First, let me preface with the established fact that I am not a dog person. People who know me nod and smile when I make this proclaimation, but it’s true. I’m not a dog person. I tolerate friends’ and family’s dogs but never, ever will I be a person who owns one. Although, I’m not a dog hater, either.

However, at the risk of alienating … well, what seems to be our total readership (what’s up with you people!?!? :>) ) I need to vent.

This evening, Aidan was pretty antsy, and indicated he wanted to go out. Kinda like a dog I guess. He took my hand, walked to the upstairs gate, and clearly wanted it opened. We went downstairs where he took my hand again and went to the front door. He hadn’t been for a walk today, and Gwen declared that she could use a walk, so we fixed everybody up and headed outside. Aidan walked holding our hands out to the curb and halfway down the street. This took almost 10 minutes mind you, but I figure that encouraging him to walk in any manner is a Good Thing.

So, we swung by that paragon of Fine Dining (Wendy’s) and took our meal down to Charleson Park on the seawall. Charleson park is a large park, divided into *two* areas that allow dogs to run off-leash, and the rest of the park, including the children’s playground area is just like the rest of Vancouver (excepting some specified off-leash areas) … your dog is required to be leashed at all times.

We set ourselves up on a nice grassed hill overlooking False Creek, well away from the dog parks. In fact, on the far west side of the area noted as “Playground … no dogs”. We sat on the ground, let Aidan walk around (Yes, walk. Unaided. No, we didn’t have the camera. No, he wouldn’t do it again at home. Yes, bummer.) We were eating our supper, and I had commented to Gwen about the several dogs that were running around *amid* the playground equipment. Irritating, but since they weren’t bothering me, a minor annoyance.

What I really objected to, however, was when a loose dog came up to us and started scarfing down my french fries. I grabbed the dog by the collar, walked to the edge of the hill and used my outside voice. In another life, I’m sure I was a drill sergeant. I sure grabbed the attention of the two or three dozen people in the vicinity. And maybe some of those across False Creek too. Eventually the owner of the dog came wandering over to retrieve her beast. She was an older woman (50-ish?) and had two more off-leash dogs trailing her. I don’t know what kind of dogs they were … I’m not a dog person, remember? Anyhow, I was a little worked up, and pointed out to her that her dog was off-leash in an on-leash area, and that I was having dinner with my wife and child, and expected to be able to do that without sharing it with her mangy mutt eating my supper. I also pointed out that even were we in an off-leash area, her dog certainly wasn’t under control as required, was it? The fact that I was having this discussion with her at thirty paces in my outside voice added some emphasis to my points. As she came closer, she did agree that her dog was in fact off-leash in an on-leash area, and no, it wasn’t under control, and she was very sorry that it had eaten my dinner. She walked up and clipped a leash on the dog and beat a retreat back to the seawall, trailing one of the other off-leash dogs behind her. Yes, one. The other one stayed with us, eyeing the rest of my fries hungrily. And, so, I had to use my outside voice again.

For what it’s worth, every single dog within sight — except this woman’s third (and best behaved) dog — was leashed by the time I sat back down.

Seriously people! Show some common courtesy would you? It’s not my fault you’ve chosen to live in a shoe box in a densely populated area with an animal that requires more space than you have to offer. The fact that over 2/3 of this park is designated as “off-leash” should be a boon for you! But in the rest of the g-d city, especially in those areas specifically designated as “no dogs” keep your g-d dogs on their g-d leashes. Don’t let them run around. People in these areas do not want to be bothered by your quivering mass of furry mindlessness. I wish I could threaten something suitably nasty, but it’s not the dogs’ fault and it makes no sense to do anything to them. And it’s pretty much illegal to do anything to the owners. And just like traffic enforcement, there’s no by-law enforcement in Vancouver (other than the meter maids). I can’t count the number of times that a loose dog has either darted out in front of me on my bike, or decided that it’s going to “play” with a child who is not so interested (yet to happen to my child, but that owner will rue the day).

I can only come to the conclusion that some small yet terribly visible minority of dog owners suffers from a peculiar form of mental illness.

All was not lost though. We finished the rest of our meal in peace, and both Aidan and Gwen were much better off for the time outside. A woman, who obviously had not been in the area 15 minutes earlier, even came over with her leashed little dog. She claimed her dog liked small children and Aidan was thrilled to be able to pet and scratch this little dog. He’s so good with animals now. He literally quivers with excitement and restraint. Off-leash proponents, note the big difference between this encounter and the previous. First, the little dog was on a leash. Second, the little dog was under control. Third, the little dog’s owner came and essentially asked permission to bother us. And it was fine. Keep your frackin’ dogs on their leashes!

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