Friday, October 17, 2014

Insult to injury: A chance for recreational outrage

As we all know, sidewalk parking is my personal hill to die on. People in my city regularly park on the sidewalk. Sometimes they leave room for a single-width stroller, sometimes not even that. I started a one-woman crusade last year and ended up getting the police to start issuing tickets, so the problem has been greatly reduced. But I still have to call the cops sometimes. 

But there is this one house on my route to and from school. It's a multi-family, and one of the families has an absolutely terrifying dog. It's pitbull-esque, and it does not care for strangers walking on the sidewalk in front of its house. The yard is fenced in, but it's a chain-link fence that is right up against the sidewalk. When the dog is outside, it is never tied up and if it sees you walking by the house it runs up to the fence and stands on its hind legs - which brings its head higher than the fence, mind you - and tries to chew your face off. Or at least it SEEMS like it's trying to chew your face off. It appears that it wants nothing more than to chew your face off. It snarls, barks, growls, and scrabbles at the fence, trying to get out. 

I have a fear of dogs anyway, so I am unable to walk by this dog when it's clambering up the fence like that. I just cannot do it. At a minimum, I have to walk into the street so I can put some distance between me and the slavering jaws. When I'm with the kids, I usually cross the street - which means walking in front of the weirdo house with huge bushes that block the entire house from view and protrude into the sidewalk forcing me to duck as I walk by! Just as bad as sidewalk parking! -  but I hate that I am forced to do that. And I hate that stupid dog. I HATE that dog. 

Lest you get the wrong impression, I have not called the cops on these people. The dog is always contained in the yard. I understand rationally that the dog cannot get out, and that these people are not breaking any laws by having a mean dog. But the thing about an irrational fear is that it is irrational, so I can't just explain to myself that it's perfectly safe to walk by a a dog whose bared fangs are inches from my head. 

But I think these dog owners are terrible people. I think that if you are going to have a dog and not train that dog to allow people to pass by your property using the public sidewalk, then you should have the common courtesy to make sure the fence is at least set back from the sidewalk! Am I alone in this? Are there dog lovers or owners out there who have an opinion on this?

Also, one time I was walking the kids home from school and the dog surprised us as we got to the fence. I startled and ran with the stroller, but Nora startled and ran INTO THE STREET and FELL DOWN and the owner was outside and my, how he chuckled. Yes, all very hilarious. Especially when I tried to go get Nora, but we were on a hill, so the stroller started to roll and I had to leave Nora screaming in the street in order to stop Ann Marie from rolling away. 

So no, these people are not my favorites. 

But! Sidewalk parking! This is how they park:

There is room to get a single stroller through there, but the cars on the sidewalk force us right up against the fence where the dog leaps up and tries to kill us. 

I actually came across the dog owner outside with no dog on Wednesday took the opportunity to ask him if he could stop parking like that because his dog is terrifying and my children and I don't like having to walk right next to it. Unfortunately, that was not his car; it belongs to the guy who lives downstairs. He said he'd talk to him. It obviously went very well. 

So who wants to leave me a comment about how these people are terrible and their dog is terrible?


Wendy said...

These people are awful and I would do the same. I am afraid of dogs and would totally (resentfully) cross on the other side of the street to avoid being lunged/barked at even with a fence between us.

A. said...

They are TERRIBLE. Terrible. I would be anxious and fuming each and every time I passed that house.

And the sidewalk parking? I have NEVER seen such a thing. Terrible!

(BTW, I kind of think lots of people are terrible, so...)

Swistle said...

I am on the verge of actual tears of frustration over it. I feel them welling up, and my throat is getting tight. I am completely on your side.

Lauren said...

Well, I am a dog owner but I have VERY LITTLE PATIENCE for a whole host of other dog owners, including these people. I know it's private property and all, but it just doesn't seem right to me what a big, scary dog should be out in the front yard where people have to walk right against the fence.

oanababy said...

That's outrageous!!
Re. the people with the bushes across the street: does your city not have a clear sidewalk bylaw? Here, if you complain, the city will give the owner one month to trim their bushes back to the property line, or else the city does it and sends them an invoice.

Tracy said...

Chuckling at a little girl falling down? The rest was bad enough but that is beyond terrible.

So yes, I agree, they are terrible, their dog is terrible, and the bushes across the street should be clipped.

Anonymous said...

That's AWFUL. I'd probably cross the street to avoid the dog, and I'm a dog person. My uncle's German shepherd could easily leap over a chain link fence when he felt like it (usually to chase a squirrel or rabbit), so I'm a little paranoid about aggressive dogs and short fences. Sorry you have to deal with that.

Krizzzz again said...

I remember having to walk past a rather territorial dog when I was growing up, and as I got older, it used to really irritate me: "Look, dog, I *LIVE* here."

It bugs me when owners don't make a little more effort to teach a dog Friend from Foe -- and that just being on the sidewalk doesn't make you Foe.

There was a big German Shepherd around the block from us for years, and the owners would let that dog bark and bark and bark at people walking in the street. Across the street. Now, I love a good German Shepherd. I think they're a fabulous specimen of dog, and I've met some amazing specimens of the specimen.

But this day, I was out running, and I came past his house on my cool-down walk, and he was one the lawn, barking at me. On the lawn, OK. Most days, he stayed there.

This day, he walked off the lawn away from the house into the street, and challenged me. Seriously? I'm IN THE STREET. I'm nowhere near your house. And even if I were, hello? People come to houses sometimes. Is this how the dog behaves when the paperboy comes? Or the neighbor kid?

I actually had to turn around and go home a different way, because this dog wouldn't budge.

So, yep. Color me outraged with you. And after he chuckled at a stumbling child? Oh no he didn't.

Joanne said...

It seems like it should be illegal! I mean, an assault is just telling someone what you are going to do to them, so why is it okay for a dog to heavily insinuate what is going to happen to you? I'm so sorry, ugh.

Susie said...

Ooooh this sounds TERRIBLE. I am scared of dogs, especially in that situation where it FEELS like I'm about to get eaten, but am telling myself that really not, I need to calm down, be rational, it's fine. Because DON'T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN IT WANTS TO EAT ME.

Re: sidewalk parking, the only place I have really encountered this egregious behavior in our new locale is at Mass. MY ENTIRE PARISH PARKS ON THE SIDEWALK. I am trying to see this as God making a funny joke so that I can think of you every Sunday, but I would also like to buy an ad in the bulletin about proper sidewalk use.

Dr. Maureen said...


Anonymous said...

Please print ALL of this out and bring it to the police dept. I am in tears. I need to go back and look at that scarecrow again to find something to smile about.
Love from your Anonymous Mom

april said...

Every time I have to walk around a car parked on the sidewalk, I think of you. I think you need to come down here to petition the HOA to do something about it (I'm actually not part of the HOA so I wouldn't know how to go about that)