Dear Labby: call the puppy police?

Dear Labby,

We recently went to the park with some family friends. Officially, all dogs are supposed to be on leash, but that’s hardly ever the case. It’s not usually a problem, as most of the dogs are well behaved and the dog parents are very courteous. My friend, however, was bitten as a child by a supposedly friendly dog. As a result, he becomes very nervous when dog parents pull up, open the back of their cars, and their dogs come flying out while his kids are playing in the park.

Hes always courteous and asks them politely to put their dog on a leash. In this particular case, though, the overly excited dog was just too rough and too close to my friend’s kids, and the owner refused to leash his dog. My friend was reduced to saying, “Do it or Ill call the police.” Of course he wanted to use my phone and I just felt embarrassed.

Isnt there some unwritten code of conduct?


Rex Unleashed Lessens Ease of Somewhat Nervous Adult, Needs Canines Yoked

Dear Rex Unleashed Lessens Ease of Somewhat Nervous Adult, Needs Canines Yoked:

Indeed. The unwritten code goes a little something like this: Thou shalt not allow your dog to play too roughly with strange children at the park, lest the wrath of an anxious parent becomes unfurled, you’re slapped with a nasty lawsuit, and your dog winds up in quarantine.

In this case, however, it sounds like the code is not only written, but explicit: “Officially, all dogs are supposed to be on a leash.” Your friend was perfectly justified, R.U.L.E.S.N.A.N.C.Y., in requesting that the park-goer leash his dog.

As irritating as that might have been to the owner–his jolly little Peekapoo wouldn’t harm a flea–he should have complied. Or at least lured his dog to another part of the park, leaving your friend’s kids free to eat sand and fall off the swings in peace.

But while your buddy was in the right, a softer approach might’ve yielded less contentious results: “I know this must sound crazy, but I had a really scary experience with a dog and I’d just be so much more comfortable if your pup was on leash when he’s around these kids.” It may not have worked, but at least it would have bought you some time to pretend to lose your cell phone.