Brody and I went on one of my favorite hikes yesterday. It’s a 3 mile loop, the first half straight up and the second half straight down the side of a mountain plunked square in the middle of a suburban center.
It’s unusual to have such a pleasant, heart pumping yet short hike so conveniently located. And at the top, you get an amazing 360 degree view of the entire county.
As such, it is the most popular trail in San Diego. If you can deal with the ankle-twisting rocks, the crowds, and the difficult parking it’s a great way to spend an hour in the morning.
Not all of the trails in the county allow dogs, so on top of all the people running around, there are also a bunch of dogs. I would say 95% of the people and dogs on the trail are respectful and considerate, which is great considering how tight some of the stretches are and like it or not you’re rubbing shoulders as you pass.
This is one of the times I without exception use the Gentle Leader, as it allows me the best control over Brody’s head. We are making lots of headway with the jumping, so with him the main thing is simply that he looks at everyone. His head cannot help but turn, and if he gets a positive response, he’ll go in for a pet.
I know that not everyone wants a groin full of Golden nose at 9 in the morning, and I respect that, hence the leader. There was a woman today who shrieked, an AIEEEEEE like that God-awful cell phone commercial with the spider, when he did no more than peer at her. Not everyone is a dog person, alas. So when I walk him with the Gentle Leader and the leash choked down to a good 18 inches or so in the tight spots, we keep to ourselves very well.
So picture us, having made it to the top after a long and steady climb. Brody’s panting like a perverted prank caller, so we find an empty rock amongst the crowd and stop for water. I’m talking to him like your typical crazy dog person- “Who’s a good boy? YOU’RE a good boy! Thirsty, huh?” etc etc.
We pause for pictures, and as I’m fiddling with the camera I hear someone behind me grumbling just a little too audibly, the way passive aggressive people do when they have a complaint but rather than just voice it directly, they talk loud enough so that the object of their disdain cannot help but overhear.
“People with aggressive dogs have no business bringing them to a crowded trail!” he was saying to his companion. I silently nodded agreement, wondering who he was referring to. We met at least 5 dogs on the trail on the way up, but none of them were aggressive.
His companion agreed. “Bringing a muzzled dog here is just wrong.”
And then I realized- they were complaining about ME. Still, after 10 + years on the market, we have to deal with this silly song and dance about head halters? Why doesn’t anyone accuse horses of being man-eaters every time they have a halter on, huh? Brody, who was sitting quietly on his rock looking just like he does in this picture, being glared at. It makes me really feel for the people who own so-called “dangerous” breeds, doomed for judgment before they even get a chance to open their mouth to give you a happy lick.
So anyway, I sat there for a moment, debating what to do. I turned around surreptitiously. The guy looked like a jerk anyway, which is a terrible thing to say but if he can judge my dog based on a purple flowered piece of fabric on his nose then I can judge him by that Burt Reynolds pornstache hanging onto his snarled lip for dear life.
I thought about correcting him and telling him about the lovely benefits of the head halter, but going back to my prior feelings about cost-benefit analysis decided against it. If his position was that muzzled dogs shouldn’t be on the trail, I would be nothing short of impolite if I didn’t oblige.
So I took off the Gentle Leader and hooked him up to his collar, all while muttering in an equally loud voice, “Now be a good boy, OK?” They left shortly thereafter.
We passed them on the trail a little ways down, Brody playing along by neglecting to maul either guy as we passed. Golden: 1, Pornstache: 0.