Last week DH and I were out walking our baby in her stroller along with our two Precocious Pooches. One of my dogs is a bit older (3 years) and more mature. She is a very well behaved dog, and I never hear anything to the contrary. In fact, I am constantly getting compliments about how well behaved she is. Everyone who has ever been in contact with her instantly loves her. I actually used to take her to work with me at my previous job because my coworkers loved and adored her. When we go on walks, I often don't put her on a leash because she generally stays right next to the stroller. She doesn't wander off or get into any kind of mischief. She stays right where she knows she is supposed to be.
Our other pup, on the other hand, is just that. A pup. She just barely turned one this year. The breed is known for being hyperactive for the first 2-3 years, and then they hit a turning point and calm down into very gentle, cuddly dogs. As she is a hyperactive pup, however, we cannot trust her to be off leash on walks. Ever. She would run all over helter skelter and get up in other dogs' faces. She even has a tendency to rile up other dogs while she is on leash just by perking up her ears and acting bulky. Usually DH walks her because she tends to pull, while I push the stroller and keep an eye on our other dog.
That being said, both of my dogs are generally well behaved and well trained. I have trained 8 dogs in my short 30-year life so far. I am no greenie to the arena. I have spent thousands of dollars in dog training and socialization classes for my pups. The thing that brings the most pleasure from strangers is that my dogs actually take turns getting the ball when we play fetch. It is not uncommon for passerby to stop and watch my dogs play fetch.
Now back to the story. We were walking along a windy trail that opens up into a grassy area. At the other end of the grassy area, it closes back down to go through some woods and over a bridge. After which point, the path turns a 90 degree angle off into some more woods. DH and I had just entered the clearing, when up ahead just before the bridge there was a woman with an ill-behaved cocker spaniel. She was at least 100 yards ahead of us. Far enough that I could not see her face. We heard the woman call out, "Are both of your dogs on a leash?"
Perplexed, I didn't know why it would matter. Our older dog was minding her business and walking right next to the stroller. I replied that one of them was. She then asked if I would please put my other dog on a leash. Instantly my hackles were up. My dog wasn't misbehaving in any way, shape or form. Obviously this woman had some kind of neurotic need to control absolutely everything in her environment.
As I am not a confrontational person, I begrudgingly obliged. Once my pup was on a leash, the woman crossed the bridge and disappeared around the corner, with her ill-behaved cocker in tow. I irritatedly asked DH why the hell I had to put my pup on a leash, pointing out that the woman's dog did not behave any differently when my dog was on a leash as opposed to when she wasn't, and that the woman could no longer even see us. He was clearly as irritated as I was and told me to take her off her leash. I did.
We then proceeded to walk across the bridge ourselves and around the corner, across another bridge, and into another clearing that opens up to a duck pond. As soon as we entered the clearing, the woman was standing off to the side of the trail waiting for us. I glared at her, then ignored her, and we continued on our way. We did not see her again that night.
DH and I have lived in this area for over a year now and I have never seen this woman before that night. I have asked a few neighbors if they knew her, but no one does. One of them suggested she might be new to the neighborhood. Another offered to go to battle with me if needed.
Thus ends part 1 of our saga. Stay tuned for part 2 that promises a cat fight in front of neighborhood children....