Sorry, neighbor. But your dog's gotta stay away from runners.

Call me the mean dog-hater (even though I’m not.) Call me the crazy runner lady (OK, guilty). But please, just call off your dog!

I love running through the quiet neighborhood streets near my home. One little loop, measuring about 2.5 miles, winds homeward from a pleasant trail system that I enjoy.

But there’s one spot on this route that gives me pause.

It’s always the same spot – a house situated a few blocks from mine. I know the family, because we have shared some common interests and mutual friends.

That family's dog frequently charges at me and my rescue pup (who is harnessed and leashed to a cani-cross belt I wear). The assailant is not a nasty, mean, ferocious dog. But he has taken me and my dog to the ground on occasion.

This loose pet repeatedly bolts from this neighbor’s driveway and crashes right into me or my dog. Instantly, he tangles himself in my dog’s leash. I have to stop and unwind the two excited canines before we all end up rolling across the gravelly pavement (which we have done).

The problematic dog is not exactly like this.

This situation has persisted for several months.

Although I always pass this home on the opposite side of the street (just in case), I cannot tell you how many times this dog has sprung upon us without warning. Sure, I have kind of come to expect it. But he always surprises my young dog.

This weekend, as my dog and I jogged up the hill in front of this particular house, their untethered dog did his thing again. I hollered, “No!” as I attempted to free my dog from the melee.

I glanced up this neighbor’s driveway and spotted a group of folks seated there in lawn chairs.

Oh, good, I thought. Maybe someone will call off the dog.

But no. They didn't even seem to notice what was happening to us across the street.

Great, I thought. The dog is loose again, and no one is paying attention to him.

Finally, I extracted my dog and me, and we made our way up the hill towards home.

Along the way, I wrestled with the situation. Should I say something to the neighbor about the dog? I don’t enjoy those kinds of conversations or confrontations. On the other hand, this has become a dangerous dilemma. The dog has tripped us and toppled us before. I’ve even come home from there with skinned knees and ripped running pants.

The problem has persisted. It’s not a one-time thing.

Did I mention there is a strict leash law in our town?

I have friends who have paid pricey tickets, when their pooches have been caught running loose.

I run almost daily, and I have logged several hundred miles already this year. Along the way, I pass countless dogs, who never approach. Sure, they may bark. But none of these pets are free to enter the public roadway. They are all contained or restrained on their own properties by fences, leashes, tethers, ties, or radio collars.

He's big and unruly, but he may just want to play like this.

Still, I pondered whether to mention the errant dog to his owner.

We’re sort of friends. I thought, What would I rather have someone do, if things were the other way around?

I keep my pup on a leash or her own run in my yard. Sure, she has escaped once or twice, but I’ve caught her immediately and put her back. I don’t let her remain loose in the yard or driveway.

But still, I thought about how to address this whole deal.

The honest and cooperative course of action seemed to be to convey the situation clearly and directly and privately to the dog-owning neighbor. I didn’t discuss it with other friends or neighbors, potentially besmirching the owners’ (or their dog’s) reputation. I didn’t even consider reporting the dog.

But safety smarts, common courtesy, and local laws say he should be like this.

I’m still not telling you who it was (even my local readers).

I contacted the neighbor privately, one-on-one, with carefully chosen wording. I explained that their dog seemed friendly, but that his frequent and sudden on-road rumbles with me and my leashed pet were becoming rather perilous to us. I mentioned that we had even hit the ground on multiple occasions.

What was the response?

The neighbor defended the dog, saying he is non-aggressive and that they’ve never had an issue with him. But she said she would tell her family. Curiously, she did not say they would find a means of containing or restraining the dog.

I hope they do, though.

If the dog darts to ambush another runner and possibly another dog, I’m not sure the pet owner will receive a quiet, private heads-up on it.

Although the weather is warming up around here, things seem a little chilly along that stretch of my regular running route. But if that dog will be prevented from plunging down their driveway and barging into us (or others) in the public street, then at least we can celebrate safety.

Adapted from public domain artwork.

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