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Can stupid dog owners be trained?

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I believe the average adult can handle and care for a dog properly. Even if it’s their first dog, most people can put two and two together and figure out how to train and exercise a dog. If not, they can pick up a book or take an obedience class.

If someone asks for my advice, I give it. If not, I keep to myself (and blog about it later). But every once in awhile I see people who amaze me, and I just have to say something.

Last summer I saw a woman verbally abusing her dog and even hitting him every time he came to her because he didn’t come fast enough. Go figure.

I explained to her what she was doing wrong, and she was happy to take my advice.

The people who need serious help with their dogs probably aren’t the ones reading this blog. The people who do read this blog are responsible, educated dog owners like me. That’s why I’m writing this post. Most of the time it’s better to let things go, but sometimes we just have to say something – for the dogs..


People like us can help the less fortunate dog owners and their dogs.

Saturday Ace and I witnessed a bad dogfight that could’ve been prevented. This was one example where giving a man the benefit of the doubt was a mistake on my part.

Ace and I were out for a nice walk around 6 p.m. when the sun was beginning to set and the weather was fairly warm. Snow was melting and we even smelled a few BBQs.

We took our two-mile route, expecting everything to remain peaceful. As we were making a turn and heading down 28th Avenue towards 32nd Street, we noticed a man standing on the corner with a golden retriever.

Assuming a dog is friendly is a worse mistake than assuming it is aggressive.

Because of the golden’s breed, I wasn’t very concerned. My mom’s golden has some leash aggression issues, and I know Elsie is harmless.

This owner, though, concerned me more than the dog.

“No! No barking!” he yelled as the dog lunged and barked at Ace and I. “No!”

But the man’s “scolding” was followed by him jumping up and down and yelling, “Is that your doggy friend? Is that your friend? Look, a doggy friend!”

The guy seemed very immature. For a half-second I thought I should say something to him. I knew his excitement was causing his dog to act excited and aggressive, and he seemed to be totally unaware of this. I hate to admit it, but part of the reason I let it go was because the dog was a golden retriever.

I was also thinking of my own dog’s safety. The excitement from the man-and-dog pair made Ace a little nervous too. Ace’s hair was standing up on his back, and he kept looking over at them. I mean, who wouldn’t? The guy was yelling at us, pointing and jumping!

I said hi but kept Ace at my side away from the other dog and kept walking.

We were met immediately by another man and his pointer. Pointers are another breed people assume to be friendly and harmless. The three of us were all within 10 feet from one another at this point. I assumed the two men knew each other and were on some kind of running date.

The golden’s owner kept jumping up and down saying, “Look! Doggy friends!”

I was jealous that Ace and I didn’t have walking buddies, but we continued on our way. Ace looked up at me, and I swear he rolled his eyes. “Some people …”

We heard the shrieking from the dogs before we even got a block away.

There was not much Ace and I could do, but I went back to make sure everyone was OK.

Two women ran out from their houses and threw water over the dogs to break up the fight.

I did not get too close. Bringing another male dog into the situation would’ve been dangerous, so we stayed several yards back. As one woman ran back into her house, I yelled, “Are you guys OK?”

She yelled back that she thought so.

The men and dogs kept at each other. There was definitely too much testosterone in one spot.

I saw that the pointer had “locked” onto the golden and the two men did not get them apart for about a minute. Once they did, they stood there yelling at one another and their dogs went at it again within seconds.

“I don’t know you!”

“Get away from me!”

“Get your dog outa here!”

Other people came out of their houses and one man yelled something like, “Hey! Get your dogs and go home! Get those dogs away from each other!”

Well, duh.

Once again, I’m not sure you can train stupid owners.

Ace and I walked away at that point realizing the damage had been done and we didn’t need to get ourselves involved. I didn’t see any blood from where we were standing, so most likely the incident sounded a lot worse than it really was – the human fight and the dogfight, that is.

On our walk home I kept thinking to myself what an idiot that owner with the golden was and why hadn’t I said anything when I first saw him? What if he’d let his dog get closer to Ace? What if a child had been out walking his or her dog and had been attacked? What if that pointer had been a shih tzu?

We have big problems when two grown men older than me can’t control their dogs. The only thing that would’ve been worse is if the dogs had been on Flexi leashes.

In suburban areas like south Fargo, there are a lot of unexercised, untrained, leash aggressive dogs that haven’t been socialized. I come across dogs like this almost every day.

There are thousands of neighborhoods out there just like mine. For you responsible dog owners out there who are reading this, sometimes it’s better to walk away. But sometimes we need to speak up.

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