Lately, going for a walk with the dogs has been problematic. Just a year or so ago, our afternoon walk involved a round trip of 5 to 6 neighborhood blocks. We enjoyed our 20-25 minute strolls about 6-ish.
Then a small pomeranian along the way slipped loose from his owner and attacked us as we passed. It was annoying (how do people stand those little yapping fluff balls?), but I was able to scoop up the kids and carry them away, while the pomeranian's owner ran his dog down and got it back under control.
We began to avoid that block.
Then we became aware that a big black Lab at the far end of our route was generally loose in his yard at the time we made our rounds. He was under very good voice command, but a time or two he almost reached us before his owner noticed and called him back. Mojo started to pull backwards when we would get within a house or two of the Lab's yard.
We began to avoid that block.
We modified our walk to go the length of our street and then turn left instead of right and wander down a seldom traveled dirt road where there are no houses. That worked for awhile and then the folks at the end of the street where we made our turn acquired two dogs who were allowed to run loose in the yard when their owners were outside. And they always seemed to be outside when it came time for our walk. Again, the dogs were under very good voice control, but it made my two very nervous to walk past.
We started turning a block earlier and following our old route, less the block where the Lab lived. We were now covering half the distance we originally traveled, but we were still getting in a decent afternoon walk.
Then came the afternoon we met the German Shepherd. He was visiting a home around the corner from us and had been turned loose in the yard. We didn't see him until after he saw us and he made a beeline for us. "He won't hurt you!" called his owner cheerfully, just before he grabbed Coco and pinned her down to the ground. She began screeching in terror and Mojo pulled out of his collar and ran for home. I was trying to call him back and wrestle Coco out of the jaws of the strange dog, all the while the owner was casually walking over and commenting, "he's never done that before..."
I managed not to choke the living daylights out of her, but only because I had finally lifted Coco out of the way and was racing after Mojo, praying he did not run out in front of a car before he got home.
It took awhile to get them to walk anywhere after that. From that point on, Mojo would begin to fret as soon as we walked out of sight of the house. He never wanted to find himself uncertain of which way lay safety. Our walks were now a fraction of the original length.
Our customary stroll takes us past a neighbor's yard two houses down where two large dogs are in residence. Bear always charges the fence when we pass, threatening to tear us limb from limb if we approach his yard, and Mojo has enjoyed fussing right back at him. Bear is really a sweetheart of a dog and so is his cohort Doobie. They sometimes escape from their yard and I've escorted them back, both of them ambling along at my side begging for head pats, so I have not been overly concerned about them. Bear has even burst through his gate when I was passing by with my dogs, but has always turned around and gone back in his yard without incident.
But, last Friday, the little yapper dog that is normally inside was out in the yard. Just as we passed on our return, the neighbors turned them out to run into the woods that border their property. Bear and Doobie would probably have ignored us, but little Yap Yap was looking for a rumble and ran straight for us. Coco began shrieking her head off, as she has done every time a strange dog approaches us after the German Shepherd encounter, and Mojo was dancing at the end of his leash, trying to pull free. Bear and Doobie, figuring Yap Yap knew something they didn't, joined in the frey. Thank heavens the neighbors were right there pulling them off, or we might have had big trouble. My dogs were shaken, but all right. I was the only one injured, through my own stupidity. In trying to get my dogs under control, I got tangled up in the retractable leashes and sliced my hands to ribbons. I've spent the last week with deep, painful cuts on several fingers, which are healing very, very slowly.
So, for the last week, Mojo and Coco are refusing to go any further than across the street and down to the end of our yard and back. They get their business done and they are ready to go home.
Needless to say, this all has not only wrecked havoc with my nerves, it has caused my stamina to deteriorate because I'm not getting in the good walks I used to enjoy. I don't like walking alone and the dogs don't like me leaving them behind. So, in desperation, I went to the pet store in the outlet mall last week and bought a pet stroller.
We tried it out on Saturday morning and the kids haven't quite decided whether they are happy about this new development. I take them for their very abbreviated leash walk and then pop them inside for a long ride on our original route. It is big enough for both of them to sit inside, and they are surrounded by mesh, so they can see ahead, to either side, and out the back to check on Mom. Mom has company and they aren't left behind.
I'm hopeful that when it gets a little cooler, this will allow me to get back into a regular routine of walking for exercise. It may also allow them to go along on short road trips. (I hear some of the malls are even allowing pet strollers inside, so long as the canopy is kept zipped closed.)
The cats are completely stumped. And the neighbors have not yet witnessed us enroute, so I may be in for some pointing and giggling. They all think I'm a little kooky anyway, so they may not even blink.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least I'll get my walk and the kids will get some fresh air.
And the neighbors will get some free entertainment.