Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dangerous Dogs

Half a kilometer away from us on a path at the back of the chateau is a small hamlet of houses. It is on a public right of way, which joins up to a quiet road.
I think the houses all belong to the same farming family.
There is an old shed outside the house of the parents, and there are about ten Breton spaniels, which are hunting dogs, inside it. I can see them through the wire netting, and they jump up and down enthusiastically when they detect Porridge passing by. They bark, but in a cheery rather than aggressive way. The smell as one approaches is overpowering... I don't think they get out much.
The driveway of the same house has a big gate with iron bars and when we pass, the alsation which is there hurls itself at the bars. There is also another dog which is a pit bull boxery sort of cross breed. When the two of them are unable to attack Porridge as she nervously bolts past, they usually turn on each other, and we walk up the hill to the music of snarling and yelping as they have at each other.
The younger members of the commune live in the house next door to it. A couple of years ago, one of their dogs raced out of their garden and chased Porridge, so I asked them to tie it up, or at least restrain it. They did grudgingly, and for a while we would walk past, and sometimes as many as five dogs were all chained next to their respective kennels, growling and lunging at us.
And then they disappeared... We have not seen them for a year or more.

Yesterday, I went for a walk with Porridge, and I saw a tractor outside the parents' house, on the road, and a young man with a small child of three years old or so was working on a wood pile. I couldn't see the other side of the tractor. As I got closer to them both, I said "Bonjour" as you do. The man replied "Bonjour" and then started saying "Reste là!" (stay there) and "Couchez" (lie down) rather emphatically and urgently to the other side of the tractor. Porridge and I accelerated nervously and shot up the other side of the hill.

I was a bit pressed for time, I didn't have time to do the whole circuit, so I had to come back the way I had come.
I suppose part of me was also feeling, why the hell not!
After all, it is a public route!
I walked into the line of sight of the man, and he very deliberately bent down and lifted up the child and put it high up on an enormous tree stump as soon as he saw me.

Out of danger...

My blood ran cold but there was nothing for it but to continue.
We walked past as fast as we could accompanied by increasingly loud shouts of "couchez" et "reste là". The dog came out from behind the tractor, and I saw only a brown blur, but he must have got it under control, because we were not followed.

When I got home I realised how very angry I was. I think it was the action of moving his child to safety before I walked past that got to me.
The child was in danger from his own dog, certainly not mine, a retriever!
And he knew this.
Why is he keeping a dog he can't control, putting me (and his own family) at risk ?
I really don't understand it.
Anyone got any ideas?


jane sutherland said...

I have the same sense of anger when I see young men (and it always is young men of a particular ilk and dress code) with Staffordshire Bull Terriers over which they clearly have no control. My theory is that it relates to dogs as status - dangerous dog = dangerous male.
Battersea Dogs Home have so many Staffies that need re-homing they have started a bus shelter poster campaign, trying to persuade people that Staffies can be good pets - which I'm sure they can if they are properly trained and properly controlled. So, that's my rant over and done with!!

Zhoen said...

The way people without empathy treat animals is a constant bafflement to me.

Lucy said...

God only knows, I despair of the morons.

julia said...

after I left France new people moved into the village. They had two large dogs that they kept locked in the garage all day long except for one day when they got out and killed the pretty pony in the field over the road. Vicious dogs seem to be a fact or rural life in France. Alas.