Posted by: petsweekly | July 20, 2010

The Road (or sidewalk) Less Traveled

Walking the DogMy good friend, Dee from DERMagic recently had an unfortunate sidewalk incident with a hostile jogger while walking her two pups.

Normally I don’t get involved in political debates, but since it’s my friend’s birthday, I figured I would jump in and throw her a bone.

The rules of walking dogs on sidewalks are vague. Indeed, they are often not mentioned at all and I’m really not sure that there is any type of law on the books. I’m sure a reader will enlighten me on the laws as my readers are so great about doing. But until I hear from them, I’m going to defer to my brief google search and subsequent lack of results from typing in “sidewalk law”.

I’ve personally never had to deal with it. The beauty of having a wolf/coyote is that I never have to share the sidewalk, or the road, or the dog park, with … well, with anyone. Parents literally pick up small children and hide behind bushes, joggers cross to the other side of the road, cars slow down but don’t stop, staring at you like you’re some kind of attraction at a drive through theme park. If it wasn’t so insulting, it would be funny. Tristan never meant to scare anyone and he was gentle as a bird. But he didn’t look like it as he slinked through the park, sneering at everything in his path.

Generally the only type of animal with enough courage (or stupidity) to approach Tristan and I on our walks was the occasional small dog. Usually a Chihuahua or a Yorkie. (I don’t know why they do it, but I do think it may explain why they get eaten by wildlife more often than other dogs.)

But back to the initial question. Who has the right of way on the sidewalk? Joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, or isolated humans?

You know I’m going to side with the dog walkers.

Look at it this way – if you’re driving a car up an unpaved mountain back-road, common courtesy (and I hope common sense) says the car driving downhill should pull off to the side and let the car going uphill pass by. That’s because it’s harder for cars to get traction when they are going uphill on dirt.  It’s easy to go downhill.

The same principle applies when walking dogs. The one with the dogs are the ones who have the more difficult time. So the jogger, walker or bicyclist should get out of the way. They can jog around, walk around or bike around someone with a dog.

On that same note, the same principle applies when walking a large dog versus walking a small dog. If you see a big dog coming, let them pass. The people may have less control over that animal. Or at the very least, their big dog could easily eat your little dog, no matter how much control is involved. So it’s just a polite thing to let the larger animal pass. Pick up your little dog, or at least keep him on a tight leash. And people with big dogs, you have a responsibility to make sure your pet is under control at all times.

Joggers, walkers, bikers – stop your whining. Just go around the dogs. Good Lord – how hard is that? You’re a bipedal. That gives you superior maneuverability, so how ’bout you use that skill and get the hell out of the way? Don’t just lie on the sidewalk moaning about how you’re going to sue someone because their “little dogs tripped you.” Stand up – be a man (or woman). Tell the little dogs you’re sorry and that you didn’t mean to scare them. Geez. Dogs have two extra legs to worry about plus their owners. It’s confusing for the little guys!

Can’t we all just get along?

And Dee – I’m thinking that you may need to adopt a coyote in order to ward off angry joggers. They are so much more effective at inspiring courtesy in others!


  1. Stacy… you are so right. As soon as I sell this townhouse, I’m getting a baby tiger. Or, on second thought, maybe I’ll get one now. Then again, maybe I should get a wild adult carnivore now, one with big teeth and sharp claws, and wait for those joggers to trip over the leash… Teehee…

  2. I love it!
    Of course I also agree, so it would only make sense for me to appreciate this entry. (< :
    But, to be the "realist", (which most consider to be a pessimist) I naturally am, come on! We are talking about humans here. And specifically, the all too often feeling of entitlement in which almost every human has.
    So, really, what would one expect ? Unless, like almost all humans, expecting the "entitlement" of Respect! And good luck with THAT one!

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