7:30 AM. I am about to finish my fourth and last loop around our apartment community. It’s a beautiful morning, with a lovely cool breeze and bright warm sunshine. Add to it our community’s green lawns, twittering birds and gorgeous terrace gardens in every other apartment and I’m in seventh heaven. I feel fresh and chirpy, ready to take on the world. Except the canine variety, as I am about to find out.
Despite my cheery state of mind, I’ve been walking for a half hour now, at a fairly brisk pace I must add, and am somewhat tired and distracted as a result. So I fail to spot the friendly neighborhood puppy, unleashed as usual, still at a safe distance from me. And I walk on, without a care in the world, entering the puppy’s ‘territory’ with my next few steps I suppose.
Said puppy bounds over playfully to greet me. She’s a friendly sort I’m sure, her little yelps and barks meaning ‘Good morning! What a pleasant day!’ in doggie-speak no doubt. Unfortunately for me, I don’t understand doggie-speak. So I stop dead in my tracks. And look around helplessly for the puppy’s owner. Said owner, flirting with the next-door neighbor, takes her own sweet time to amble over. Still, she’s nice enough to throw a lazy ‘She doesn’t bite!’ my way, halfway through her stroll.
Notice how every dog-owner earnestly believes this about their dog? ‘Maybe not, but I don’t want to be the first to find out you’re wrong!’, I want to yell back. A thousand different retorts rush through my mind. One of which goes – ‘Isn’t it a community rule to have your dog on leash at all times? I stay here too. Can’t I take my morning walk in peace?’ Now don’t get me wrong. I love doggies! I’ll even take your word for it if you insist they are adorable creatures. All I ask for is they stay outside a 10 foot radius around me. Is that too much to wish for, tell me?
But the best time to argue with a dog-owner is not when their dog is itching to throw herself on you and is being held back only by the owner’s smartly barked commands, I ruefully realize. And go home to lick my wounds. There are better ways to practice my assertiveness skills, I tell myself. I can always call up the community manager to make an anonymous complaint in the evening. From the safety of my home preferably.