Friday, July 05, 2013

Walking softly...

So there was one other purchase on the sealift that I didn't mention in the last post. Mainly because I'm a little uncomfortable with the reasons for buying it, but I figure I ought to explain why I did just in case in ends up being a thing at some point in the future.

When Cathy and I were shopping around in Ottawa we went into a favourite store called Apple Saddlery. It's a store that sells a lot of horse related supplies, which ordinarily we wouldn't go anywhere near, what with us not riding horses. But we popped in there one day and it's kind of a cool store. They have lots and lots of Birkenstocks on sale, which makes Cathy happy as she has a fondness (some would say obsession, but let us be kind) with those shoes. I like the various Guinness stuff they have on sale and I bought my first pair of Blundstone boots there, which are seriously awesome. It's a nice store to kill 45 minutes or so if you have the time.

So while I'm bumbling around I come across some seriously nice walking sticks. Now, I have a weakness for walking sticks. I have no idea why...probably some outdated and deluded sense that I look cool with one. And it predates House being on the air. Probably goes back to when I thought I looked awesome wearing a trenchcoat when I was in my early 20s. These days, much like the trenchcoat, there's a ritual involved. I show it to Cathy, she rolls her eyes and tells me there's no need for me to own that, but go ahead if I want to (translated: you're an idiot if you go ahead). Then I sigh wistfully, remember my age, and put it back.

This is a nice walking stick. Handcarved, nice solid brass handle on it. It feels comfortable in my hands. So I'm getting ready to go and complete our usual ritual when I stop and suddenly realize that I actually have a very good reason for buying this walking stick. I show the stick to Cathy, who is about to go into the routine when I give her my reason. She looks a little sad and nods her head. So we buy the stick and it's on its way up on the sealift.

So why buy it? Because Iqaluit has a dog problem.

I think most cities have dog problems of some sort, but it feels like Iqaluit's is starting to get out of hand a bit. There have been a few too many dog attacks in the last year or so. Pit bulls are getting to be a popular breed up here, which is worrying some people. I have a friend, Tara, who loves the breed and loathes the ban in Ontario. But I think we're about one more attack away from something similar happening here. I agree it's not the dog's fault, but we unfortunately have some serious assholes in town who think having these dogs make them badass. I'm also concerned about what happens if/when they start breeding with sled dogs. That's a particularly agressive mix that's not going to do anyone any favours.

We've already had a couple of dog attack instances of our own in the last six months or so; one with us and one with a friend of ours. The friend was out walking her dog, on his leash, when a loose dog came out of nowhere and clamped his jaws on her dog's neck and started to shake him. She freaked out and kicked the attacking dog as hard as she could, which sent him scurrying away. Her dog is fine, but she was pretty shaken up by the incident.

Ours happened over Christmas when Boo was attacked. We were actually back in Newfoundland and had a family house-sitting for us. We didn't know how serious the attack had been (they said he had got a cut on his neck from "somewhere") until a couple of days after we got back and after we cut back some of his matted fur and noticed about a half dozen cuts and and several still open wounds. I'm still pretty pissed off about that, but anyway....

Basically, they let Boo out the side door so he could do his business. No problem, we told them they could do that. When it's cold, he only ever stays out a couple of minutes and never wanders anyway. But we always keep an eye on him; they didn't. That's when two strays chased him up on the deck and started going at him. Fortunately, a neighbour saw the attack happen, raced across the street with his shovel and beat the dogs off. Boo is fine, but if that neighbour hadn't been out, we might not have the little guy with us. He's a 12 pound fluff ball. Fending off two huskies isn't in the cards.

There's been other things as well. I've been taking Boo on longer walks as the weather has gotten better and we've come across some dogs there have been a little more agressive than I would like. And if some of the ones on chains that are freaking out ever got loose, well, there would be a problem.

So why do I need a walking stick? Because I have the depressing certainty that at some point I'm going to have to whack an agressive stray dog in the side of the head because he's trying to attack Boo. I'm going to feel awful about that. Other than rapping a dog on the nose if he's misbehaving, I've never hit a dog hard in my life. However, I'm going to feel a lot worse if one of them grabs Boo and runs off with him and kills him. Or decides to have a go at me when I try to kick him.

I wish things were different. There have been questions in town about the effectiveness of bylaw in maintaining the dog population. I think there needs to be a cultural shift in town on how people view, treat and are responsible for their dogs. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen overnight.

So until it does, I'll be walking Boo, on his leash, and carrying a big stick.

Last Five
1. Soldier's grin - Wolf Parade
2. Mahogany - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies*
3. Clark Gable - The Postal Service
4. Transformation - David Gray
5. Nobody - Tom Waits

1 comment:

Way Way Up said...

It's so frustrating there are idiots out there that can't or won't control their dogs. I've had a couple dogs nip at me over the years and it was only the calm counsel of a good friend that prevented me from grabbing a golf club and teeing off one one such nuisance dog.