My mother-in-law had asthma and was highly allergic to dogs. She was born and raised on a farm, so she was not afraid of dogs in the usual sense, but her fear of the allergens made her afraid of dogs. Sometimes people would try to calm her, telling her a dog was harmless, either not knowing or not believing her concerns.
Yesterday I sat in a folding chair and my husband in his wheelchair just off the path of a public park. We ate lunch and watched the people come by. Some people had dogs. I am neither afraid of dogs nor allergic to them, but my husband is allergic to them. A golden retriever, wet from being in the water, came up to me and put his head on my knee. I did not encourage him. He got my pants wet and dirty.
I was not going anywhere afterwards and no harm was done. The dog was neither obnoxious nor threatening. My clothes dried quickly and the dirt will wash out. Nevertheless, I was not happy about the incident. Perhaps I am getting old and intolerant, but I think in a park where signs say that dogs should be on leashes, the dogs should either be on leashes or be so well behaved they do not approach strangers.
When the owners came up to us and apologized for their dog, I pointed out the spot on my pants. I did not display anger or even annoyance, but they should know that that their dog caused a mild problem.
Of course it wasn’t the dog that was the problem. The owners obviously think leash laws means other people’s dogs. Who can object to a friendly golden retriever? It was likely they thought I was rude to point out the dog got my pants wet. After all, the dog was tempted because I had food.
This is another incident where people feel that rules don’t apply to them. I would not like to see parks forbid dogs. Yet my mother-in-law, would have had a genuine gripe. She sometimes limited her activities because secondhand smoke caused asthma attacks. She was happy to have that particular problem solved in her lifetime.
It is not for the dog owner to to decide if their dog would cause a serious problem, a mild annoyance, or be a welcome distraction. When the rules are there, people going to a park have a right to expect they are followed. Why not just obey the rules?