Look, I have a complicated relationship with the cyclists who travel 32nd Street and thereabouts. I know it’s not politically correct to say, but you’re mostly in my way. Mine is a reasonably trafficked street, but it only has two lanes, so when you’re riding your bike between moving cars and parked cars, with your little kiddie trailer swaying behind you, you get on my nerves.
When I am on foot with my four-legged companions, I go out of my way not to cause problems for you and your buddies, the joggers and the strollers, skateboarders and scooter gliders. I know I have big scary dogs and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated by us on the sidewalk.
I have my own baggage where this is concerned. It is because of you, because of all of you, that I couldn’t walk Isis on her very own street. I wished we lived in a neighborhood with no other people at all, near a woodsy trail all to ourselves. When Isis started consistently barking and lunging at passing bicycles, I tried setting my alarm and timing my walks to avoid all of you fit, environmentally friendly people on your morning commutes. I followed the Dog Whisperer’s advice and kept walking, walking, because walking is the answer to all behavior problems. And if she saw a bike, I would bump her with my leg to distract her from the oncoming threat. Doing this while she was midbark resulted in her powerful jaw coming down and leaving a nasty bruise on my thigh. To be honest, I have no idea how you cyclists felt about this, because I was so distracted by Isis’ tantrum, that I never even saw your faces. I wondered whether Isis was barking at the same person day after day, and why that person didn’t get the message and find another route.
Later I learned methods of desensitizing her to sidewalk stimuli, but walking her remained stressful the rest of her life.
Walking my dogs now is a joy. Leo had his own challenges, like when he used to jump up and chomp on our arms and legs (and Rob’s crotch) in the middle of the walk. Have to say, I was less embarrassed to have my dentist drive by and see Isis raging at a golden retriever in its own yard than I was to stand on the sidewalk with my puppy dangling from my bloody arm. But Leo’s a good walker now, and last week I started walking him and Mia at the same time by myself.
This morning, a couple of bicycles passed us, including one that made that clicking noise that sometimes startles dogs. The doggies thought nothing of it. At one point, Leo started doing a little dance behind me and I turned around, surprised to see you, sunglassed, helmeted teenager, whizzing from behind, stealthlike. I hadn’t heard you coming, or else I would have protected you from my dog’s terrifying stare. I don’t even think Leo barked, but maybe he jumped his front legs off the ground in your direction.
You looked at me through your mirrored shades and extended your middle finger as you rode by.
Seriously, what did we ever do to you? Do you think it’s easy, walking 170 pounds of German shepherds? I’m very considerate of the people who share the road. Sometimes people stare or move funny and set off my dogs, but do I give them the finger? No. I am a grown woman.
My very mature response was “Thanks. For the finger.” And you were gone. I do wish I could discuss this with you further. Was I being somehow irresponsible or rude to walk my dogs on that sidewalk? My feelings are hurt, here. Really, they are.
You stupid a-hole.