I walk my Shiba Inu, Toshi, almost every day. Toshi loves people. He loves them so much that it takes forever to take our usual 1-mile walk because when someone looks at him, he immediately sits and smiles waiting to be pet. Sometimes he gets very excited when people talk (in cutesy voice) to him and he will jump on them a little. However, I pull him off, and I can do that because Toshi is on leash.
Toshi was professionally trained by one of the best trainers in the country — not county, country. He spent two months at Queen City K9 in Weddington, N.C., where guard dogs, police K9 and military dogs are bred and trained. He didn’t receive that kind of training; his was simply obedience training — a few simple commands that I still work on five years later. He is a good dog, he is a people dog.
About two years ago a friend, Amy, was out walking her little dog when she was attacked by two off-leash labradors. Now, most of us know labs as friendly, mellow dogs, but dogs are dogs. And something about Amy’s little dog upset these two labs and they went after it. Amy, trying to protect her dog, was attacked too, because when dogs are in frenzy mode, they are not looking to see who is who, they just bite.
There was a time when Toshi wore a shock collar because he would fight with my two older dogs. I hated zapping him, but not more than I hated having an out of control dog. So occasionally, I would take him up to open space and let him off leash. I knew if I had to, I could get him to stop any bad behavior or insure he returned to me if called with a simple zap.
When my other two dogs passed away, I took Toshi’s collar off and he has not been off leash since, unless it’s in his own backyard.
What Toshi doesn’t love — and I am right there with him — is off-leash dogs running up to him. One day we were rounding the corner on Center Road to Sam’s Place and I spotted a pitbull tied to a chair in front of China Express, I was going to make a wide circle but suddenly the pitbull saw Toshi and chair and all started coming after him.
I ducked behind a truck and was ready to toss Toshi in the bed of the truck (and me too if needed) but the dog ended up wrapping himself and his chair around a pole. For the first time in my life, I heard a dog cry out and didn’t care. Toshi was nervous on our walks for a month. So was I.
While it’s not every walk, at least two out of five walks we run into an unleashed dog who is not under (voice) control by its owner or whose owner is not present at all. They run up to Toshi and I shout out to their owners if they are present. Please leash your dog. (again) Please leash your dog. (Then finally) Leash your ________ dog. And they always say something like “My dog is friendly, or “Watch your language.” Depending on how far I got.
But MY dog is not friendly to charging dogs and I really don’t want my dog to hurt your dog or be traumatized himself. It’s nerve-wracking. It has made our walks the opposite of healthy. My blood pressure goes up and I come home with knots in my back. Some days I’m simply not up to the stress and play “hall ball” for 30 minutes instead.
I know I’m not the only person that has to deal with this. I hope everyone starts speaking up and maybe we can get the already on the books leash laws enforced in Novato and enjoy walking our pets again.
I don’t ever want to hear about another person attacked by dogs in Novato. Dogs are dogs, and they need to be controlled.