To the editor:
As a concerned pet owner, I think it's important for people on the street to ask whether or not it's OK for them to pet a dog owned by somebody else. I enjoy taking my dog for walks on Mass. Street, but very frequently, over-excited adults and children suddenly run over to my dog with outstretched hands and screaming voices. Although I am happy my dog is receiving attention and socialization, it's happening in a way that could be potentially dangerous for the dog and to people.
To the unknowing, a dog may look sweet, but who knew Fido could be defensive, fear aggressive or be downright vicious? Most dogs are not prepared to have a hand suddenly shoved in their face while walking along. For them it is startling and unfamiliar.
Since I cannot control the actions of others, I always correct my dog for being skittish toward people. On the contrary, I cannot control my dog if she is provoked and she defends herself. While that would be a worst-case scenario, people on the street need to be aware of this.
The next time you are out on the street, remember to keep your hands to yourself. Parents, teach your children to be calm, quiet and gentle with a stranger's dog or when approaching one. Even long-time dog owners cannot predict which behavior their dog will exhibit in any given situation. We expect the best from our dogs, but any dog owner would say that isn't always what you get.