Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wheelchairs and dogs

"Do you want to pet him?" - asks an owner of a dog every time I pass a man's best friend on a sidewalk or one is running towards me in my apartment complex. And I really do not. Not because I don't like dogs, I had one when I was growing up. Most of the time I can't predict how it will behave around me. Most puppies didn't grow up around wheelchairs. Someone rolling in their direction makes them scared and uncomfortable. Sometimes they go out of their way to go around me or in a completely opposite direction, with the owners pulling them forward. And when the dog is uncomfortable, so am I, because I don't feel that safe around pets I don't know in the first place. Stressed by the unfamiliarity of the rolling big wheels with a human passengers the small ones get excited and bark loudly, even as their masters try to calm them down, while the larger ones tend to panic as soon as they see me. "I don't know what's gotten over him"- the owner apologizes with embarrassment- "But he doesn't bite". I don't blame the dog, I blame the master. Because you can't predict how an animal will act when it's afraid of something it has never seen before. But when I tell my neighbors that dogs make me tense and I would rather they didn't let their pet run around the courtyard without a leash I get an attitude, or a look that implies I'm not human. If something didn't happen so far, nothing ever will, right? Wrong. It puzzles me, how very little imagination people have in situations like that. When I see a dog frolicking outside my door I'm most likely to go the other way. When I see a person with a dog on a leash as loose they take up 3/4 of the sidewalk I stop until they walk by me. Most   of the time they just get off into the street, because the walkway is not wide enough.

 People forget that there'is no first bite rule in Florida. An owner may still be liable when the dog was not known to be vicious. Even if he has never bitten anyone before. Additionally, biting a person is not only behavior they should be concerned with, but also other forms of injury and damage caused by a dog. Please, supervise your pets. For your benefit and for the good of your pup. But also, so we can all enjoy are neighborhoods without fear. I wanted to end this on a lighter note. My good friend has a dog she adopted from a pound. Henry became so familiar with me and my chair at a very early age that he would not only not fear my chair, but wouldn't get out of my wheels' way as they were rolling

1 comment:

  1. Try having a service dog. I have had many pet owners want their dog to "say Hi" to my service dog... *sigh* I explain that I don't allow my dog to socialize when he's working. And then they want me to take him "off-duty". Not when we're in public. One bite by a strange dog and my service dog would be out of commission and could develop a behavior problem.