Pin Up with DogDog owners are weird. I should know. I am one. But Vancouver has its own dog culture and it’s very different to that in South Africa (more on that in a bit).

I’ve now had six incidents with my dog that prove to me that some Vancouver dog owners are a breed unto themselves….

Incident #1: My dog was being an ass and was not listening to the warning snarls and nearly had his throat crushed by a fed up Rottweiler. Not having learned his lesson, he then decided to keep playing rough and tumble and the Rottie’s mastiff friend stepped in to take a bite out of his juicy Frenchie bat ears. I know he was pissing them off with his rambunctiousness (he was a pup at the time) and it was his fault that the Rottie turned on him, but not the mastiff. What interested me was the reaction (or lack thereof) of the dog owner. My dog was bleeding from the ear and the guy didn’t say anything, ask if it was ok, even imply it was our dog’s own fault. Zero response.  Although my dog was largely at fault, his attacked unprovoked.

Incident #2: A woman  let her hound off leash and it ran straight at my dog, who was innocently splashing around in the sea, and tried to take a bite out of him repeatedly. The woman had no control over the dog, said that he wasn’t really biting, and then when I pointed out the blood seeping from behind my dog’s ear,  made a sort of half-hearted apology.

Incident #3: A woman had a wiemerana on leash at an off-leash park and the dog was barking (we heard it coming from the other side of the beach). Hers was the only dog on leash and when my dog ran up to play with it and jumped up, the owner (again who had no control over her dog)  immediately started freaking out and kicked at my dog and was twisting her dog around on its leash. Of course being a stubborn part bulldog, this just made my dog more excited and jumpy. We were immediately trying to get him away and this woman was shrieking and telling us to get him off her dog. She proceeded to yell at us, after I told her not to kick my dog, and told her we were trying to get him under control, and then her husband stepped in and starting yelling at us, telling us to “move along”. I couldn’t believe how entitled and rude these people were, especially after another dog owner stepped in and was telling them that their dog was the one who attacked mine, not the other way round. The husband then started yelling and swearing at this guy, so we just moved down the beach. When we came back (after the doos and his wife had left), a bunch of other people on the beach came up to us and said they were ready to step in if it had escalated further and tell the couple to piss off, because their dog had apparently been barking for about 2 hours non-stop and had attacked another dog.

Incidents #4 and #5: I was in an off-leash dog park and a dog just randomly ran up and attacked my dog. The owner’s response was “Is he a puppy?”. Because, you know, those puppies are assholes and it’s fully justifiable for another dog to attack a puppy. They deserve it. The same thing happened when we were walking in an on-leash park and a dog ran up (off leash) and attacked my dog. The owner was cycling and was about 8 metres down the way (on a no cycling allowed path, with his dog off leash in an on-leash only section….)

Incident #6. I just came back from the park and had to clean a bite on my dog’s face and head. He ran up to check out a dog that was on leash and and when it started growling and barking, he went at it and the woman immediately started doing the same thing as above – kicking him, pulling at her dog, yelling, etc. A guy she was with stepped in and pushed/kicked my dog out the way. I got control of my dog and I told her I didn’t appreciate her kicking my dog and the response was that she thought it was better than if her dog attacked and bit him, because that’d be worse… Luckily this woman was fairly reasonable and we ended up having a calm chat about the dogs and it didn’t escalate, but I could tell her dog was aggressive as I’d seen it earlier off leash jumping at other dogs and running around the playground area. Now it was in an on-leash section and I had decided to let him off to play with a Boston that was interested in him, so I was at fault in having him off leash, but the reaction from the woman, again, was very odd. I do agree with her (after some thought), that kicking is better than inevitable rips/tears/stitches, but I also thought well if her dog is that fearful and aggressive, should it be at a public park? While I was chatting to her, it also tried to take a swipe at another dog that went by, so I’m not too sure why she had it in the area. I only noticed the cuts  when I had him back in the car.

Now before you say that the common denominator is my dog and he shouldn’t be jumping at other dogs, I get it. He shouldn’t be. But in all these cases, except the first, he was not actually instigating but trying to play and then reacting. And yes, today I should’ve kept him on leash and I admit that I was at fault, but I’m also always ready to admit when/if he is at fault and if he gets attacked when he’s clearly not obeying the warning signals of other dogs. I always watch what he is doing, discipline him, and try and ensure he is under control, despite how stubborn he is. I hate irresponsible dog owners and so strive not to be one.

He does have the genetic disadvantages of no tail, what has been described by the pizza delivery guy as a “mean face,” and a bulldog’s need to dominate the world, but my issue is always with the owners who don’t control their dogs, not the dogs themselves.

Part of the issue that I’ve encountered seems to be the treatment of these animals as people’s children (god, the term “pet parent” makes me want to hurl). They’re like the equivalent of the parents whose child is busy smacking another on the head with a plastic lorry and they respond with “ooh isn’t is nice how they’re playing”. They can’t admit any wrong, they have a large sense of entitlement (the park is theirs, clearly), and they aren’t too keen on the idea of actually having to control and discipline their dogs.

On the flipside, the positive is that Vancouver (and surrounds) has a lot of different parks for dogs (beaches, forest walks, river parks etc.) and for the most part, the majority dog owners all seem to be fairly responsible (although not prone to obeying the park rules). In South Africa, dog owners’ ideas of walking their dogs entail opening the gate to let them wander down the road and shit all over the neighbours’ lawns. Because a lot of people have enclosed gardens (and the weather is much better), they tend to leave their dogs outside a lot of the time, which equals a lot of noisy barking. And a lot of people view their dogs simply as guard dogs, not pets.

And so even something as mundane as pet ownership has its cultural differences. Not something I’d ever thought of before really, but yet another reminder that I’m in a different country…