My mutt was walking off leash at the park with me last week. The back of the park borders some backyards, which is where we were walking when a toy poodle came bounding out from one of the yards. It left its yard and ran right up to Ace, barking. Ace was busy looking for a stick, and the dog startled him. Both dogs were friendly, so there were no issues. I pulled Ace along on our walk, and a man came out and got his dog after unsuccessful coaxing from the door.

But this situation could’ve gone a lot differently had it been two different dogs. It made me think about who is to blame when a dog bites another dog. If my bigger dog had felt threatened and bit this little dog, would it be my fault?

Both dogs were off leash, neither were 100 percent under control, and the smaller dog was the one provoking the bigger dog. Let’s say the little dog bit my dog on the leg, enough to draw blood. But then my dog bit back, hurting the little dog more severely or even killing it. My dog would be the one labeled a dangerous dog, when the smaller dog was the one who attacked in the first place, unprovoked.

I guess the moral of the story is you can only be responsible for your own dog. I can’t control the fact that some idiot leaves his poodle alone without a leash in a nonfenced yard. But I can control my dog’s response, and if I can’t trust him 100 percent, then he shouldn’t be off leash for his own safety as well as others’. The same is true for possessive dogs at dog parks. They just shouldn’t be off leash.

I worry about that little dog, because who knows what kind of trouble it could get itself into. It shows no fear, and not all big dogs are gentle like my mutt.