02 May 2017

Saving Toto

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Saving Toto

Toto would be hard pressed to survive on a walk with Dorothy in 2017. And the leashless walks–forget it! The main threat to Toto and small dogs like him—the adoring owners who let their cute canines walk them. You’ve seen that owner the one who walks behind Toto as Toto leads him or her around the streets. And should a bigger dog walk by? Toto’s owner lets his irresistible dog lunge, bark or snap at the passing dog. Sometimes, the daydreaming owner will allow Toto to lunge into the big dog’s lane or even lunge at the big dog’s owner. Yep, Toto wouldn’t survive a minute given the bad judgment I’ve witnessed by Toto owners. Ultimately, the blame for Toto’s demise or injuries attaches to the owner who never bothered to train Toto with basic commands like “Heel, leave it or stay."  

When I walk my German Shepherds on a heel, I can hardly believe how a Toto owner will allow their pint-sized dogs, oftentimes with Napoleon complexes, lash out at my big dogs that are protective of me.  Like cats, it takes just a second to for a big dog to grab a much smaller dog by the neck, shake once and the beloved Toto dies. For that reason, I carry leverage, pepper spray, to protect Toto from the thoughtless owner. I don’t want to see Toto die, and a blast of pepper certainly trumps a dogfight or a lightening quick death.  For other big dog owners, I’ve had to use my leverage more times than, I want to admit, to deal with loose dogs and aggressive dogs who want to fight the biggest guy in the bar.  These days, walking a dog comparable to driving a car—being mindful, smart and safe—crucial to enjoying a day with man’s best friend or a day driving the Mustang fastback.

And by the way, I’m not a dog park person because one never knows what’s racing through the gate. Has it been vaccinated? Has it been caged or ignored for days, making it hyper and aggressive? Does the owner exercise good or bad judgment?  Does the dog respond to recall? Is this dog trained? Will the owner closely watch the dog or chat? When I had to go to dog parks, one person told me if someone’s dog hurt his dog, he would go postal with the knife he always carried. Scary, huh? Another dog park patron pulled apart two dogs, one his own, and tossed the other dog like a football in the dog park. Also, some owners don’t recognize ready to war behavior. And it only takes a split second for a vicious battle to begin. To get a policeman's opinion, I talked to a K-9 officer who told me," Dog parka are awful. Stay away!" After talking to professional dog trainers about dog parks and irresponsible owners, I've learned that we're all disappointed with what we see. Playing ball in the backyard and dog class—sometimes the best options for a happy day with my best friends.