All Crazy Pet People Should Yank a Dog’s Leash

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Su_itby: Carol Bryant

"Yank his leash!"

The words jolted through me like, well, a bolt of lightning.

“Excuse me?” I quizzically looked at the man standing near the bins of dog treats.

“Your dog is trying to eat the treats out of that bin,” he chided.” Yank his leash and give his neck a good tug.”

Why do these situations seem to find me? I have no idea, but my path seems to cross that of dim-witted loud mouths now and again, and that’s putting it mildly. This incident happened about two weeks ago, but the aftermath of it stays with me. So I blog.

One of our family rituals involves perusing a local pet supply store on weekends: Our dog gets to interact with other dogs, people, and he has a good time with the sniffs. The treat bins are oh-so-strategically placed at dog level, thus inviting a good sniff and maybe for sneaking a treat or two. My dog, Dexter,  will wait 95 percent of the time for a treat, but on this particular day he helped himself to a small marrow bone biscuit. This is when said incident occurred…

“Sir, it is unhealthy to pull a dog’s neck or give him a yank,” I replied. “You can do a lot of damage to their trachea. I would never do that to my dog.”

“You crazy dog people,” is all that he muttered to me as he scurried away.

The guy wasn’t that old, so it wasn’t a generational thing. He was uniformed. I really wanted to give him some more info on why pulling a dog’s neck is unhealthy, but he left the scene.

This got me to thinking: Where can I go where I am more amongst “my kind”—you know, those people who don’t raise an eyebrow because I let my dog kiss my face; folks who totally understand that a pet is a member of the family and I don’t feel like an alien in a cornfield of non-pet people.

Traveling in Maine with my dog

I’ve always just wanted to fit in with others who share my passion for pets, and it has not been until these past five years or so that I really feel that society has begun to embrace me.

I am a dog mom. I love it when folks call me a dog mom; I never grimace, furrow a brow, or correct them. In fact, a sense of pride swells in me.  Some prefer pet owner, pet parent, cat mama, ferret dad, or some variety in between. Whatever the case, pets are part of the family and if you reading this post, I’m probably preaching to the choir.

In moments like the above, I still now and then feel isolated and wonder when society gave itself a free license to say whatever comes to mind. Honk a horn, make a rude gesture, tell me to yank my dog’s collar, don’t hold the door open for me, rush to get that parking spot. Our pets do none of these things. That makes our pets even better than humans then, yes?

I embrace that I do things with my dog in 2013 that perhaps others who went before me did not (or could not) do with their pooches. I look back on my childhood and cringe: The “family dog” wasn’t allowed in the living room, and I still wonder whether she ever even saw anything above the basement, where she was “allowed” to sleep on colder nights.

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I live a bit more vicariously and in the moment since becoming a dog mom: And after all, aren’t dogs always living in the moment? They’ve taught me well, these creatures kids called dogs. I’ve yet to see my dog worry about what just happened, or panic at something that’s going down tomorrow. Dogs have taught me to live life to its fullest because at any time, it can end.

For those of us who have earned the love of a pet at any stage of our lives, you get it: We are special people. Our pets tell us so in their own unique way.

The “industry” knows this, and our pets are the targets of smart marketing. Of course treat bins will be at dog level: If my dog sniffs a bin, it means he or she wants some. “Hey ma, can I have some candy?” The thing is: My dog doesn’t throw a fit if we leave the store without something. (rare that we leave empty handed, but it happens).

Dogs live short lives; we know this when we accept the responsibility of dog parenting. I shop in the same stores as moms with human children, yet there is a stigma that in some way it might be odd to consider me a mom. My credit cards are accepted, my legal tender works the same way, I shop and bargain hunt in a similar capacity, and oh: I tell my friends and followers, who, in turn, listen to me and my sagely advice. Then they go to the stores or visit a website and do the same things, as dog moms and dog dads. And I know I am not alone. 

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Pet bloggers are a force with which to be reckoned. When I am ready to do some shopping, 9 out of 10 times I look to reviews from pet bloggers to see what they’ve said, how things work, and if they give the product their stamp of approval.

And I know I am not alone.

Dog moms and dads come to the yearly BlogPaws Conferences.  I decided to jump feet first  and see if there were other people like me back in 2009. I walked through the BlogPaws Conference doors in Ohio,  held my head high, felt a twinge of nervousness, but wanted to see “what this pet blogging talk” was all about. I left a changed woman. Oh, and the entire event of more than 400 people, dozens of brands, and a weekend of seminars and knowledge-based sessions was pet-friendly. I sat with my dog near my feet as my life changed. Talk about a full-circle moment. Brands wanted to know what was important to me as a pet parent. Some of the brands even called me a pet parent! Imagine that!

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I recall asking Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws co-founder, about pet blogging and if this was a fad or here to stay.

“Our community is on the pulse of all things pet: from dogs to cats, rabbits to ferrets, and everything in between,” she told me in 2009. Here we are in 2013, nearing the end of a year and the power of the pet blogger is only getting stronger.

So I might be a crazy dog person to some, but I get the warm fuzzies when I hear that. Yanking my dog’s leash to prevent him frommy sniffing or snacking a treat: Now that thought sends chills up my spine.

What would you have done in this situation and do you feel a sense of camaraderie in the BlogPaws Community/at the BlogPaws yearly Conferences?  

  • http://www.mydivasdish.com Robbi

    I’m a crazy pet person as well. The family sometimes thinks Henrietta needs a “bark collar” yep, like I am going to shock my dog when she barks because she’s happy to see me when I get home? Not likely!

  • http://www.somethingwagging.com Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes

    Really interesting post, Carol. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.
    I do appreciate the other animal lovers I’ve met blogging.
    But I’ve also found something else. I assume most people have a training philosophy that agrees with mine (or yours) and they just don’t. But that doesn’t mean they love their dogs any less.
    Pet blogging has led me to look past the “code words” we use when we talk about how to treat our animals (although giving a yank isn’t a code word; that’s just cruel) to see how people actually treat their dogs.
    I hope that someday everyone sees relationship-based training as the norm. But we’re a far way from that.
    In the meantime, if someone refuses to let their dog on the bed because they’re afraid of being dominated, I’ll disagree. But I’ll be happy to see that even if they have misguided ideas about training, they might still be giving an excellent and loving home to their animals.

  • http://roxythetravelingdog.com Mary Hone

    It’s interesting that guy was in a pet related store, makes you wonder. I too bristle when people are uninformed and try to tell me what to do with my fur babies. Crazy dog mom or not, I love these guys and try to stay informed on whats best for them.

  • Linda Lowry

    Hi Carol. Years ago, my spouse’s uncle was in our house. It was a goodbye party to my father-in-law who was relocating to Arizona.
    My dog Shannon came out of the bedroom to greet the guests and barked.
    The uncle told me to get a switch! I said NO!
    That was the last time he was welcomed in my home and the last time I ever spoke with him.
    What seems normal to a lot of people is NOT with me. I will not yank on a leash. I will not hit my dogs. They are my family and I love and respect them for who they are. They are a joy in my life and I know they won’t be around forever, so I value every single second I’m with them.
    Thanks for your story.

  • http://furrydancecats.blogspot.com Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz

    Great post, very personal and in depth with regards to your feelings and what kind of petmom you are. I, too, cringe at some of the things I see catmoms do, even in a veterinary setting… I am not sure why people think cats in carriers in a vet hospital setting would even want to sniff the clinic cat face which is looming in front of them. I just gently tell them that ‘Meet and Greets’ are not a cat’s idea of a good time and their kitty is already nervous enough..sigh.

  • http://www.donnasword.com Donna Sword

    Some folk, like this guy you encountered, have a one-way education system. They’re so very glad to tell you why their way is the Best & Only, and when countered feel the need to insult. Bullies, really.
    I’ve never been a fan of unsolicited advice, but as I get older (mature? get less young?) I’ve picked up some coping skills. Stuff like your fella said, well, used to raise my hackles. Now though, I might say, Really? Huh, I’ll take that into consideration.
    Just kidding. It’s more like I give a sidelong stink-eye glance and move on.
    I may never grow up right.

  • NBG

    Very interesting Carol. It is not surprising that someone who would say such thing to a dog mama was not interested in receiving education about what he just said. To me, just the fact that he thought that it was ok to tell you such thing tells me that he has some kind of sense of entitlement. I didn’t appreciate the “you people” comment either. What’s so bad about being part of a group of people who truly cares about the well-being of animals? Most people who are judgemental are not interested in educating themselves on any issues at hand. They prefer just walking around as ignorant and judging others instead. Makes life a lot easier this way. I’m proud to be a dog mama and I am proud that I care about animals and help them the best I can every day.
    This guy sure missed the opportunity to speak to a lovely person who is highly educated and knowledgeable on the topic but instead he prefered to remain judgemental and ignorant. His loss!

  • http://americandogblog.wordpress.com Dawn

    I would have said something similar. If someone makes a rude reply like “crazy dog person”, though, I would not pursue it. When people make mean replies like that, they are not in a frame of mind to listen. Going off on them will not make me feel better and will not make them change their mind. In fact, they’d probably be more stubborn about their ideas. So, just walk away.
    Yes, I feel a very strong sense of camaraderie in the dog blog community. No one here cares if I like the smell of my dog’s feet or that I am so protective of them that I buckle them up in the car. I like it here. 🙂

  • http://www.ohmyshihtzu.com Christine and Riley

    OMG!! I would have done the same thing… but then I probably would add in, “if you do that to your dog, than what do you do to your children” … hence the reason I don’t like public areas!! lol

  • http://www.roccoshouse.com/ Andrea

    If you are ever in the Washington area, you should come to Woofers Grooming & Goodies and check out the “World’s Longest Biscuit Buffet”. The whole point is that its on dog level so the dog can pick the treats him/herself. A reasonable amount of sampling is allowed. 🙂
    As far as that man, it seems a little cheeky to be correcting you over treats. If your dog was spooled all the way out on the end of a retractable leash getting a treat, I can understand saying something. If it was your dogs nose rammed up his dogs behind, and you didn’t ask permission for a meet-and-greet, I can understand. (There’s nothing I hate more than people who let their dog “say hello” to mine without permission.) But over a stolen treat? Not that big of a deal.

  • http://www.smartdoguniversity.com Laurie Luck

    I think parents of dogs — and of kids — get so much unsolicited advice! I’ve seen poor pregnant women trapped in the grocery store line hearing uninvited child rearing advice from the shopper behind them. I can’t imagine!
    As someone who makes her living teaching dogs, I’ve found it’s usually easier, faster, and — in the long run — more harmonious if I simply nod and smile and keep right on doing what I’m doing. I teach dogs using positive reinforcement and eschew punishment or corrections.
    I raise and train service dogs and am in public with a dog a lot. We’re in restaurants, movie theaters, doctor offices, etc. The looks, advice, comments, and “help” I get when I’m with a dog is astounding. While the majority of folks are genuinely curious as to why I have a dog in the grocery store, others are, well, to put it nicely — combative. 😉
    Great article, I’m glad I’ve found your blog!