5. The Father And The Son

Labrador retriever dog outdoors in the nature on grass meadow on a summer day.

Labrador retriever dog outdoors in the nature on grass meadow on a summer day.

Over the last days we have been searching for a few different walks to which Oliver can get used to. So today we decided to go through the park. The park is an area open for humans and unleashed dogs. For Oliver a nice area to walk and at the same time an exciting area where unleashed dogs approach him while he is on a leash. Sir Oliver is sociable and loves other dogs as long as they know there place and not get overexcited or bossy.

I had no idea how crowded the park would be and after going there a few times we found out that our walking times were perfect for an almost empty park. Especially in the morning at 8:15AM it is a silent and calm place to be.

One morning a lady asked me why my dog was on a leash in an area where dogs are allowed to walk free. I explained to her that we just adopted Oliver and due to him being a beagle and a laboratory beagle it would not be wise to let him walk free and follow the trails that he finds. The lady understood and at the same time I could see that the concept of lab dogs is something we simply do not think about, let alone how these dogs are doing when they get out of the lab. I was at that same place before my daughter adopted sir Oliver. I felt horribly guilty for not being aware that dogs are used for medical experiments. In the old days the cigarette industry used beagles as well putting caps with tubes on their nose and mouth, smoking away all day. God, I felt sick to my stomach when I let those pictures in of what was done to these animals. Did I do anyone a favor with this stance? No, absolutely not. Looking forward and walking the consequences of animal testing is what is right in front of me. Therefore that will be my main focus for now and love sir Oliver to the moon and back.

So today we decided to try out the park during our afternoon walk. Empty again, until we saw in the distance two running labradors. I became a bit nervous, since the two men that were with them were not watching the dogs. So these big labradors came running towards Oliver, they were absolutely excited and started sniffing sir Oliver’s face, his butt, all normal dog behavior. And at the same time quite intimidating for sir Oliver. The man came closer and I asked the oldest man, the father, if he could call his dogs. “Why “, said the guy. Because our dog is scared and intimidated by your dogs and I am not in a position to direct your dogs behavior. The father ensured us that his dogs were the sweetest dogs ever and everything was fine. At that point sir Oliver’s tail was between his legs and although we had protected him with our bodies from these dogs, it was too much for him. So my daughter decided to lift sir Oliver up and keep him in her arms till the dogs would no longer be interested. I explained to the father and his son that our dog is a laboratory dog and needs to get used to new things in a slow pace. “So this is actually could for him interacting with other dogs”, the man said. Well obviously now it was not, since a dog with his tail between his legs is not a happy animal. “Well then you should not come here, because it is always crowded with dogs in this park”, the man said. I told him that my experience was different and saw myself going into a discussion I didn’t want to get into. So my daughter and I decided to move on and free sir Oliver and ourselves from this interaction. It was clear the men were not going to take responsibility for their dogs, from a point of empathy with another living being.

When moving away from the father and the son I saw myself continuing the discussion in my mind with them. Where I said all the right things and in a way getting back at them. I stopped for a moment. I’m not going through with this mind discussion I said to myself, I know this habit of mine, this pattern of feeling powerless within the real situation and then playing it out with me as the hero within my mind. The outcome in reality didn’t change through my mind discussion other than me despising them even more when I would continue.

I could see as well that I felt mad and disappointed and  I could see that I had believed that all pet owners were loving and empathic people. Reality is another story. How many people I already have seen shouting at their dogs or being convinced that their dog is doing something to irritate them, is devastated. It’s obvious that having a pet is not necessarily saying anything about the owner being a responsible and loving person, I need to get myself out of this fairytale land and see where the owner is right now,  in his stance towards animals and responsibility if I want them to understand me. I cannot assume that they see right away that what they are doing is not benefitting others and themselves, when I tell them without being empathic of their situation. So a lot of slowing down and breathing myself through situations to see where I can stand as an example. Like I do with picking up sir Oliver’s poop in a plastic bag and throw it away in the designated trash bin or not shouting at him when I like to go to the right and he’s got other plans, just divert his attention by touching him and guide him with a stable voice.