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29/09/2014 / Julie

City dogs – country people

We have moved. We now live in Oslo. The biggest of cities, where Norway is concerned, and we are living on the west-side. The posh side. A bit of a culture clash for me coming from the country where moving outside in sweats and a woolly jumper is quite normal. I’ve realised that not everywhere do people smile or nod to fellow humans on the street, here it’s more of a stone faced “I can’t see you”. In my home town, everyone has time for a chat, even if you’re in a hurry, whilst here, no one has time to chat, unless they’ve set aside time for it.

I live near a park where the municipal has dedicated a section of the park to dogs. The people who come here are this and that, the think they know a lot, some do, but what is the common thread for all of them are very well behaved dogs. Not necessarily well trained, but around other dogs, they are brilliant. I have yet to meet a dog there being aggressive. There are dogs there that are insecure at times, but then the other dogs either help them out or leave them alone, depending on that dogs body language. I’ve been taking Bajnok and Derria there a lot. Derria gets to roam, sometimes she plays with others, sometimes she just jogs around. When there are few dogs she’s much more likely to play with them, when there are more dogs she tends to oversee and police things. But she has never been rude or unfair. She has stepped in if a dog, typically a young dog, has gotten a bit stressed and started to bully another dog. Just a quick growl and stare and they step down. She seems to command a lot of respect around there. She also keeps dogs away from Bajnok.

I keep Bajnok on the lead when we’re there. I don’t trust him not to start something if another male dog comes a bit too close. He has growled and snapped at a coupled when they get close, and typically they react by walking away. His snapping and growling has decreased a lot. It used to be a near temper tantrum, now it’s a low growl if someone gets too close. Of course I always bring plenty of treats. Bajnok has come on in leaps and bounds, and is now much more comfortable around the others. He would probably be more comfortable around them if the dog park wasn’t so stationary, but as it is centered around a couple benches and a table, it makes it hard to get people and dogs moving.

The dogs in the city are brilliant. They know how to act. Their owners on the other hand. I’m not impressed. Would you let your dog off lead near busy roads? Would you let your dog bother another person and their dog for ten minutes while you stare at your phone? Would you refrain from calling back your dog who was obiously bothering people? All these are situations I’ve both observed and been a part of. Just yesterday when we were training agility, a woman walking her dachshund didn’t notice the dog running over towards our training area. So I stopped and put Bajnok on the table, and held his collar. The woman, engrossed in her phone, didn’t hear me when I called to her twice, “could you recall your dog”, as the dog was entering and pretty much 2 meters away from us. This kind of apathy annoys me to pieces. I wish people would leave their phones alone when they walk their dog.

In the country it is seen as the norm to call your dog back when you meet people on a walk. It is also seen as the norm that your dog shouldn’t run off lead around busy main roads. You may think you’re in control, but what if a cat comes running out? What if an ambulance comes thundering down the road? What if something scares your dog? What if… And that “what if” scares me. Maybe it’s because Derria got hit last winter that I feel it more than most, but I still can’t believe people would bike with their dogs off lead near main roads.

I do love where we live though. Even tough the risk of running into off lead dogs is high, the risk of that dog being aggressive is 0. The biggest problem is the dog being persistant, annoying, and disobedient. That’s where Derria comes in. If we meet a dog that won’t leave us alone, and that the owners can’t, or won’t, call back, I usually release Derria. She will then get the other dog away from Bajnok, and me and him make a hasty retreat, whilst Derria occupies the stranger. The park isn’t far, with open spaces, an agility course, and the dog park. The subway (or above way) is a ten minute walk, and then there’s woods as far as the eye can see at the end of the line.

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