What Would You Do? PC Sensitive
The boys and I just had a very new experience, for them and me, and I'm just wondering if anyone has any PC suggestions for future handling.
There is a fenced in off-leash dog park in my neighborhood. Since Cafall was bitten earlier this year we only go when it's empty. This morning I was alone at the park with my boys just bouncing around and having fun when a wheelchair bound woman started following the path along outside edge of the dog park with her dachshund.
My boys sniffed at the dachshund through the fence and then went on their merry way chasing each other again. A few minutes later I happen to look up and see she had wheeled into the entrance of the park and was preparing to let her dachshund into the big dog side. I immediately started towards her and called out that it would be better to let the dogs play through the fence separating the large and small dog sides as my husky has a very high prey drive and doesn't do well with small dogs.
She just shook her head and said "It's okay, Buddy like big dogs." In the past I've always just gathered up my boys and left as I know Finder (my husky) will cause a problem with the small dog. Trying to be nice about it, I made the excuse that she could have the park and we'd just go because it was getting cold anyway. She vehemently shook her head, unleashed her dog, shoved it through the gate, and then snapped the gate closed behind it. Thereby shutting herself outside the park and her dog inside the park.
Thankfully, I was able to grab Finder as he went lunging past me for the dachshund. I kept hold of his collar called Cafall over and got them both leashed. As I was doing that the dachshund had backed away into a corner, despite the woman telling it, "Get them! Get them, Buddy!"
I went to leave but she was physically blocking gate from opening with her wheelchair. I said 'excuse me', but she just shook her head at me and kept calling "Get them, Buddy!" It was at that time I realized she had a mental handicap as well and was not functioning on an adult level.
I tried again, "Excuse me, we need to leave," but she kept shaking her head. I just stood there for a minute a bit dumbstruck and trapped. Finally, the only thing I could think to do was tie my boys up to the fence with their leash handles, grab the dachshund's leash off the fence post, and try to give her her dog back. Buddy was submissively urinating when I got to him. I clipped his leash on and then led him to the gate. By the time we got there the woman had opened the gate and thrust her hand through, "My Buddy!"
I gave her the leash and she hauled her dog back through the gate and motored away without another word. With her chair no longer blocking the gate I was able to go untie my boys and leave. After we got home I just sat down and had the whole scenario replay over and over in my head and it got me thinking.
I have very little personal experience interacting with individuals with disabilities whether mental or physical, and certainly almost none where my dogs would be in the situation with me. How do you handle situations where your dog(s) unexpectedly encounters a person who may/may not be in full control of their faculties? Or on the flips side, as perhaps a caretaker or handicapped individual yourself, what steps would you like to see taken by the dog owner in the event you unexpectedly come upon a dog?
Apologies if I have stated any of this in a politically incorrect manner, that was not my intention. I pride myself on constantly trying to improve the life of my dogs and my handling of them, and after this morning found an area where I have a very large knowledge gap.