DH and I have been taking the kids hiking the past few weeks - there are some fantastic trails in our town and I've been itching to get out there and check them out. These trails are seriously some hidden gems that most of the townfolk don't seem to know about. We started hiking one set of trails in particular that are fast becoming a part of my top ten fave places to be. When walking them, it's kind of easy to feel like we're all lost in the wilderness, exploring the great outdoors, far away from the daily grind. And there are so many different paths to take - we've been doing this most evenings for the past two months, once the littles get out of school and we haven't hiked all the trails yet.
But, the point of this post is unfortunately not to discuss the merits of these family adventures - instead, I want to talk about an incident that occurred today just as we were finishing up our hike. I want to preface this story by first saying that what happened this evening won't deter us from hiking in the future, nor will it spoil the rest of my night. But since I'm still ruminating on it and I want to let it go and move on, I'm going to spill it here.
As we were finishing up our hike tonight, we came out from the trails by the clearing that leads back to the parking lot and we could see a huge Doberman Pinscher loping towards us. It was not leashed, and I recognized him, and his owners, from a hike we went on just a few days ago. This is the second time I saw him without a leash. For the record, I consider myself a dog person and I do like dogs. I am not, in general, afraid of them. But some dogs, especially large ones, can be very intimidating - even to adults who like dogs. This one intimidated me, and since we just had an incident with another large, unleashed dog a couple of days ago (on the same hiking trails) that involved DS, I was a little more sensitive to this than I might have been in the past. Though I was fairly certain this Doberman tonight meant us no harm and just wanted to check us out, I was very uncomfortable with the idea that he was coming closer. And he came awfully close.
And when DH and I expressed our feelings of discomfort, the couple - a man and a woman, (maybe in their sixties, though I didn't get a close look because I was too busy making sure my littles were all safe and accounted for during this exchange) immediately got defensive. The woman said, "He's okay. No, no, he's okay," when she heard DH attempting to herd the children closer to us and prevent them from bounding out into the open field until the dog was gone. (Like me, DH was thinking that the dog might chase the kids if they started running - obviously unacceptable even if the dog wasn't vicious). When I heard her say that in response to DH's concern that her dog might possibly be a safety issue for our children, I called out, "That dog needs to be on a leash." The lady repeated herself, "No! No! He's okay. It's okay, he's okay."
No. Not okay. It's not okay that this cunt's response to our concern for the safety of our children (because of HER pet) was to completely disregard it. It's not okay that she felt the leash laws in our state and our town that protect my family's right to demand that her dog be on a leash did not apply to her. It's not okay that she thinks it's acceptable to allow her very large and intimidating breed of dog to roam free where it could, however briefly, come in contact with other individuals who are not comfortable with that. It's not okay that she didn't take into consideration that some individuals are allergic to dogs and any form of contact with them could potentially be dangerous. It's not okay that, rather than invoke empathy towards myself and my children, she became almost instantly defensive, and it's not okay that she failed to ever take responsibility and acknowledge that her shitty choices effect other people. It's also not okay that she failed to accede to the many various reasons why leash laws are upheld in our state and our town - a few of which pertain to the safety and well-being of her own damn dog. It's not okay that they never once attempted to call the dog back to them or prevent him from approaching us. I said again, louder this time, "No. It's not okay. He needs to be on a leash."
All of this was being spoken loudly because DH and I were still, I don't know maybe forty feet away from the couple. The dog, at this point, was already closer to us than to his owners. After my second declaration that the dog needed to be on a leash, the man became very condescending and the woman pretty much just lost her shit. The man said something to the effect of, "As long as we have control of the dog, he doesn't have to be on a leash," to which I replied, "No, there are leash laws and all dogs in a public place need to be on a leash."
To that the woman said, "Well, I'm not leashing him." At this point, we all kind of started to converge on one another, as the couple with the dog were heading to their car, DH and the littles were passing them on their way to the field, and I was nearing our car, which was parked right next to theirs. The man said something that I couldn't hear and then followed up with this, directed at me: "Let me explain something to you, Honey," which immediately pissed me off. I replied, "Don't call me Honey" with the same kind of disgust I might have had if I'd stepped in some of his dog's poop. (DH told me afterwards that he responded to that comment, "Don't do that" and the woman's response was something like, "Oh no no, it was innocent, it was innocent" which I think was meant as a way to excuse her husband's comment towards me).
His wife didn't like my response, I guess, because after that she started dropping all kinds of F-Bombs and pretty vicious verbal attacks. She obviously wanted to get the last word in and it didn't seem to matter what I said, because she just kept at it, even though she was obviously preparing to leave. As she was walking to her car, she told me to "Shut the fuck up" and that she was "glad I wasn't her daughter." After the first, DH, sort of stunned, asked me what she had said and I told him she dropped the f-bomb on me. DH said, loudly, so the woman would hear, "Really? In front of the children? You have some nerve, lady."
When she told me she was glad I wasn't her daughter, I confirmed that the feeling was mutual. At least we had that in common. But other than our shared relief over not being biologically related to each other, I can't say we would have had much else to discuss that would have resulted in a pleasant outcome.
It was obvious that she has a seriously debilitating sense of entitlement and a total disregard for at least some societal and interpersonal boundaries. The last thing I remember the man saying was that he would "leave us alone" which I took to mean he actually wanted to back off and move on, even if his condescending tone was still present. If so, his efforts failed because his disgusting wife was totally running THAT show. She F-bombed her way to the car and into the car. Even as she closed her door, leaving her husband to round up the dog, she kept running her mouth - all of it directed at me. When I commented sarcastically to her husband, who had to call his dog to the car several times, that he "really had his dog under control," the woman said, "That's because he smells some shit."
In a matter of, what, three minutes, this woman f-bombed me several times, attempted to insult me on a very personal level, and essentially called me a piece of shit - all in front of my very young children, and all because I demanded that her dog be on a leash and her husband not speak to me in a condescending manner.
So now I'll tell it like it is: The shit that dog was smelling came from it's owners, not me. Anyone who thinks that their dog has more right to roam free than I and my family have to be and feel safe from that dog in a public space, is fucked in the head. Similarly, anyone who believes that they can break the rules because they claim ignorance to any given law, or who believes that they can break a given law because they are above it and it doesn't apply to them, is fucked in the head. Furthermore, anyone who can knowingly disregard laws that have been put in place so that situations such as the one illustrated above can be prevented, and then who dare to respond to their challengers in a way that is completely disproportional and irrational to the situation, are, you guessed it: fucked. in. the. head.
It would be remiss of me to say that this woman was crazy because, in spite of her completely irrational response to my declaration that her dog needed to be leashed, I don't actually think she was. When I say, "fucked in the head" I mean it in the most sane way possible. I think this woman was entirely sane. She's just a big dick. A big dick with a big dog.
I feel bad for the dog. No one should be forced into the company of people like them.
My kids asked questions about the situation, both during and after. It was difficult to answer their questions during the nonsense going on, but DH and I tried our best. DS asked me what the "ex-bomb" was, which I explained was a very nasty word. And while the dumbasses were still getting into their car and within clear sight and hearing-range, DD asked why "those people" were "being nasty and saying bad things." I told them, making sure to project my voice, that "unfortunately, some people are just very rude and nasty."
Then, DH took the kids to the field and I flipped the bird at the assholes as they backed out of their parking space. In hindsight, I REALLY wish I had turned and smiled at them as they drove off, as I think that would have irked them more than my one-fingered-solute likely did. I'm still working on that as a viable response to general asshole-ishness from people though - because I do think it's so much more effective as a defense technique. I have observed that assholes like that hate being laughed at. They hate it when their nastiness doesn't hurt the people they're aiming it at - so what better than to laugh in their faces while they are busy trying to pawn off their misery on the rest of the world?