Meet me at the beach

Fido… Come… Sit
By Yvonne Passmore

With fall officially upon us, Mother Nature had decided to grant us with some wonderful summer like days. With vacation season over and the kids back to school, it was a perfect time for us to take advantage of the now quiet beaches. My dogs love the beach. They can run and play fetch endlessly because the water helps keep them cool to continue playing.
There are a few dog beaches in the area and this is where we go when time and weather allow. There are some other like-minded people that also bring their dogs to the beach and I certainly don’t have any issue with that.
I guess my issues come with what I assume.
When we see that we are approaching other dogs, for the peace of mind of myself and others, we leash our dogs to pass by when there isn’t much room. It’s at this point when the other loose dogs will approach my dogs and come to say hello. Again I have no problem with this as long as we all say a quick hello and go back to minding our own business. For the stranger dog, I assume that he will go back to his owner to continue what they were doing. Failing that, I assume that the owner will come and take him back to continue doing whatever they were doing. At the very least I assume the owner will come to be with his dog while he’s interacting with my dogs. I assume when I see dogs off leash anywhere, that those dogs are well trained and controlled by their owners. I’m sure you all know the saying about ‘assuming’?
My two retrievers will ignore other dogs that approach them while they are playing. They are only interested in fetching their balls and returning for another throw. They’ve experienced other dogs that come to steal their balls, physically try to push them around, jump on them, chase them, or spoil their little game while the owners of those dogs sit on the beach and watch. While walking we’ve had unleashed dogs come barreling up to my dogs acting aggressively. The only thing that probably prevented those instances from turning into fights was having my dogs remain focused on me to avoid eye contact with those types of dogs.
I have no problem with off-leash dogs, or with dog friendly beaches and parks. These places make my time with my dogs more enjoyable. I’ll still be enough of a sucker to be optimistic enough about humans to make the assumption that they have enough control over their dogs to give them off-leash privileges. At the very least I’ll still assume those dogs are amenable enough to both dogs and people that any contact will remain calm.
If your dog isn’t one of those, I’ll assume you will take the fall and winter to work on your dog being a good off-leash citizen. I will also assume I’ll see you at the beach next year where we can let our dogs enjoy the fruits of good training.

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