Monday, August 25, 2008


This post is called Dumb Dog Owners/Bird Harassers, or DDO/BH for short.

Since rain has been scarce, the upside is that shorebird habitat is blooming everywhere. Marbled godwits have been sighted, little blue and tricolored herons, dowitchers, Western sandpipers....Ohio is hopping with shorebird migration.
I wasn't interested in driving hours to see the marbled godwit, but Armleder Park (about 20 minutes away) has a river.
I was hoping to see a nicely shrunken river and a nicely swollen shore.
Lorelei and I got that, but the birds were a bit lacking.

The river was nice and shallow. Lorelei occupied herself by looking for toads and fish, while I tried to slowly make my way towards a kingfisher perched downriver.
It was a precious moment...a kingfisher, just sitting there.
Kingfisher river armleder

I was walking quietly along the shore, getting closer and closer....
The kingfisher bursting from its perch and a huge splash behind me made me jump about 3 feet out of my skin. Did Lorelei fall into the river?????

Nope. A big goofy yellow lab was in the water, fetching a ball.
yellow lab river armleder
CRAP. Does anyone read freakin' signs?????
I have had run-ins with lawless dog owners at Armleder before. And I don't just let it go.

I watched with my jaw dropped as this TWIT strolled along, letting her dog get closer and closer to a great blue heron upstream. Now, this great blue heron had watched Lorelei and me slide down the river bank and was not concerned with us.
walking toward the GBH

closer and closer
Ms. TWIT strolled closer and closer... Look at that body language. Unconcerned. She knew the heron was there. She knew her dog was off-leash. But she didn't care.

And when the heron couldn't handle it anymore:
GHB flies off
Off it went, with the dog on it's heels.

My hands clenched and I started muttering to myself (quietly, since Lorelei was there). And Lorelei was so precious...worried about the bird. (Mommy? That lady let her dog scare off the great blue heron!)

I saw the TWIT double back and I called to Lorelei to come on. We were going to meet up with this dum-dum on the trail.

As we topped the bank, we saw the dog, and as it saw us, started bounding toward us in that way that only Labs can. He was wet and muddy, and proceeded to jump all over me and smear said wetness and mud all over me. I pushed him off and blocked him from knocking Lorelei down.

The TWIT owner came along and I said in icy tones, "Do you know that you are supposed to have your dog leashed at all times in this park?"
She grimaced and said, "Oh! I am SO sorry! SO sorry!"
Continuing to push the messy dog away from Lorelei, I said, "You know, I don't care about a little mud. I do care that your dog spooked that heron."
And I let my hand fall to my camera and let the camera swing a bit.

(Unspoken in my head, "And I will humiliate you and your irresponsibility on my BLOG.")

The dog got tired of being pushed away and bounded off into the woods, to go jump on something that wouldn't put up as much of a fight.
I sighed, took Lorelei's hand and continued on. I could hear the woman yelling for her dog, and the dog giving that bark that they do when they aren't going to do anything you say.

A few minutes later, I saw the woman emerge from the woods, with her dog on a leash.
Finally on a leash

Now, if you maybe have known me for, well, any length of time, you are aware that I am a bit of a rule-breaker. But I would like to add that I have mellowed to the point that I don't have to break a rule just for the sake of hearing it snap anymore. And being a BONE-afied nature lover, I care a GREAT DEAL when rules pertain to nature and birds. So if you think I am being just a bit too mean, or a stickler, well tough. That's how I am.
Anyone think I was too in-your-face (yet another one of my charming traits)?


Dave said...

You were too nice! I want to make it law to were you can shoot these people without question. :)

Windyridge said...

Well yes only because you can't break rules yourself, especially if it's only to hear them snap, and then get upset when someone breaks one you don't approve of. Maybe she has seen you break a rule that makes her as mad as she made you. Or Maybe she was just too stupid to realize and was enjoying a stroll with her dog.

Susan Gets Native said...

I wish I had a Taser.

That's my point. Stupid people are the enemy. And I didn't know this woman. And I don't break rules where birds or people could get hurt. Did you read the post? What if that dog had hurt Lorelei?
Enjoying a stroll with your dog means also allowing everyone else the safety a leashed dog maintains.

LauraHinNJ said...

You a law-breaker?

(rolling on floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter)


Please, Susan. Some of us know better.

I'm something of a law-breaker myself with the dog... in parks that aren't busy or where I know I can keep him close enough to stay out of trouble. But, I will abide by the rules where I know birds are present or nesting - we only walk on bayside beaches, etc.

I think most people are really just oblivious, you know? They don't mean for their dog to harm or harass birds - they don't even notice the birds! Really.

I'm glad you said something. I've done the same and felt mean or bitchy for it. I think it's our duty though, those of us who know better and can see all those pretty birds that are right on front of us.

Kudos to you!

Wanderin' Weeta said...

If anything, you were too nice.

I've done the same. I've even barricaded an entrance to the no-dogs area with my body; "You can't come in here with that dog!"

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time with confrontation, and admire you for speaking to her in a constructive way. I didn't think it was too bitchy or out of line.

Dogs running free of leash can be a beautiful thing or a menace -- when dogs run free and don't respond to their owners, that's just many accidents waiting to happen. Glad you were able to body block the dog from jumping on Lorelei.

Wayne, PA

KatDoc said...

A point you didn't mention is that Armleder has a perfectly lovely DOG PARK where Ms. Twit could have let her Lab run free legally. Armleder is a park that tries to be all things to all people - playgrounds and soccer fields and walking trails and dog park and an area set aside (and clearly marked with signs) that is designated habitat for grassland birds.

I'm a Dog Mom, so I understand the temptation to let your dog run free. Off-lead dogs can be hazardous to wildlife, people, and even to other dogs. Being somewhat of a scoff-law myself, I have let my dog(s) off-lead from time to time (not at Armleder), but they are under voice control, and I immediately put them back on when there are people or animals. Holly will do such a tight off-lead heel that sometimes people can't tell she is off. And both of them freeze when Mommy is watching a bird. I would never let then spook a bird or jump on strangers.

I feel better now. You done good, Susan.


Cindie U. said...

I'm glad you had the guts to say something--I don't know whether I would have. She was probably more worried about your daughter than the heron, but maybe something sunk in to her pea brain.

Cindie U. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

Atta girl. I woulda been flipping right with ya, sister.

I don't like strangers' dogs off lead ANYWHERE.

Like Laura said, many people don't even notice birds or wildlife. Because they are TWITS.

Mary said...

Atta girl. I woulda been flipping right with ya, sister.

I don't like strangers' dogs off lead ANYWHERE.

Like Laura said, many people don't even notice birds or wildlife. Because they are TWITS.

Kyle said...

I'd say you were perfectly in line to correct her as you did, and that's coming from another non-confrontational type. And especially if the place already has an area set aside as a dog park -- that takes it beyond TWIT-dom and well into the range of "I'm a totally self-absorbed idiot that doesn't care about anyone or anything around me."

Just my opinion, of course...

Lynne said...

I have a dog that draws aggressive dogs like a magnet. I am seriously uncomfortable when I walk her when there are dogs off lead. If it was posted, then she should be told. Good job.

I would not have been so nice if someones big dog tried to jump on my kids.

nina said...

No, Susan you weren't "too mean."
The natural world only has the voice we give it. If she was thinking, "nobody cares about that big ol' bird," now she knows someone does.
It's a start.

And if you say you have THIS at your house, too, I'm going to expect to run into you out there! Or do parallel worlds not cross, either?

Kitt said...

You did the right thing.

I'm a dog owner and dog lover and I'm appalled by the number of dog owners out there who have no control over their animals and who don't care or don't see what damage they can do.

RuthieJ said...

Atta Girl Susan! I'm glad you were able to set her straight in a nice way.