Friday, August 12, 2011

Your dog, not mine

To me, all this to-do about dogs running loose and harassing us is a very interesting exercise in human behavior. Not being judgemental is rather difficult because I was directly involved but I am trying. In attempting to sort out the facts with as little emotion as possible:
All of us connected with the traumatic episode, to me anyway, are all nice people and otherwise good neighbors.
Absolutely no one feels inconvenienced or endangered except the two of us who were approached by "Buffy" and "Cuddles", two dogs running loose on public property.
From what I have heard and observed the two dog owners appear to have no remorse or accept any responsibility for the attack.
The premise is that the two offending dogs are only "yappers" and have never bitten anyone.
The general consensus is that I am taking offense for something that could have been easily avoided by not walking on the sidewalk in that area. In other words; I caused the altercation. Not only from the dog owners but several other people from the area that either witnessed the event or heard of it.
Those dogs are well loved by everyone and I am actually treading on thin ice by insinuating they are dangerous in any way whatsoever. It's almost blasphemy.
The police have chosen not to be involved any more than the possibility of a phone call. It's not their job, said the officer.
If a person sees an illegal act that can cause injury to another human being and does nothing, the law states that they are legally liable for any resulting injury.

So, what to do? From these observations I have concluded that:
We have the law and common sense on our side because our rights have been violated and our health and safety put in jeopardy due to neglect on the part of the dog owners.
According to city ordinance it is a violation to allow a dog to harass or approach or cause anyone to fear for their safety on a public sidewalk. There are legal and civil consequences for not restraining your dog.
If I push this further or press any charges, the entire neighborhood will shun me.

There is no apparent physical injury, I should be over the anxiety and able to sleep sometime in the near future. How important is it? Do I want harmony in the neighborhood I've lived in for 30 years or do I want to make sure we can safely walk our streets without fear from these and other dogs? Should I let "sleeping dogs lie"?

What is it that I hope to accomplish here? It is my practice to take at least 3 days to make major decisions whenever possible. We're all good people here so being the immediate threat is over I will do just that..........

Thursday, August 11, 2011

People and their dogs and other people

No big deal!............ Get over it!.......... Get a life!.......... Leave it be!................ Forget about it!

I am finding it very interesting to observe the reaction of individuals when it comes to certain events which may or may not result in catastrophe. No, there were no apparent, lasting consequence's following the barking dog assault. Of course, some things do not present themselves immediately but we'll assume everything is OK for now. At the risk of repeating myself, here is what happened in a nut shell: We were walking on a public sidewalk, two illegally, unrestrained, unsupervised, agitated dogs ran at us barking aggressively and acting in every way that they could and quite possibly would bite or jump on us. I jumped in between us and them and by yelling and flaying my arms defensively and kicking, scared them away. The most aggressive and most unpredictable dog had come within two or three inches of us before backing off. In my opinion this was an experience to give anyone pause as to their safety. If it had been a child or a less defensive person than I there may well have been blood drawn from the overall scenario. I found it upsetting.

The part I find interesting is how those people responsible handle the situation: Otherwise a nice guy, albeit sometimes very opinionated and outspoken, One of the offenders chooses to deny any responsibility whatsoever and shift the blame of the whole thing onto my shoulders by pointing out that he owns his home, pays taxes and as long as he does it is his right to allow his dog to roam freely on his part of the street. I knew he did and the reason it all happened is because we were walking there........?.........Now I better watch my step because he is going to watch my every action and report me to the police every time I commit an infraction. I'm still trying to work all that out. I'm am not angry you understand, I just want to understand how to prevent this sort of thing in the future. So far I think it means that I should stay clear of where he chooses to allow his dog to roam or suffer the consequences. Whatever they may be.

The other appears to ignore that it ever happened. Also a very nice, hard working and friendly person. From what I can gather the offense simply did not happen. Nope! We didn't go for a walk, we weren't confronted by her dog, there was no yelling, or barking or anything. There is no reason to talk about it. No reason to apologize. No reason to inquire if everyone is OK. I guess the reasoning behind that thought process is that: If you deny it ever happened, then it didn't and you don't have to face any responsibility of ignoring the law and the warnings and pleas of your neighbors for over 4 years. Everything will go back to normal eventually, right?

The other thing I am mulling over is the reaction of the police officer I reported this incident to. I have received no notification as to whether they contacted the dog owners or not. No one let me called to let me know. Another part is what he explained to me: You must understand that the police have no way of handling an unrestrained dog. If a confrontation happens again I need to capture the dog and call animal control. If I understood him correctly there is no law against allowing your dog to harass passers by on a public sidewalk or road. I know that to be incorrect because I received a copy of the city ordinance in the mail from someone else that obviously has a problem with this batch of free roaming, barking dogs.

I've gathered that the consensus seems to be that in some way I caused the incident by taking a walk in my own neighborhood, less than 300 feet from my own front door, on a public sidewalk, with the knowledge that some people allow their animals to run free and harass their neighbors. I should have known better. That's the attitude I seem to be getting so far. I guess I'm a real trouble making jerk here for asking folks to abide by the same laws as I do. Yeah, I should have known better. I'm starting to think I need a dog so I better understand the situation. This is all quite interesting and I'm learning a lot about people and how much they care about the health and welfare those around them compared to their dogs. Even if it is a little disappointing.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dog attack, trying to reconcile and threats

It's been two days since being accosted on a public sidewalk by a pair of barking, aggressive, threatening dogs owned by two of my neighbors. It's been two sleepless nights filled with anxiety too. I did report it to the police of course and the officer said they'd call the arrent dog owners but I am not at all sure that they did because the offending dogs were running loose again yesterday just as before with the full knowledge of their owners. If I want to avoid them I have to avoid walking in that direction on my own street. Less than 300 feet from my own front door. The encounter we had was with two dogs. However, there are actually up to five dogs that run loose, unrestrained from time to time like a pack. I don't like ill feelings between neighbors. I was sure we could reach some kind of understanding so I spoke with one of the dog owners this morning as he took his daily walk with his dog. (It was restrained and well behaved on a 3 foot leash.) He exhibited no interest in what I had to say nor did he display any remorse for the danger his dog presented by running loose and accosting us. His response was that he pays his taxes and he can do what he pleases in that area. When I start paying his taxes I can have something to say about him and what he chooses to do with his dog. His conclusion was that it wouldn't have happened if we would have walked somewhere else. He accepted absolutely no responsibility for what transpired. We should have avoided being there. He couldn't help that his dog got loose and ran away while he was talking to another neighbor. He said if I didn't like his dog running loose I should call the cops. I said I already did. He then threatened that he will start calling the cops on every little thing I do wrong. I asked if he knew that my wife had just returned home from major surgery and was in a full neck brace to prevent sudden movement or complications. N0, he said. Quickly changed the subject and went on to describe how his wife suffered serious injury from his dog pulling her off her feet and dragging her as if that justified in some way why his dog was running loose. I didn't get the connection and said so. He said again that he was going to start calling the cops on me for everything I do wrong and that he didn't want to talk to me any more and then walked away appearing very much to not agree with my attempt to reconcile our differences and come to an agreement concerning walking on our sidewalks without fear of being confronted by an unrestrained dog.

So, my attempt to smooth things over between neighbors and reach a truce of some kind was for naught. The only understandable response was threats and making sure I understood that his dog or any other dog could run loose and it was up to me to avoid those public areas that they ran in or I will face the consequences. It almost sounded like bullying to me. At least I felt it very much resembled the bullying I faced in school when I was a kid. I don't accept bullying to any degree no matter who it is from. I've been bullied by the best of them and I learned a long time ago that people who threaten you will continue to do so as long as you allow them to. Another thing about threats is that as long as they are secret they will continue.

I want to make it clear that I like dogs as much as the next person. I feel that allowing them to run free is good for them. After all they need the exercise. I don't feel that the public right of way is the place to do it. Especially when it is against the law and endangers anyone or makes them feel threatened. There always seems to be someone even the best of dogs doesn't like. I've been bitten twice, seriously, requiring medical attention and stitches. My daughter has been bitten and required medical attention. All three times was by a "wonderful family pet" that wouldn't harm a flea. Now, by trying to work this all out between respectful neighbors has been met by threats. It just doesn't seem right to me that I'm made out to be the bad guy here. Yes, apparently I'm to blame for being attacked by two unrestrained dogs on a public sidewalk. But I've only spoken with one owner. Maybe more will become known after I speak to the other one. I won't allow it to happen again to anyone in my neighborhood if I can help it. It's just not right to me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free range dogs

It was the last straw. For over 5 years I've wasted a lot of words trying to explain to a couple of dog lovers my position on letting their beloved animals run loose through the streets unleashed, in violation of city law. "All" Dogs are to be on a 6 foot leash or retained on the owners premesis in a way that pedestrians may walk the public sidewalk without interference or harrassment. Apparently, the dogs I am speaking of are "special" and aren't subject to local ordinances so I have to avoid the area or suffer the consequences of being accosted by several aggressive, barking dogs. My own neighborhood! I've requested these neighbors keep their animals restrained. I've demanded they keep their animals restrained. Someone sent copies of the animal ordinances to homeowners a few months ago so I know I'm not the only one that has an issue here. I've been told these particular dogs are more scared of me than I am of them. "They only bark." they said. Yeah, uh hu. That's why the mailman said he wasn't going to deliver mail at that end of the street when the dogs were out because he'd been bit, not once but twice.
These dogs aren't responsible for this. They, of course are only animals and only do what they are allowed to do by their owners. I realize that.

Yesterday I was taking a walk, on the public sidewalk, on a beautiful evening, with someone that is less than a week out of major surgery. She is in a half body brace to keep her neck still so as not to disturb the proper healing. About halfway through the walk, less than 300 feet from our own front door. Walking slowly and carefully along the public sidewalk, to avoid sudden movement when we were approached by one of these wayward dogs, barking and jumping at us as if to bite, another dog quickly followed and displayed the same aggressive behavior. It appeared very much like the "pack" mentallity. The owners were quite a distance away and the one with the most aggressive, most unpredictable dog made no attempt to retrieve his animal except to yell. The other owner did her best, I guess to retrieve her dog but it simply ran away as if playing a game. I for my part, yelled, jumped forward in between my wife and the dogs and did my best to scare them away. It worked for the most part and other than the trauma of feeling attacked, luckily no apparent physical harm to my wife due to sudden defensive movements that we were trying to avoid. Only time will tell now. I, normally a soft spoken pussy cat, swore, really swore, loudly at either one or both of the irresponsible owners. I have my limits and that was certainly one of them. What really surprised me was that, these dog owners, our very own neighbors who I am ever ready to assist if trouble arrises, made absolutely no effort to see if any harm was done or to apologize although they sat on their front porch afterwards to discuss something as they watched us talk to other concerned neighbors and leave. You never really know the integrity of someone until something like this comes up do you? I am terribly dissaapointed in them.

What do I do next? I've spoken to them many times about their dogs running loose. I guess further discussion would be fruitless. However, I will not continue to be bullied in my own neighborhood by the thoughtless actions of a few. Would you?...................Joe

Monday, August 8, 2011

Food, canning and writing

Wheeooo! It's been a real busy summer. Working, tending to my family, planning for my bike tour around Lake Michigan, yard work, gardening and yesterday, of all things, gaining a new skill, canning pickles. Canning for the first time sure takes a lot of trust if you ask me. Dozens and dozens of pickles, sliced and speared and seasoning and cooking and washing and boiling dozens of jars of pickles without knowing the result until after they are packed, sealed and cooled for a day. Waiting for the tops to pop was kind of fun. Tops popping mean they are sealed all good and proper for a long life on the food shelves. Then the wait until the next morning so I could get that tell tale taste, be it good and go on the shelves or be it bad and they get dumped in the compost pile and all that effort for naught....................."Fantsatic!" I just love it when everything comes together. Gardening this year has so far brought in a wealth of zuchini for meals now and bread in the winter. Yesterday I pulled some of the beets for tonights dinner too. After a few meals I will be canning some of them too. They are super sweet, dark red and delicious so I'll have to make sure I have a reliable, proven canning recipe. I am at a complete loss as to what to do with the excess egg plant after the many expected mouth watering, fried and parmesian meals. I don't know of any way of preserving that stuff because the flesh has such an odd texture and turns dark immediately upon pealing the beautiful, dark purple skin. In a week or two the tomatoes will be coming in and they will be canned too. Add a few peppers and onions and I have stewed tomatoes for winter time stew or goulash. Add spices, more peppers, more onions, loads of garlic, a little mollasses, hot peppers, mix well and suddenly I have jars and jars of salsa for my homemade potatoe chips, crispy corn wedges or rice cakes. Yeah, this canning stuff has gotten under my skin just a bit hasn't it?

We are all watching our purse strings lately. That's kind of one reason I decided to take up canning this year. I spent $19 on ingredients besides the garden bounty and as a result saved over $100 on food just using extra time and having fun. Now I have another story for the sequal to Joe's Story. That's really what it's all about you know. Writing!...........................Joe
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