I feel the same way about dogs as I do Stephen King novels*: I like them, but they scare me. My dog phobia probably stems from the time I was about four or five** and I was petting my great uncle's dog, Lucky. Lucky was one of those curly haired dogs with a mustache that I currently like (from a distance). Everyone talked about what a good dog Lucky was, and that was true until he jumped up and ripped open my face in the space between my lip and nose. There was some speculation that Lucky was not meaning to bite me, but that in his eagerness to lick my face off, his tooth snagged my skin. Regardless of the reason (and Lucky did not fill us in), I was rushed to the emergency room, and Lucky was ushered into a corner, yelled at, and I think hit repeatedly with a newspaper. Fortunately for both of us, there was no permanent damage except psychological scarring that makes me like dogs from a distance.
Anyway, I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of the number of douche bag humans who let their dogs run free in Central Park. Two Saturdays ago, I watched a look of complete terror overtake a jogger's face as an off-leash large dog charged her and the dog's owner giggled. About 40 minutes later, another leashless, medium-size dog darted right in front of me then stopped suddenly as I was running. I almost slammed into the animal and flipped over. At least the owner sheepishly apologized. This was the third time in two weeks that I almost fell over an out-of-control dog. I'll also never forget the fuckface who was playing catch with her golden retriever during the New York City Half Marathon: of course the ball got into a crowd, and there was a small amount of mayhem.
The other runner and I were lucky. A few months ago, a woman riding her bike flipped over a dog as it darted in front of her while chasing a squirrel. In the ensuing news article, several dog owners justified letting their animals run wild because their dogs never get out of hand, except, as one owner said, when her "dog sees a squirrel." As we all know, Central Park has no squirrels except for the hundreds of squirrels. (Or other dogs that might excite them.) Just ask the biker, who sustained a brain injury.
Gah! I hate people. Please, if you have a dog, and you love your dog, respect the fact that no matter how "good" the beast usually is, at the end of the day, it is still a dog. It has animal instincts and no intrinsic sense of morality. To keep everyone (including the dog) safe, leashes truly are a man's best friend.
*from the 1970s and 1980s. **I'm sure my mom will clarify the age in the comments - thanks Mom! (seriously)