Tag Archives: Race when it isn’t relevant

Saying the right thing at the right time

I have peeves. One of them is people who don’t control their dogs in public. My state has a leash law. My community has a leash law. Still, I routinely encounter dog owners with their pets off-leash in public spaces. (Even leashes aren’t a cure-all when the owner isn’t paying attention and/or lets the lead on the leash out way past the point they can control or monitor their dog. Sometimes owner & dog are so far apart I don’t initially realize there’s a leash between them, and when I do, it doesn’t fully win my confidence.😕)

The people who let their dogs off the leash usually have “reasons” why having their dog off-leash is okay: He/she is friendly. He/she doesn’t like leashes. I only took the leash off momentarily for “x” reason. No one else was here. My dog likes to run free. My dog likes to go in the water. He/she always comes when I call. My dog wants to say hello. It’s a good/obedient dog. It’s never bit me. It’s never bit anyone. He/she is old. Dogs should be allowed to run around. My dog wants to play. Dogs have rights too. And, if the owners don’t have one of the aforementioned or other reasons at the ready, they can always trot out the bon mot supposedly intended to put anyone taking issue with their illegal behavior unequivocally in their place: You must hate dogs.😣

I was out for an early morning walk. I was moving at a good clip along a public sidewalk in a residential area and saw a black guy (this becomes relevant) standing off to the left in a grassy area. When he saw me (a white lady) he picked up his pace, in my general but not exact direction. As I came closer I saw, previously obscured by shrubbery, a large, scary-looking dog off-leash with a thick chain collar (choke chain?) around its neck. On seeing the dog, I quickly stepped out into the street, at which point the guy, leash in hand, grabbed the dog, offering a reassuring comment to me, something along the lines of, “He won’t bother you.”

I kept walking but said, firmly and not smiling, “It should be leashed all the time. It’s the law.” As the distance between me and the dog owner grew, he retorted, “I see white people with their dogs off leash.”

I know you’re not supposed to argue with strangers. I know it’s best to let some (most?) things go. I know I was tired and not in a great mood. But in an instant, that instant, I loudly called over my shoulder exactly what I was thinking, no filters, no hesitation,

“It’s the law for the white people too!”

What was he going to say to that? Nothing in the moment.

This encounter irked me on more than one level but I am so glad I said what I did. It was the sort of thing you (I) usually think up after the fact when grumbling to one’s self, “I should have just said X“.

Later on in my walk (I was on a 4-mile loop) I saw the guy and his now leashed dog, but at a distance. I had no intentions of interacting again nor would I ever. Arguing with strangers is unwise, I get that. I had my moment. I’ll steer clear (and keep my mouth shut) should our paths cross. A civil nod if it’s appropriate maybe.

Finally, as a last thought, I googled the phrase I uttered and did not find it.