Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

About letting your dog run loose…my story March 29, 2019



HE DEFENDED ME with dogwood against the dogs.


A scene shot along one of the trails in the Faribault Energy Park toward the energy facility. Trails wrap around multiple ponds where three men fished for crappies Wednesday evening. An otter glided in the same pond, keeping his distance from the fishermen.


It seems fitting that dogwood would provide protection from two dogs running free at Faribault Energy Park around sunset on Wednesday. A quick Google search reveals the name of the reddish-tinted bush rooted in the Middle English words dagge/dagger. The thin sticks were once used as daggers or skewers.


After the incident with the dogs, I photographed these geese.


With that language lesson for the day, I return to the story of a walk on a lovely late March evening that left me upset and frustrated with an irresponsible dog owner.

Here’s the deal. If you have dogs and choose to take them to a public place, then leash them per city ordinance and common sense. Otherwise go to the local dog park and let your dogs run free. Or stay on your property and watch your dogs run.

A dog not under the control of its owner concerns me. I don’t care how supposedly friendly and well-behaved the dog. Any canine in a strange place, among strangers has the potential to do harm.

I feel fortunate that I escaped with only muddied jeans after a large curly-haired black-and-brown dog bounded toward and then jumped onto me, slicking mud down my pant legs. That was enough to kick in the fear factor, especially when a second dog joined the first dog.

By that time I was in semi-panic mode, unsure what these dogs might do to me. Randy picked up on my fear and stepped in with a bundle of dogwood. He thrust it between me and the dogs, held it as a shield as the pair continued to circle.


The Faribault Energy Park wind turbine. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


We don’t typically carry around dogwood. But minutes earlier I picked up dogwood twigs broken off at the base of a bush. I’ve always wanted dogwood for outdoor flower pots and these would rot if left to the elements. Soon thereafter we encountered the dogs on the gravel road by the wind turbine.

Not only was I afraid, but I was angry. About my muddied jeans and that inconsiderate canine owner. I scanned the park grounds for the absent owner. And I yelled multiple times for that delinquent owner to retrieve his/her dogs. My voice was lost in the drone of heavy traffic from nearby Interstate 35. Randy and I kept moving, hopeful the dogs would leave us alone. Eventually they did and soon the owner rounded the gravel road in a green van, stopped, opened the side door and the dogs leapt inside.

Part of me wanted to turn around, walk to the van and lecture the dog owner. But I recognized that I was still too upset and, in today’s world, you never know how someone may react.

End of story except to say this incident ruined an otherwise lovely walk in the park.


© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I don’t know dog breeds well enough to identify the dogs referenced in this story. But it doesn’t matter. Dogs should not run loose in a public place.


27 Responses to “About letting your dog run loose…my story”

  1. Ruth Says:

    You are so right, Audrey. I’m glad it was no worse but the potential of harm is so scary. Glad your knight had dogwood in hand. Yikes!

  2. I’m so thankful Randy was able to keep them away. Dog owners frustrate me–and I’m a dog owner. We have a bullmastiff. She’s large and intimidating, but honestly wouldn’t hurt a flea. We’ve all been to obedience school because owners need it more than the dog and we wanted her trained as a therapy dog.
    She is extremely well behaved and responsive to commands. However, we never, ever, ever leave her off leash unless she is alone in a dog park or we are on family property. Yes, we can control HER, but we cannot control how she may react in a situation with another dog or person where she feels threatened or protective. I can’t count the number of times we have encountered unleashed smaller dogs who come at her in an aggressive fashion when we walk her. EVERY dog owner should be responsible and keep their dog leashed–I don’t care if it’s a teacup size. It prevents all of the bad scenarios which could happen, and your situation is an example. I’m so happy you were able to prevent the dogs from being aggressive and you did not get bitten. You still got lovely photographs!

    • Thank you for your input as a dog owner and for being a responsible dog owner. I wish everyone followed your example.

      I’m glad you pointed out that all dogs, even those of teacup size, should be leashed. Those small dogs can attack and bite also.

      I would have taken even more photos had this incident not happened.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Every day, I walk Scooter for about two hours out on country roads. When I do so, I always carry a leash. Scooter gets his time off-leash but whenever we pass by a neighbors house or we encounter a walker or a horse rider, or there is equipment in the fields, the leash goes on.

    My city friends carry plastic bags to scoop poop. It is one thing we do not do. Hey, this is the country…besides the fields around here are fertilized with several million gallons of pig poop. What’s a little more?

    • It’s interesting that you should point out the poop aspect. Randy mentioned that perhaps the owner of these two dogs chose the Energy Park to avoid picking up the poop. Given the size of the park and the few people there, who would see? Anyway, I really really really dislike stepping into dog poop, especially in my yard. Yup, even in Faribault not all dog owners pick up after their dogs. But many do.

      Thank you for being responsible and respectful of others when you and Scooter are walking the Almost Iowa countryside.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    I’ve noticed all dog owners think their dogs are friendly, but not all dog owners are friendly or responsible. They forget some people who are afraid of dogs, friendly or not.
    We have a sidewalk on our property and we often pick up dog droppings…but considering how many dogs walk by it’s not too bad.
    That said, I do like dogs and I really enjoy being able to dog-sit our grand-dog occassionally.

    • I agree that dog owners think their dogs are friendly. But I never fully trust a dog, no matter what the owner thinks. I certainly don’t dislike dogs. I just want them leashed and for dog owners to be responsible.

  5. Frightening, indeed! Glad you’re ok.

  6. Philip Holum Says:

    I love dogs, but I think many dog owners confuse love with a total lack of guidelines. I would never take my dogs to another person’s house, to a public event, or a place that is out of their comfort zone. Dogs need their home. They need the quiet and restfulness of a home where they know they are loved. They actually become confused and show behaviors like you experienced when they have no guidance. I don’t really even like the idea of dog parks, where parvo can be picked up or a violent dog can go wild. I think we maybe are seeing a connection between the raising of kids without any parameters and this phenomenon with some dog owners. Poor dogs. I feel sorry for their life. It will probably be a short one without a leash in public. Phil/Eagle Bend.

    • Phil from Eagle Bend, thank you for adding your insights to the discussion. I appreciate that you are a respectful and responsible dog owner. I’m not fond of dogs at public events either, especially crowded ones like a parade or a fair. Even if they are leashed. You’ve made some good points and observations here.

  7. I’m with you 100% Audrey, Not everyone loves dogs…friendly or not, and you shouldn’t have had to be put through that incident on your walk. Dogs don’t always know how to behave when they meet someone on a walk, it’s ultimately up to their owner to keep them on a leash. I’m glad Randy came to your rescue…I knew he would 🙂

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    I have little house dogs, and even in our home, we do not allow jumping and out-of-control mobbing of our company. As for outdoor roamers that happen on our property, (which is perimeter fencing on ten acres) I am quick to send them packing out the front gate. I sometimes call animal control if I know is it someone’s pet from in town. There is city code about animals running loose here – and if owners aren’t responsible, then there are consequences. The neighbors to our west shoot dogs. We’ve had to do that as well with large dogs who frequent the place and jump the inner fence to the chicken yard or who cause problems with the animal rehabilitation work we do. I’m glad Randy was there to assist you and I’m glad the situation didn’t escalate.

    • Thank you for being a responsible dog owner. I’m sorry you have had to deal with trespassing dogs. I remember you posting about that.

      Yes, I’m thankful the situation did not worsen for me and that Randy was there.

  9. How horrible! I have had other people’s dogs attack me too. Yes, if they jump on people it is an attack no matter if it is a “friendly” dog. No control of a pet is no excuse to infringe on other people rights in a public place. You are a better person than I. I would have called the cops, approached the man, gotten a license plate. Not acceptable! Period!

    • I felt angry enough to take some of those actions you list, the exception being approaching the dog owner. But, since no limb was ripped from my body, no bite inflicted, I chose not to report to the police. Rather I am reporting here in the hopes that my insights will cause dog owners to pause and think. If I felt threatened by that dog, which I did, then the dog’s actions were, as you note, an attack.

      • Audrey- I am always so happy to see you bringing up issues in your community in such a responsible and insightful way. I hope this encourages your readers to pass along to others the proper way to handle these situations. Sad that you felt that approaching the owner could have led to almost anything but a responsible solution. I know I am nervous of approaching anyone here in the states anymore due to you never know if someone will pull a gun on you. I have seen way too many incidents in my lifetime that have gone from simple to tragic due to irresponsible behavior.

      • Thank you.

        It is that very reason why did not approach the dog owner. Someone irresponsible enough to allow his dogs to run loose like this in total disregard of others is not an individual I would feel comfortable approaching.

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I’m thankful you weren’t injured. I’m not a fan of strange dogs either.

  11. Norma Says:

    We have moved to a senior complex that allows us to have our small animals with us. I take “Allie” for 2 or 3 walks daily, and when we come upon another dog, or other people , I pull her leash closer to me. I don’t allow her to “play’ or contact the other animals, and I always pick up her poop. I only wish everyone else would do the same .

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