As a dog parent, there are few things I appreciate in life more than a nice dog walk. However, not all dog walking is equal, nor is everything I encounter on a dog walk under my control. With that said, there are several things that can, and have, gone wrong while walking my dogs. Some of them I encounter repeatedly.
Today marks the beginning of National Walk Your Dog Week. So in the name of fierce determination in seeking that perfect dog walk, here are some tales of bad behavior (human and dog) as well as humor. The top 11 lame things about walking the dog are listed below in no particular order.
You might wonder why this matters. Well, trying to pick poop out of thorny brush with a plastic bag wrapped around your hand is challenging at best. More than once I’ve been pricked by the thorns on a blackberry shrub while trying to get my dog’s poop out. Plus, if the thorns poke a hole in the bag, your hand may get contaminated.
This is pretty much a guarantee when I set out to walk the dogs along with my 17-year-old, Zinnia, and my six-year-old, Justin. In my fantasy, we’d all get along, all the time, and our interactions would always be calm, kind, and peaceful. While my children are well-behaved at work (teen) and school (six-year-old), every emotional difficulty they experience seems to bubble out when I get home from work.
When we walk together, my kids generally bicker the whole way. They argue about who gets to walk in front, who is walking too close to whom, and whether one looks at the other the wrong way. It drives me insane. I wish I could say that my daughter has never swung a full poop bag at her brother. But I can’t.
This is one of the things that irritates the hell out of me as a dog parent. I always leash my dogs when I leave the house. It is the right thing to do if you live in the city. There is too much traffic, too many people, and, of course, there are other dogs.
I like dogs. I like people who have dogs. But I hold a great deal of contempt and judgment for those who let their dogs prance all over the neighborhood without a leash. Inevitably those dogs will trot up to my dogs. My little dogs are often scared of other dogs, particularly large ones. And for some reason it is the large ones who are always wandering off-leash.
In Seattle, there is a leash law and I think it should be obeyed. Your dog’s freedom is not more important than my desire to safely walk outside with my kids and my dogs. And yes, children can be unpredictable. They jump all over and move around erratically. At a park for humans, they should be able to play freely without being approached by an off-leash dog. I don’t care if it’s the nicest dog in the world. I don’t want it walking up to me, my kids, or my dogs in an area where the leash law is in effect.
This invariably happens when I’m far from a sink with which to wash my hands. I am no Martha Stewart or germaphobe, but I don’t like to walk around with crap on my hands.
Once in a while I incorrectly guess the number of bags that will be required on my walk. In these cases, there is always at least one more canine shit session left.
Now, I would never want my dog to poop in someone else’s yard. That is very rude. So I do my best to avoid that from happening. One time Lilly was about to poop after I’d run out of bags so I literally started running with her to this overgrown, undeveloped plot of land two blocks away in an attempt to avoid her pooping in somebody’s yard.
In warm weather, I often wear Keens while walking my dogs. They are not the most fashionable shoes, but they are quick and easy to put on and work well while traversing the outdoors.
The only problem I have had with them is one time shit got squished inside them. My guess is that one of the dogs kicked it into my sandal after they pooped.
Almost as bad as having crap inside my Keens was having Zinnia and her boyfriend ridicule me for wearing them. “I’ll never wear Keens,” he remarked to her as we sat peacefully in the dog park one summer evening. It was as though I’d sunk to a shameful low point in my life. “Well, I am going to buy you Danskos for Christmas, Jordan,” I told him. I chuckled to myself at the image of him wearing clogs in Texas, where he would be staying with his extended family.
Generally we are prepared for our dogs to poop during a walk. In fact, it is one of the main reasons for the walk: to allow him or her to relieve themselves. The problem arises when suddenly it’s my turn and I have to poop in a very real way. This is one of those things that tend to happen at the least opportune time. I am not a jogger, but I probably find myself walking briskly home, almost like a prancing speed walker. Fortunately, this does not happen frequently.
This is right up there with the people who let their dogs off-leash in areas where leash laws are in effect. I don’t throw my garbage on the ground. I’ve taught my children not to do it. It is a habit that is particularly low-class in my mind.
It’s even worse now that I have dogs, because they are very interested in other people’s discarded garbage. We’ve encountered cast-off sausages, potato chips, chocolate, ant-infested bananas, popcorn, apple cores, corndog sticks, and chewed gum. Inevitably, my dogs smell these long before I see them and it’s always a struggle to keep them away from these potentially hazardous pieces of garbage. So irritating.
I now know why most “normal” people walk their dogs during the daylight hours. With fall’s impending arrival, we don’t have as much light as we did a month ago. Finding ourselves in the dog park after dusk allowed me to see a plethora of odd characters whose presence I hadn’t noticed during the day. Some of these people have large dogs that lurk along with them, of course off-leash. Much better to walk the dogs while there is sunlight.
One time my son really wanted to put the leash on Lilly, so he did. Moments later she was running free. Turns out he had latched the leash to the little ring that holds her dog tags and it busted while she was pulling. Her tags scattered and she started hopping around. Fortunately she did not run away; we were able to latch her leash to the D-ring on her dog collar and all was well. But we’ve also had a couple of dogs escape collars and harnesses. Fortunately, my dogs are mama’s girls who come to me quickly when called.
Daisy doesn’t really like to walk that much. She’s like a dead weight when I am trying to get my very active May Belle and Lilly out for a vigorous walk. Daisy prefers to stop and smell the roses. Except not really the roses, but more like the pee trail left by all the other dogs in the neighborhood. She is quite also adept at finding the food scraps left about. Daisy’s ideal walk would probably have me moving at the pace of taking one step. Stop. Take another step. Stop. And so on and so forth. So if I really want to get moving, I leave her at home. This makes me feel a little guilty, but I hate tugging her on the leash. It feels so undignified.
Even when there are problems, I still hold high regard for the dog walks I have in my life today. I love my dogs and I enjoy being outside with them. Some days I feel lazy and don’t go, but those are the exception. Dog walks really are one of the best things in life. And the quirky ones leave good memories anyway.
What bothers you when you take your dogs for a walk? Tell us your stories in the comments!
Learn more about dogs with Dogster:
About the author: Kezia Willingham is a Breadwinning Laundry Queen who works as a Health Coordinator for Head Start. She is a regular contributor to Catster and Dogster. Her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and multiple anthologies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, which includes a number of rescued cats and dogs. You can follow her on Twitter.