The Deranged Durand-Eastman Sociopath
There is a leash ordinance for parks in the city of Rochester. I understand this, and due to the fact that there isn't a dog park in Rochester, I knowlingly violate this law occasionally. Even though it isn't enforced, I still realize that this is illegal. Our dogs have never physically harassed anyone. The worst thing they do is bark evry now and then or beg for treats, which we don't encourage by any means. Also we always take some plastic bags with us to pick up their poop.
This past Sunday our dogs were happily playing and wrestling with the other dogs in the park. A couple of other dogs barked at some people walking in the south entrance of the park and our dog, Beardsley, joined in because he's still a puppy and he copies everything the older dogs do. We called for him to come back to see us but he was too excited to see the "new people". He has a deep bark and we don't want him to make people nervous so Sherry called out that he was friendly and walked towards them to grab our dog.
The older man that was with them looked at us and then when our dog got near him he kicked our dog so hard that the man lost his balance and fell onto the ground. Our dog let out a blood-curdling yelp that I hope to never hear again. As the man got up he started screaming at us about the leash law and how he would call the cops next time. The other dog owner that was there (pathetically I only know his dogs names), Sherry, and I were speechless at what had just happened.
The man and his family continued on their walk as we just stood there in silence. The poor kids were probably traumatized and will most likely have a needless fear of dogs. The other dog owner present consoled us and promptly spread the word to everyone else that we passed in the park. A couple with a small spaniel said that they passed the kids and they appeared to be deathly afraid of their dog.
There were several other dog owners with us now and the crazy man approached us on his way out with what I had hoped was going to be an apology. The first words out of his mouth were complaints about the dog poop that appeared after the snow melted. I can understand this complaint, I don't understand why it's so hard for some people to grab a few Wegmans bags to take with them and pick up the poop. Then he went in to complain about how when he jogged there he's had dogs nip at his heels before. That is unacceptable dog-owner behavior as well. He went on to say how the 3 year old that was with him has gotten knocked down in the past. Another valid complaint, but none of those acts had been committed by any of the dogs there, let alone the one that he decided to take out his frustration on. One of the other dog owners suggested that maybe he needs to learn how to read a dog before he starts needlessly kicking them. He replied that he did (which he doesn't), and that it was obvious none of us had kids (it's obvious he's never had a pet) otherwise we'd understand that his actions were justifyable. (Note to all non-dog-owners: for future reference, if a dog is wagging his tail when he's trotting towards you, he's not going to bite you.) Until this man kicked our dog, our dog had no reason to fear or bite any person. The rest of the conversation is a bit fuzzy because I was so enraged and disturbed by the lunatic. It ended with him having a few words with several other dog-owners and then he said he was going to call the cops and bring mace the next time he came to the park.
The police never showed up. Thinking back I wish they would've. I'd gladly pay whatever the fine is for an unleashed pet to see this man arrested for animal cruelty. I never thought to get his name or anything like that. He'd probably get off with a warning anyways. The other dog-owner who witnessed everything is at the park about 3 times a day with his dogs and I'm sure he'll help spread the word of warning to others to avoid this psycho. Our dog appears to not be injured, he must've "rolled with the punches" pretty well. I think the experience was much more harmful to Sherry and I. I never thought I'd have to start leashing our dogs to protect them from humans. (and to think all this time I've been looking out for the White Lady of Durand-Eastman and her killer German Shepherds)
Addendum: After I initially posted this, I thought that I would add a little additional psychological analysis to the madman's actions (I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist by any means, but it was my concentration in college)... If the guy hadn't understood dogs, or was attacked by a dog in the past, then I would understand if he was afraid of them, but there were several things that he did that made me realize that he was just acting unreasonably aggressive.
The first thing is that our dog was running away from him when he was kicked. If I saw a grizzly bear or a rabid wolf coming at me, and it started to run away, I sure as hell wouldn't try to kick it as it ran away. On top of the fact that he made eye contact with Sherry and she verbally told him that our dog was friendly.
Then when the man was on the way out and tried to explain himself, the first words out of his mouth should've been that he was worried about the kids he had with him. I could understand irrational actions if they were made by a parent who feared that their child was in danger. It wasn't, the first thing he did was complain about the dog crap, as if that somehow justified his actions. All it did was just show that he was acting out of his anger at dogs and their owners and not fear for the kids' safety.
When one of the other dog-owners suggested that he was setting a bad example for the children (by making them be afraid of dogs), he said that he teaches them to defend themselves. He said it as if he were some kind of cowboy on a crusade. Self-defense would be one thing, but pre-emptive violence is another. The first thing that you learn in any self-defense class or martial art is that violence is a last resort. The man made no warning to us to "call our dog" and he didn't care that we told him our dog was friendly. He wanted to kick our dog.