.  Then as we moved on we became startled.  We we saw two brightly colored muzzled dogs charging the fence that separated us.  I looked around to see where their owner was but no one was around.  I braced myself to protect Kali from the Velociraptors because it was becoming clear that they might  jump the fence. At the speed they were running their  intent seemed clear:  take no prisoners.  I quickened our pace and then saw a third dog sprinting to “defend” his fellow Velociraptors who by now had reached the perimeter of the park.  Finally I see two humans – about 100 yards away – casually chatting and heading towards the fenced area.

They had let the dogs off leash in the main park and the dogs ran freely towards the open gated fenced area.  Directly towards Kali and I.  The humans seemed oblivious, or perhaps indifferent, to the aggressive demeanor of their dogs.  Kali and I had no choice but to keep walking as the dinos , who thankfully didn’t jump, tracked us along the fence line barking and gnashing with bulging eyes.  KALI WAS GOING NUTS!  I didn’t try to  control her barking and lunging as I would under other circumstances.  Of course she was defensive. Of course she was scared.  Of course she was ready to protect me and fight for her life.  Of course they would have eaten her and most of me in the process…

The owners arrived at the gate but don’t call off the dogs nor even slightly acknowledge me with a wave of “sorry”, or “Hi – sorry about that, we’re working on this behavior”.  Nothing.

Kali and I walked on but the rest of the walk sucked.  That’s my own fault for letting this experience get to me.  But I was really pissed-off at the “owners” of the Velociraptors.  I was also pissed off at myself for being judgmental.  Kali has a few issues so who was I to judge.  BUT, I am in total control of Kali when we’re in public.  The Velociraptor mommies were not in control of their three brightly neon colored muzzled flesh-eaters.

So we continued our walk – me pissed off and Kali stressed.  We circled around to the other side of the creek that runs between the trail loop.  We looked across at the Velociraptors and their human mommies.  As soon as they saw us  they charged the fence – the dogs, not the mommies.  Nope -the  mommies were still pretty oblivious that the breeder they acquired these dogs from referred to his kennel as “Jurassic Park – Home Of Prehistoric DNA”.  We were about two hundred yards away. separated by the creek and they still charged at us.  WOW!

Kali barks. I have her sit and look over at the park.  I stare at the Velociraptors’ mommies and feel a bit guilty for how proud I am of Kali who is now calmly looking at me while their out of control dogs chew on the chain link fence in trying to get out.

I felt bad for these dogs and wondered how they got this way – nature or nurture?  Probably a bit of both.  But I felt worse for Kali and I wonder, that as far as Kali has come,  do these events set her back in her trust of other dogs.  She seems to shake them off quicker than I do.  She comes home and sleeps soundly.  Meanwhile,  I sit and stew and research Velociraptors.

4 Comments

I definitely understand. I hate getting dirty looks from people because my reactive dog is freaking out after their completely out of control dogs charge at us (either that or, like with you, the owners are completely oblivious). This occasionally happens when we walk by a fenced area with dogs, but it actually happens most often with people walking smaller dogs on extendable leashes.

Thanks for your comment. It’s helpful and reassuring that other dog owners go through similar challenges. Not unlike being a parent and knowing that your kid is not the only one who gets scared of clowns 🙂

We can relate! Much as we would love to let Ray go and play in an off-leash area, we can’t for numerous reasons. We are not comfortable that we can tell the difference between aggressive play and simple aggression; the off-leash areas seem to be a social setting for the dog owners who chat and enjoy their coffee while the dogs are out of control; we have seen many a dog clearly not enjoying the attention of others. The off-leash areas appear to be a “dumping ground” for dogs that need exercise and whose owners cannot be bothered to walk them. It was disappointing for us because Ray badly needed to socialize with other dogs, but an off-leash area was not the place.

Like you, we have walked around the outside of the perimeter fence and generally speaking, other dogs have wandered over and said “Hi” through the fence however, we too have had a couple of really obnoxious snarling dogs at the fence. Given that we are training Ray to accept that other dogs are not necessarily bad, an experience like that has got to impact any progress with training. I totally get your obvious frustration but, to put it simply, there are many dog owning idiots out there and there is very little that you or I can do about them except acknowledge the fact and plan accordingly.

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