Yesterday’s post from Jodi Stone got me thinking about our local dog-owning community.
The one park that I avoid is terrible. It’s the place where I’ve seen, among other things, a man walking two large dogs on pronged collars, while he sipped wine from a stemmed wine glass. It’s also the place where I got into a shouting match with someone who let her pack of off-leash dogs follow poor anxious Silas around the park, while she walked around wearing headphones. We also had just enough weird encounters at the local dog park that we don’t go there anymore. No loss–while Silas did surprisingly well the few times we went, I was an anxious mess.
Otherwise, we’re pretty lucky. We live in a very urban area of a very large city. I can think of stupid things that I see pretty often, but as a percentage of the population it’s miniscule. The better local parks have what I actually consider to be weirdly *few* off-leash dogs, and while those few bother me intellectually they don’t seem to cause problems. Our positive-only training facility is pretty well booked, as is the other one that I considered using. (Their puppy class didn’t have an opening in time for Silas.) I have seen people clicker-training in public. I see Gentle Leaders and Easy-Walk Harnesses, but never electronic collars. There are no dogs languishing in back yards in my neighborhood, because people with back yards have enough money to hire dog-walkers.
Now the perk of living in an urban area is that you can very much shape your own experience. Maybe we’ve just, as with the parks, navigated toward “our kind” of experience with the dog. I’m guessing that, for instance, shoppers who frequent the locally-owned raw food store are, in general, a different subset of the population than people who shop at the suburban big-box stores, who are different again from people who shop at the farm supply stores. In a town with a million options, you have to pick something for some kind of reason, and like-minded people almost inevitably congregate.
We didn’t mean to stay in this town forever, and I’m still not sure that we will. On top of our non-dog reasons, in a lot of ways urban life is very hard on Silas. When we go home to see the family, he has free-run of ten or fifteen private acres, and he is so happy that it’s hard to bring him back here. On the other hand, there’s something very powerful to be said for living in a community that generally agrees with how you feed, train, and manage your dog. People back home would think we’re crazy.
What kind of community do you have? Would you pick something else if you could?