A number of people commented on last week’s blog to say, in essence, “Why didn’t you straighten out that irresponsible dog owner?” All I can say is that it goes against my nature to give advice to people who aren’t asking for some — especially random strangers. I was deeply exasperated with him — but he wasn’t asking me for advice. I may have been negligent in failing to help the dogs . . . but what would you do, really? And what would you do if some stranger in a store told you what you were doing with your dog is all wrong?
This is actually something I’ve struggled with for ages. When my son was a baby I became newly aware and observant of other parents and babies in public places, and sometimes I wouldn’t like what I’d see, such as when (as one example) a parent would yell at or threaten a screaming baby or toddler at the end of his or her rope. I’d think, geez, that baby looks tired and hungry and probably shouldn’t be getting dragged through a supermarket right this second, and yelling at him certainly isn’t going to help anything. But would I go up to a nearly out-of-control parent and tell her that she is just making things worse? Ask her to please not yell at the baby, because there is a better way? Ack! Maybe a person should do that, but I’ve never been able to. I’m always too afraid that the attention will just unhinge the person even more.
And, haven’t most of us been on the receiving end of unsolicited advice? Its often unappreciated, if not resented. And sometimes, it’s just plain wrong! Not long ago, a supermarket checkout person asked me what I was going to do with the chicken necks I was buying. When I said I was going to give them to my dogs, she reacted strongly. “Oh my goodness, that’s so dangerous!” she gasped. “Dogs should never be given bones!” I smiled and said my dogs eat and chew bones all the time and are no worse for wear. I didn’t resent her, not at all, but neither was I going to try to discuss a complex topic like the BARF diet (bones and raw food) with a stranger.
Finally, where do you draw the line? There are other things I do with my dogs that would horrify other dog owners, such as feed dry food (actually, I feed every type of food — raw, canned, dehydrated, dry, home-cooked, etc. — but mostly they eat kibble) and allow them to ride in my car without being buckled into a seat belt or crated. I know a home-prepared diet is healthier, and yet I choose not to feed it daily. I know it’s dangerous for them not to be crated or seat-belted, and yet I take the risk of them being flung out of my car if I get in an accident. Should I be admonished — and equated with the guys who drive with dogs in the back of their trucks completely untethered? What about those who let their dogs drive down the highway with their heads (and shoulders and front paws) hanging out the car window?
I don’t have any answers here, but I am interested in what you think. When would you admonish a stranger for “doing it wrong” with their dog? And how would you do it? What would you say?
And how would you respond if someone approached you and your dog in a public place and told you, “You know, that’s not a great idea to do with your dog . . .”?