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It’s official: I hate Portland Oregon

As I write this, I’m shaking – with shock and with indignation.

I have a Cairn Terrier named Jigger. He’s 14 years old, he’s deaf, he’s very very mellow, and he prefers to spend his time nosing around for food. He’s not territorial or bad-tempered, and is in fact one of the happiest, “jiggiest” dogs you’ll ever meet.

He grew up socialized around other dogs and has never picked a fight with another mammal, excepting the raccoons that live in the back garden of the house we used to own in Victoria British Columbia. He’s never been in a fight with another dog, not even a cat (once, in Rockport Massachusetts, a shop cat swiped him across the nose, but he just wanted to run away, not fight).

But in Portland in the past few months, I have met more neurotic, unsocialized dogs than I can count. It’s the norm for owners here to forbid their dogs from interacting with other dogs on the sidewalks or even in the parks. The one exception to this is that some dog owners take their pets to the “off leash” areas in parks, but even those areas are not frequented much. Eight times out of ten, when you pass one, it’s empty. Of course that might be on account of all the shitty weather you get in Portland.

Anyway, we finally got some warmth and sun in the last few days. Jigger is older and less likely to want long walks anyway, so this afternoon the spouse and I just went around the block with him and then sat at the shady chairs and table set out by Pix Patisserie across the street to have some coffee, and to let Jigger enjoy some more “outdoor” time without forcing him to walk in the afternoon heat.

I’ve mentioned before (on Facebook) that I think Portlanders don’t know how to keep dogs or socialize them properly (our neighbors seem to think their Fox Terrier is a cat that can be left alone at home for hours upon hours on end, for example), but this afternoon’s experience took the prize.

I’m still shaking.

We’re sitting at a table, Jigger is resting under my chair. He has his back turned to the rest of the sidewalk. He’s deaf, and therefore is oblivious to approaching noises. An older woman who looked, frankly, like a demented bat out of hell, approaches with four (4!!!) Scottish Terriers – one of which is wearing a muzzle. That should have been our warning, I suppose.

As they approach, her dogs see Jigger (who hasn’t seen them, nor heard them), and before I know what’s happening, one of them has set upon him and is biting the hell out of him, dragging him into the middle of the Scotty pack. Then the others have at him. I jumped up and started pulling dogs off my dog, but the stupid asshole of a dog owner just fucking stood there instead of moving on! They were biting his side, his ears, anything they could get a hold of. Every time I got one dog off, another would lunge. The spouse got into the act, and I managed to pick my dog up. Another Scotty got a hold of his tail and bit it, literally hanging on my dog’s tail with his teeth, and I nearly dropped my dog – who was by now in a total panic. I’ve never seen him so panicked.

I picked my dog up again, my husband is trying to pull these shitty, vicious creatures away, and the emotionally retarded excuse of a dog owner is just fucking standing there, mouth open, instead of helping to pull her dogs away and fucking move on! I was wishing for an extra pair of legs with which to kick her dogs at this point.

Then the waiter from Pix comes running out and for some reason assumes that the dog I’m holding and cradling, the dog I’m trying to pull away from his attackers, is attacking me! What an idiot. It must be the typically endless rain that softens their brains. So he’s pulling Jigger off me and nearly strangling him in the process (Jigger was of course on the leash, which by now is wrapped 15 times around me and god knows what else – the poor dog is choking by now).

Finally the asshole woman has moved away a few paces and I grab my dog again, trying to calm him (he is freaking out and crying), and I ream her out. She then actually tried to accuse us of being responsible for not telling her that we had a dog with us (can you believe this???), and I remind her with as many expletives as I can that my dog was resting under my chair, minding his own business, and that she’s parading down a fucking PUBLIC sidewalk with a team of neurotic, vicious, ill-socialized terriers.

Meanwhile, my chin is bleeding from where Jigger’s claw strafed it in his struggles, and my legs are cut up from the other dogs (I was wearing a skirt since it was warm).

Like I said, I have never met so many badly socialized dogs as in Portland, and it is due, every single time, to the owners not having a fucking clue. These people should not be allowed to have dogs – they clearly do not understand dog psychology nor understand that dogs need to be socialized with other dogs.

For example, one afternoon, at Jamieson Park in the Pearl, a guy apologized because his dog came up to mine and was friendly, wagging his tail, wanting to play. He said, “Oh, I’m sorry, he hasn’t learned yet not to go up to other dogs.” And I thought, “right, you nutcase – you’re going to socialize your dog right out of being friendly with other dogs, aren’t you, you moron?” I mean, he actually apologized for the fact that his dog did something totally friendly and natural. In a park. On a stroll. On a Sunday afternoon.

No shit, Sherlock, you’re gonna make a great dog daddy. Not.

This afternoon’s incident is just the icing on the cake. Four dogs attacking my dog (at least one of them was muzzled), and the asshole of an owner just standing there, dumbfounded. I don’t want to live in a neurotic, anti-social town like this.

I would say Portland is for the dogs, but that would be an insult to dogs.

Jigger last year, at Gonzales Hill in Victoria BC



  1. Oh God… sounds like recto-cranial inversion is of epidemic proportions in Portland.

    Comment by maria — April 23, 2012 #

  2. Yeah, I don’t know what it is. Definitely a clash of dog culture or dog culture shock for us. But as I said on my FB thread, I think quite a few people here could use some “Redirecting Your Child’s Behavior” workshops, too. I’ve seen too many extremes, with kids having no boundaries in some instances, while in others the parents are non-stop riding their kids with incessant “NO!!” or “Get away from there!” or “I’m going to count to three…!” or “How many times do I have to tell you?” and on and on. Yet in not a single instance of that sort of (bound-to-fail) authoritarian parenting, did I see the parent ever try to redirect the child’s behavior to something that might actually interest the child – a book, a story, something to play with, …nothing. The parents tried to exert constant attempts at control, without providing a pathway for how the child’s behavior should be (aside from sitting and doing nothing, like the adults).

    Comment by Yule — April 25, 2012 #

  3. What a demented mind-set.

    Is Jigger OK? How terrified he must have been, and you too. So glad you gave the other owner a reaming out – you are brilliant at that. Can you report it? Or is Portland such a prick anti-dog place.

    I’m so very sorry this happened to your sweet boy.

    Comment by Jane — April 25, 2012 #

  4. Thanks, Jane! Jigger seems almost back to normal, although his ear is still sore (I didn’t notice until the next day that they had managed to rip it). As I probably made clear in my rant, I have never experienced anything like this – not an attack by a bunch (4!) dogs, nor such a clueless owner, nor the follow-up fiasco of the waiter from Pix Patisserie, rushing out after a couple of minutes to “liberate” me from my own dog, choking him in the process. The whole thing was totally, completely bizarre and if I never experience anything like it again, it won’t be too soon.
    As for reporting it: call me s ahirker of responsibility, but at this point and after so many weird (albeit minor) experiences here with dogs (dog owners), I don’t care anymore and I’m just looking forward to our little road trip, which starts on Sunday. 😉
    How’s Rolo? I think of you all enjoying Dallas Road off-leash – such a great dog culture there!

    Comment by Yule — April 25, 2012 #

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