Sunday, February 26, 2006

Beware of Big Dogs on Little Sidewalks

Sunday night, Raj and I were walking down 94th street in search of a cab heading downtown. We were pleasantly full, having just enjoyed a very relaxing evening of shrimp and grits, homemade chocolate pudding, and the documentary "Murderball," with his sister and her boyfriend. It was chilly and I felt energized by the good company and good food (and since Raj was a touch too full to run) I decided to run ahead to the corner to try to hold a cab for us.

I had run and skipped halfway down the block
when I looked ahead and suddenly saw a woman with two extremely large dogs on leashes about 20 feet away heading towards me on the sidewalk. The dogs had noticed me too. They were big and black, maybe a Rottweilers, each of them approximately 120 lbs, and they were frozen up ahead staring at me.

Interested in my own self-preservation, and very conscious of that fact that all 4 of us were going to share the same 4 feet of sidewalk in just a few moments and observing that the woman was not holding the leashes taught -- in fact there was a whole lot of slack on each of them -- I too froze, and then pressed myself up against the side of the building on the edge of the sidewalk to give the woman and her dogs as much room as possible. I suppose I could have chosen to walk cross the street immediately, instead of staying on the sidewalk, but at the time I thought the woman holding the leashes was a rational, considerate human being. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed (1) that she would be able to control these two gigantic dogs (because otherwise she had no business being out on the street with them) and (2) that she would use that control to pull the dogs towards her over to the far side of the sidewalk and let the two of us pass each other without incident. Foolish.

Instead, the woman kept coming towards me taking up most of the sidewalk with her dogs, who by this point were growling viciously at me and straining at their loosely held leashes. The woman swore at them a few times and jerked on their leashes, but the dogs continued to growl. They were about 10 feet away, and I was acutely aware of that fact that if they decided to use the slack in their leashes to lunge at me, I would have no where to run because my back was pressed up against the side of the building. I had no faith in the woman because it was clear she lacked an ability to control them, and other than jerking at their leashes she was making no effort to pull the dogs aside to let me pass safely.

I decided to make a quick exit and darted across the street to safety, mildly shaken after seeing visions of the two dogs ripping out my throat race across my mind. Raj was about 15 feet behind me at that point, having caught up while I was pressed against the building. As I darted across the street I motioned for him to follow me and, indicating the woman struggling with the two dogs who were continuing to growl viciously, I said in warning, "Watch out, those dogs are rabid." Raj took a look at the dogs and started following me across the street. He was smiling at me and laughingly joked to me, "What did you do, make a face at them?"

I was about to answer, when the woman, heretofore to be known as the biatch-with-the-dogs-on-94th-and-2nd, who was now at least 20 feet away from me because I had given up my right to the sidewalk and wisely crossed the street because of her inconsiderate and potentially dangerous inability to control her animals, said, "yeah," and then snapped "You don't run at dogs." Excuse me Bi-atch? You're dogs almost brutally attack me, and I save you from the certain lawsuit that would have resulted which would have left you penniless and alone with two dead dogs, and you decide to tell me that I was wrong for using a sidewalk that I have every right to use?? Incredulous at her snappishness, I shouted back something to that effect, to which she responded, "Fuck you!" What? That seemed a bit uncalled for. Raj, catching the tailend of this altercation, gallantly came to my defense at that moment and yelled, "Shut the fuck up!" which she completely deserved because I literally had done nothing except for use the sidewalk just like everyone else in New York is allowed to do.

To my shock, she then escalated the exchange up another notch by yelling, "Why don't you come back here and I'll let the dogs loose on you!" Clearly, in addition to lacking any semblance of good manners, she has no understanding of the law. Threatening to let your two giant ferociously-growling dogs loose on another person is threatening assault. Assault carries series legal penalties, including fines and jail time. And threatening to use your dogs as lethal weapons could be grounds for having them removed from your care. Not a smart thing if you actually care about your dogs and want to spend any more time with them.

After my life was threatened, I was understandably momentarily enraged and wanted to call her all manner of nasty names, but I refrained. Mainly because the whole episode was ridiculous. And partially because I was genuinely upset and felt just a tiny bit like I was going to cry. It seemed so unfair. To be happily running down the street, only to be brought up short by meanness and viciousness. Probably she was just having a bad day and decided to take it out on me. Raj theorized that the dogs weren't even hers -- that she was walking them for her boyfriend and was probably pissed at him about having to walk to giant ferocious dogs that she clearly could not control. I suspect she probably reacted so strongly because she was even more scared than I was that the dogs were going to attack me, and she knew she couldn't control them. Instead of taking responsibility for her lack of control and being polite and humble, she opted to try to bitch me out once she and the dogs were past me and blame her inability on me.

Maybe there was just something in the air yesterday, because earlier in the day I witnessed a cab driver screaming at another driver that he should "Give this [his middle finger] to your mother." Or maybe it's just what's to be expected in a huge city like New York, where millions of strangers pass each other every day, usually peacefully without incident, but occasionally where they smack into one another -- ala the film "Crash" -- and take out their personal frustrations, fears and fury on each other, whether deserved or not.

Once inside the cab with Raj, I started to feel better. It's like everything in life: I don't care what people do or what people believe as long as they don't impose it upon me. You don't believe in abortion? Fine. Just don't try to make me believe that or tell me that I can't have one. You believe that you will be damned for drawing negative images of the Prophet Mohammed? Fine. Just don't try to make me believe that I will be damned if I do the same thing or threaten to chop off my head if I draw pictures you don't like. You believe you should be able to keep two vicious giant dogs chained up in your house and fail to properly train them? Fine. No problem. But when you bring them outside where you and they will have to react with the rest of humanity, don't expect others to give up their rights of movement for your idiocy and incompetence.


Dutch said...

"I save you from the certain lawsuit that would have resulted which would have left you penniless and alone with two dead dogs"

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha you are SUCH a lawyer.

Buttercup said...

Thanks Dutch! Glad to inject a little humor into your day. :) And it's soooo true.

raj said...

that bitch was crazy and vicious. And her dogs were pretty bad too. If she didn't have those dogs with her, i think buttercup would've kicked her ass. Or I would have. NO ONE messes with my buttercup.