A couple of months ago I was walking my dog, Asher. He's a 7-year-old black lab. He grew up down in Cape Girardeau where I rented a house next door to a huge fenced in chunk of land owned by my fraternity. He was raised without a leash around a lot of people. His best friend growing up was a goat named Duke (a goat I ultimately got stuck taking care of). He's completely socialized and has never so much as growled at anybody or anything. The rabbits that hang out in our South City yard rarely even flinch when he comes lumbering out the back door. I know everyone says this type of shit about their dog, but ask anyone who's ever met Asher, the most violent thing he's ever done is accidentally knock over a beer with his whip-like tail.
KBO and I like to take him on walks without his leash. He never goes more than ten feet ahead of us and doesn't chase after animals or people when he sees them. It's pretty safe. Anyway, Asher and I were minding our own business listening to some Ryan Adams (Jacksonville City Nights...one of the best albums of the decade and closest I've ever gone to embracing country music), when some dude pokes his head of his house. The yard was littered with pink bikes and large plastic things of varying degrees of obnoxiousness.
"Hey! Hey you!"
Asher stopped and turned around, so I took off my headphones.
"Excuse me!" The voice behind me was definitely hostile. I hate assholes.
"You know there are leash laws!"
"Don't worry, he's harmless. I've had him for seven years and he's never bit anyone or anything."
My words echoed deep within the corridors of this dude's icy stare.
I called Asher, he came running and sat down next to me, I put his leash on, and we walked quickly away. Looking back on it now, I wish I had something more clever to cut this guy off his "I have four kids so I'm better than you" pedestal. But I didn't.
On the way back we walked up the ally. It runs right aside old Leash-Law's fenced in back-yard. His dogs freak the fuck out. He has three of them and they bark like they want to rip your throat out when you walk past. There's a gap in the fence where these caged Cujo psycho-beasts broke through in a desperate lung for the blood of some poor innocent leash-less dog-walker. Fuckers.
I remembered this sequence of events when I walked past the yard today, Asher fully leashed, and tried to discard some poo in the ally dumpster. As I stared into the eyes of the crazed creatures, I began to feel sorry for them. And all of the other dogs in South St. Louis that are permanently imprisoned in their back yards. Leash-Law never walks his dogs. He lives twenty feet from my house and I've never seen his dogs outside of his yard. I mean, the dude has four kids at the perfect age to walk their three dogs. Why don't you walk your dog Leash-dude?
South city folks love dogs. Not just one dog, but three or four. Between the house next door and the one right across the alley, there are a combined SEVEN dogs. All of them bark with passionate intensity at any movement. I'll be working in my backyard for hours and they will bark and bark until the neighbor sprays them with a hose. These dogs are never walked either.
I know we have more important matters to attend to with Israel on a genocidal rampage in Gaza, and the economy recovering from eight years of irresponsible conservatism, but this is something I really need to get off my chest. Dogs need to be walked. They need to be socialized. They should be taken to the park. They should be allowed to run around. Anyone who buys a dog just to imprison in a small backyard or chain to a tire should be sent to asshole rehab. Fucking oppressors.
So, the next time you cringe at the site of a leash-less dog, Dude-on-the-Corner, you better recognize. Not all dogs have been caged to the point of insanity. Chill the fuck out.