Aaarghh. Dog owners!

I’m not one to rant. Really, I’m not.

But I have to get something off my chest. What is it with dog owners in this world of ours?

As a runner you spend a goodly amount of time outside so you come into contact with this most selfish of species on a regular basis and O to the M. to the flipping G does it open your eyes.

I was out for a nice run – a planned interval session in a beautifully maintained bridleway. It should have been idyllic, but as I turned a corner I heard a bark, a growl and then saw a black labrador hurtling towards me at top speed.

It’s owner haplessly begged her dog to ‘heel’ and ‘calm down’ but it was having none of it and snapped at my heels with its hackles raised. Having three children I can be fairly authoritative at times and bellowed “Hey. Stop that!”.

Not my best constructed sentence but I was jammin’ in a crisis situation. The dog paused in its fury and a few seconds later its owner managed to bring it under control.

No-one was hurt in the making of this rant. However, I suggested to the dog’s owner – who seemed perfectly pleasant and I am sure is kind to kittens, gives to charity and would never vote Brexit – that if she was unable to control her dog, perhaps she shouldn’t have it off the lead?

Her response? “He would never actually hurt anyone.”

I jogged on trying not to react as my heart rate slowed from hummingbird levels and my buttocks unclenched from their rock-like state.

But I have two questions:
  1. Is that the point? Does it matter that I wasn’t injured, just scared witless for a measly 30 seconds? I would argue that no, it does not.
  2. What if I had been with my children? I can guarantee that one of them would have tried to flee in terror, and how would the dog have reacted then?
I have been bitten twice by dogs while out running. On the first occasion the owner was deeply apologetic and no longer allowed their dog to roam free in their garden (it escaped as I ran past), on the second the owner said it ‘wasn’t really biting me but it didn’t have hands so how else was it going to hold on during its game’?

I have also been a journalist for 20 years – mostly in local newspapers and I have covered a fair few dog attacks. The owners’ responses always escalate in the same manner:
  1.          He/she would never bite anyone
  2.          I don’t know how that happened, he/she is not usually a biter
  3.          He/she only bites when she/he’s scared
  4.          I can usually control him/her
  5.          I can’t believe my gorgeous Rex savaged that child.
Dogs are beautiful, loyal creatures. Dog owners need to accept that they are responsible for the dog’s behaviour at all times and not just make excuses when their pets threaten people.

Rant over. For now - you have been warned.

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