For the first time since moving here in 2013, I have experienced three very rude and hostile, even threatening, incidents walking my dogs along the trails above Vedder River. My two poodle crosses are well-managed and friendly, and I prefer to let them run and play off-leash on walks as is recommended for their breeds. Therefore, occasionally I use the upper dike walk near the Vedder Rotary trails, where it seems clear that dogs are permitted off leash as there is no signage concerning dogs, except at the end of the trail, at Webster Road, where it states that the “off-leash area ends.”
Today, New Year’s Day, during one such walk, my dogs ran down from the dike path to drink from a small pond along Peach Creek Rotary trail. I was prepared to call them back, but I could see no people so went down to join them. A couple with a young son on a bike appeared and, even though my dogs ran away, they continued to lecture me about how my dogs should be on a leash as their son was afraid of dogs. The dogs were long-gone, but I said fine, adding that the leashes wouldn’t have made a difference given how narrow the pathway is. As I was leaving, the man said: “How would you like me to kill your dogs? Next time they even touch my son, I’ll kill them.”
On two other occasions in the past two months I have been threatened in the same area in comparable, if less explicit, ways, also by 30-something men. Once by a man walking an aggressive Husky on a short tether who insisted on lecturing me that a leash was required on the dike and yelling and threatening me, despite the fact that the problem was his own vicious dog. I yelled back and told him he was a bully. Another case was of a man riding a bike very fast who said something similar. I feel these verbal threats and assaults have a gender aspect as well – all made by middle-aged men aggressively asserting rules inappropriately to a single woman.
I have to wonder if this is the cost of the aggressive development along the river. The culture here has always been respectful, courteous, and dog-friendly. I never experienced anything like these incidents in the past. Today, they have impacted me to the extent that I tend to avoid walking there if possible.