It's Reining (in) Cats and Dogs!

Aug. 3, 2011

It’s Reining (in) Cats and Dogs!

A Letter from a Local Runner….

I feel it’s time to address the issue of off-leash dog walking. As a resident of South Milwaukee I am amazed by the number of dog owners I see who don’t believe in leashing their dog, both on the streets and in Grant Park. We have local ordinances for pet owners, and as a refresher, I’ve included a copy of a sign.

OK, so why did I spend time during my 8 miler today composing this letter? I was chased down by a nasty little Pekinese whose owner felt the need to tell me I have an issue with fearing dogs. Hmmm? No, I have an issue with pausing my workout to address this concern over and over. These unleashed canines force me to stop running for a number of reasons:

1. They peer curiously at my ankles to see if they are bite worthy

2. Unbridled love – one pup on hind legs knocked me in my mandible bone forcing me to get an X-ray. I’ve had running injuries, but never before a punch in the jaw from an overzealous pooch!

3. Stranger Investigation – Who is this woman and doesn’t all her salty perspiration look yummy!

4. I don’t want to trip over or step on your dog and have to pony up a vet bill

So much for the dogs, now let’s discuss these owners. If I don’t know your dog, I most likely don’t know you. So, off goes my baseball cap and on goes my law enforcement hat. I gently, between panting breaths, remind owners of my rights under the law, “Dogs belong on leashes. It’s the law.” I’ve developed an easy classification system for the owner’s responses.

The first type looks at me sheepishly and apologizes for Fife’s intrusion on my run. Of course, my chastisement doesn’t change their feeling that Fife has more rights than I do. I know this when I encounter the same pair later in the week. The second sort, not as sheepish, yells at the dog and then curtly apologizes that this is Barney’s first episode of boorish behavior. The third type yells at me!!!!!! This scenario is my worst fear! Now Buster isn’t the only one snarling and baring his teeth!…. Folks, do you really wish to be classified with the people in any of these categories?

Trust me, I love dogs! I own one. If I felt the need to let him roam freely I’d drive to one of our Dog Parks, or DEA (Dog Exercise Areas) in Cudahy or Oak Creek. Here, Honey and Lucky may frolic, dash, and explore to their heart’s content.

On to cats... Perhaps you’ve watched the Lion King a few too many times. Or, maybe you’re still hummin’ the theme to Born Free (dating myself here) and feel that Tigger is genetically engineered to hunt for his dinner each night. You own a domesticated cat I’m sorry to say – not Elsa, Simba, or Mufusa. You live in South Milwaukee and not on the plains of Kenya. Tigger is not tracking down zebra or antelope – he’s killing our beautiful song birds.

Some ideas here…. You could leash your cat! There’s nothing wrong with people thinking you’re a little eccentric! As a WI runner for 35 years who is out in the sloppiest, windiest, and scariest (What’s a little thunder and lightning?) weather, I’ve been called eccentric. So, your cat walk routine gets a few raised eye brows and you have people muttering, “Hey, that’s the woman who doesn’t realize her pet isn’t a dog!” Who cares? Not only will “ornithophiles” love you, so will the makers of Friskies.


See you on the trails!

Linda Marquardt, NBCT, BS, MA

734 Elm Avenue





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