Today is Armistice Day. Share about a Veteran.
Dépaysement - one of Jean-Marc's favorite French words!

La Prise de bec - unexpected run-in with a stranger while walking my dog

Ever since I dislocated my elbow while walking my dog, outings with my golden retriever have changed. I am more aware of the dangers around every corner. Giant barking dogs can leap out of nowhere, causing a dog on a leash to react in self defense, and even tiny chiens can wreak havoc. For walks to go smoothly, you have to know your dog, be alert, and have a back-up plan--my own is to quickly change sidewalks or change direction, but this reflex did not work for us recently.  

Saturday's drame was similar to the one that landed me in ER, only this time there was a better ending (if not a happy one). Things had gotten off to a good start, last weekend, when I swallowed past fears and took control of the leash. If we let a bad experience get the best of us, our world becomes smaller and smaller--and so does that of our loved ones! 

Smokey and I headed out into the sunny horizon, one of us mumbling a mantra of positives--the other naturally oblivious to life's What ifs?

Keeping my dog reined in close to my side, we smiled (did you know goldens smile?) at the customers seated in the cafés along the seafront. A waiter seemed to recognize us from the neighborhood, which elevated our spirits even higher.

As the pavement ended, we proceeded onto the dirt-paved area that opens out before the sea. That's when Smokey stalled....

I recognized this behavior. It signaled he was about to bolt. Looking up, I saw the object of his interest: a glossy long-haired retriever that looked very similar to Smokey, only a bit smaller. As I quickly turned to redirect Smokey, the two men walking the dog smiled brightly. I recognized that sourire, it said, Aw, c'est mignon! Our dogs are interested in each other. Let's introduce them....

I smiled back in a thanks but this is not a good idea way -- but it was too late. Smokey began dragging me forward over the slippery ground. I was quickly losing my balance and made the decision to drop the leash (something I would not--and could not!--do the last time, and ended up in that ambulance)....

My golden retriever charged toward the smaller dog and the two were soon caught up in a tangle of barking.  Everything happened so fast and I heard myself shouting, Ne vous inquiètez pas. Il ne va pas attaquer! Don't worry, he won't attack!

That is when one of the men yanked my dog away from his dog and tossed Smokey toward me. With that, he shouted, Il ne va pas attaquer??!! IL NE VA PAS ATTAQUER???

I grabbed Smokey and my adrenaline held him in place. The two men walked off spouting anger our way. 

My mind was reeling. They don't know my dog! They don't know he is a survivor! Attacked by two dogs as a puppy he was not expected to live. LIVE HE DID! Smokey went on to live 9 lives and after another cancer diagnosis, this past summer, I was told he was lucky to be alive, but not to count on a much longer life.... 

I realize none of this matters to the men whose dog has just been threatened by my dog. I just wished to explain to them that while Smokey may bark up a storm -- he'll soon scramble to hide behind the very dust he's kicked up!

This time the two of us sat there in the dust. Dazed, I finally got up off the ground, swallowed the lump in my throat and walked home with my tears and my dog, who was back on his leash. Smokey and I had made so much progress since we moved from the country to the city, where he--where both of us--would have to adjust to les citoyens. As upset as I was over this unexpected pris de bec, or run-in, I could still put myself in the other dog owner's shoes, and I knew I would have reacted the same way, too.  What saddened me was the misunderstanding that remained. 

Today Smokey and I could both use a walk. Instead we are holed up inside, our worlds having rétréci, or grown just a little bit smaller.  We will figure out a way forward, meantime there's a lump in our way (or in my throat). I leave you with a recent picture/video of Smokey R. Dokey. I hope you can see it below (tap the the middle of the picture, until you see an arrow, to make Smokey's tail wag!).

The regular edition of French Word-A-Day will be back next week. See you then.



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Dave Navarre

Our little Cavalier, Hudson, is the same way, but he's only twenty pounds of love, so can't pull my 200 pounds very far...

I hope your day and walks get better. Hopefully, les citoyens get to know your big bundle of puppy love soon!

Give Smokey a kiss for us.


Kristi, grab that leash and go walk! You cannot let the world grow smaller and you can do it. If he starts to bolt just sit down and hold can always let go if you have to.......the last time I walked a golden I just had to let go but no harm came to me or the dog.....


In the US, there are yellow bandanas and dog vests that indicate to other dog owners that your dog needs space. Perhaps finding something that signals 'do not engage' would help with Smokey. Likewise, there are special halters that greatly assist the owner in restraining a dog that pulls and lunges. Do some online searching for dogs aides. It will make your walks much more enjoyable and safer for all.

Sending you both a bisou for your bruised egos - why not have a tiny little meander round the block, if you're not up to a proper walk...just to keep your hand (and Smokey's paw!) in? Brush yourself off, dust yourself down and start all over again. Put Smokey's smile back in place!
Bon courage,

Rob T.

Life is full of those type of things. You did nothing wrong and did the best you could to control Smokey. He did no harm. Don't let it paralyze you. Get back on the horse and ride again.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Oh, I'm sorry about your run in! I had a Labrador Retriever named Buster and he would bark and rush at other dogs but would never do anything! He just wanted to say hello to the other dogs! It is disconcerting to others who don't know your dog though. It's hard to know also if the other person might have been attacked by a dog before and is not so trusting now. My dog was also about 110 lbs and very strong. I had a collar called a Gentle Leader which people also misunderstood. It gave the impression of a muzzle but did not cover the mouth but went over the bridge of the dogs nose. It helped so much with control on walks but others would look at us and think I had a vicious dog! The head halter worked like a charm for pulling and kept my arms from getting pulled! Just google Gentle Leader head collar!


How about going out, sans Smoky, around the same time of day that the event occurred. With any luck you might come across the other dog owners and have a chance to explain. I'm sure they would understand if you had a chance to explain. In the meantime is there any kind of harness that you could use with Smoky to give you a bit more control?
Best wishes,


Dear Kristi:

This post created a lump in my throat, too, and eyes brimming with tears of hurt and love. I feel I know dear Smokey personally, though never having met, as we have read of all his (and your) life's travails and triumphs through the years. I am so sad for both of you, but know that the two of you will soon bounce back and triumph in the end, just as you always have done.

Much Love,

Susan Thomas

So sorry. Took my 10 month old German Shepherd for a walk two days ago and ended up falling on my nose (literally) after losing my balance when he pulled just the wrong way. Ended up with just a scraped nose and sore knee. Glad it’s not worse. I feel for your fear and hope eventually you’ll try again.


I think a good therapy might be to get out of the house today by yourself , walk to one of those charming cafes and have something good to eat! And tomorrow take Smokey out for a little walk...It will be fine!!!

Faye LaFleur

Love that photo of that sweetheart wagging his tail and blinking his eyes! Dogs do what comes naturally...sounds like these men have a lot to learn about dogs!


Hi Kristin,

Your accounts of Smokey have certainly fostered my affection for both of you. I'm so sorry for your dual mishaps, but can't help wondering why Smokey was - apparently - never taught to heel or stop on command.

Kathryn Weber

Kristie try this:

We purchased it after similar incident happened to our daughter when waking our golden. Now our walks are 100 percent wonderful and our dog is so much happier too!!!


I understand both angles of this story. An unknown dog running towards you poses a threat. And a strong dog poses a threat to the dog walker. My dog is strong too. When I can't cross the street or get out of the way of approaching dogs, I move to the side and hold her firmly. My balance is better if I'm not moving and this strategy has worked well for me. Please don't over think what happen to you. I bet the two men have already forgot about it. When you're a dog owner these things happen.


I hate that when it happens. So sad but as others have said go out for a walk enjoy a cafe and the sea. It will clear your mind. You may need to take shorter walks for a while getting him use to New environment and so others in neighborhood get to know you. Sometimes I tell people with big dogs that my dog is very protective and they move away even though he is only 13pounds and not barking.

Lois Colburn

I feel for your story. We moved from Omaha to Lyon this fall along with our then almost year old chihuahua-daschund mix, Tippy. In Omaha she had a few friends with whom she could run around in a yard and there was the day camp at Pet Smart. She goes on multiple daily walks with me and sadly is reactive to other dogs, Basically I think she’d just like to play but her nasty owner keeps her on the leash. Hopefully in a few months, she’ll be less barky around other animals. On a positive note, she makes little children and many adults smile when she walks up begging for a pet! Keep walking Smokey and think “damn the torpedoes....”

Lis Steeden

Hi Kristin...

Have you ever thought of buying a Halti for Smokey? We swear by this, especially as our dog is young and very strong and just over 50kgs...and it hurt our arms and shoulders...when we are going to the markets or meeting up with people...the difference is...our Max, also a Golden Retruever, as you know, so if we did not use the Halti, we would be taken for a walk...however, now we take him for a walk...but trust me, the minute we remove it, he is a different dog, no longer calmly walking by our side...he’s off...we were recommended this by friends in OZ who train dogs, and we can highly recoomen will not hurt him, he. An drink and East with the Halti’s not a muzzle...but the minute he pulls, it will be a bit uncomfortable for him, and he will stop + you are in can get it on Amazon here in France...good luck...🙂


It is unnerving to have a strange dog bounding up to you, possibly jumping up or knocking you over. I know that in this case the other owner encouraged your dog, but if a dog has not been trained and is going to run off, then, for everyone's safety, it should be on a lead.
Recently you asked for corrections: well, in English, 'reigned' means 'ruled over', as a monarch does. The word you want is 'reined'.


Love the tail wag! I totally understand. We have a large German Shepherd, Larry, who is actually a pussy cat and just wants to play with other dogs. Unfortunately many people believe they are all vicious and his barking at them doesn’t help. After almost ripping my arm out its socket several times trying to get to other dogs and scaring people in the process I got a halter which prevents him from pulling. Now I’m in control and can engage with other dog owners to see if they want the dogs to meet before we end up in a tangle. There are many different types (I like the ones that you adjust once and then it just takes one snap to get it on him) and he is so used to it now that he waits by the door for me to get to on. Good luck!


I want to cry. This is not the story I was prepared to read. Dogs, children and elderly; three groups for whom we should always extend kindness and patience regardless of the circumstances. Sending hugs to you and Smokey from US...because small acts of goodness are so much more powerful that big acts of cruelty. Marcher maintenant! Hold your heads high! Woof woof...

D Frost

My late Snowy, who literally seemed to drop out of the sky after being abandoned and/or abused, had issues too, so I can empathize. But you both need walks! Maybe your husband should share them with you?


Look at that sweet boy! I have a special place in my heart for Goldens. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve had something similar happen with my goldendoodle Penny, and I was wrecked over it for awhile. It’s hard not to keep going over the incident in your head. I like the suggestions that many of the other readers are making. I hope it all helps and that you have really nice walks with your sweet Smokey this week.


Hi Kristi and Eileen,

I second the recommendation of a Gentle Leader! My 80 pound German Shepherd, Andre, is an enthusiastic barker who terrifies most people, although he is a gentle boy. The leader uses their weight against them if they try to pull. Remember too to takes some deep breaths and try to stay calm. Smokey can feel your anxiety. :)

Kent Benson

First paragraph, "even tiny chiens can cause wreak havoc." I think you need one less verb there.

Kris in Brittany

Agree, a gentle leader is a good idea. They tend to fight against them at first but persevere and he will stop pulling. My friends dog is obedience trained and qualified to enter Crufts Dog Show, but on a walk he pulls like a steam roller and the Gentle leader head collar stops him every time. Don't give up walking him you both need it, just change how you do it.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

A harness vs a collar helps. I pet sit, so frequently walk dogs* and I find it distressing when people just assume you want the dog you're walking to meet theirs (and, in this case, get offended when the situation doesn't work out). A visit or two from a professional trainer may help, too, and might bring you some peace. Think about all the dogs walking on leashes on the sidewalks of NY without incident. I also like to walk at hours when other dogs may be in. It seems certain morning and evening hours bring out more walkers. I love walking at sunrise! (*Yes, a new tagline someone gave me. I've been a dog walker and worked on Wall Street. The stuff movies are made of, except the characters are usually former investment bankers or corporate counsel who can now afford to downsize their job. I'm just a woman of a certain age who can no longer find well paid meaningful work after a large employment gap doing the right thing to care for her mom at home, even being very willing to relocate. Sigh.)

Le Allí

Totally understand your hesitancy. May recommend you bring a walking partner with you for a week or so.

Suzanne Dunaway

Kristin, there is no tail-wagging video on this blog that I can see. So sorry for your Smokey experience, but French dogs are so incredibly well-trained and rarely run at other dogs, etc. Those guys were probably surprised at Smokey's run and it scared the other doggy. Would love to have seen the video but the photo on the blog is not the one you meant, no?

Alanna Strong

Your other readers have encouraged you to use a “gentle leader”. I can assure you it WORKS like a dream! I could not walk my dog before, and now it takes just two fingers to control her. It changed our lives. She does not particularly care for the gentle leader as it tickles her nose but she would rather that than stay home.
Good luck.


Hi, Kristine. I have a suggestion for you that my dog-trainer brother in law told me and it works. It’s hard to explain but easy to do.
1-hook the lead at the dog’s neck collar as usual
2-take the lead to the back and run it under the belly of the dog and up the other side
3-then take it over the back and under the lead on the other side, so that you are controlling the dog from the back.
I’ll post an image on Instagram. It’s easy. I’m making a mess out of explaining it.
Find the photo at Leslieannmg on Instagram...just for you.

I have a 100 pound lab and a she is nuts about chasing squirrels and running up to other dogs. I have hand issues and this technique has kept us walking.

Get back out there! You are strong and have overcome far more difficult to control situations with grace. I am confident in you. It’s probably feel misunderstood and you want to fit in to your new environs. Make it happen...get back out there and enjoy a nice walk with M. Smokey.


Big dogs, no matter how friendly, seem to prvoke anxiety in some people and, in my experience, almost all dog owners are extremely defensive. “What, MY dog? Couldn’t be.... it’s your dog that is the aggressor...” They perceive joy and exuberance as aggression and don’t realize that their dog’s reaction contributes to the outcome of the encounter. I had a much beloved yellow lab who was impossble on a leash. He loved his walks, as did I and we made many friends, but not among fellow dog walkers. My solution was a pinch collar. It didn’t stop him, but it gave me time to plant my body firmly on the pavement to avoid being inelegantly dragged along same and to control him. Good luck!


As you can see, you are not alone!
My technique with my very strong German Shepard was to bring her to the side & tell her to sit before the situation got out of hand. I found it easier to control her in a sitting position than with her four strong legs on the ground. It took some practice (I would randomly sit her & wait even when no distractions were around). But, she grew accustomed to our new city neighbourhood.


But this isn't about what happened with Smokey, is it,'s about not feeling at home in this new place yet, disconnected from who and what you loved, not feeling recognized and not recognizing....perhaps it feels different and not in a good way, yet. Change is so difficult and can hurt. Hang in there sweet Kristen. Beauty and love and friendship and connection will soon find you there, too. xx


As is often the case, the animals behave better than the humans

Chris Allin

.Dear Kristi,
Perhaps Smokey and the glossy haired retriever might have just bounced around each other, barking in conversation, had they been given the chance. Most disturbing and unsettling to me was the angry and aggressive behavior of the men. That would be hard to shake. It will probably take some time but you have some great ideas from your readers to deal with the whole situation.I am just glad there is no physical injury to you or Smokey!

Lauren Golden

Hm-m I didn't get the photo/video of Smokey. It was just a table!
I have a cat but I can certainly understand the difficulty and frustration of your prise de bec.


"Courage, mon ours" as I always say to little grandson when he is overwhelmed. This was a horrible and shocking experience for you both, but Smokey is dependent on you for some kind of solution. From what I've read, here and elsewhere, the American yellow jackets are a Good Idea. Your readers here have plenty of other good advice and maybe you just need to "pick and mix" to find what might work for you - and try one small step at a time. You're in shock now and I wish it hadn't happened to you both. But you both need to get out and about again as soon as you can. You are such a brave and resourceful person, and Smokey is a hero too. Don't let these strangers and their dog change your lives for the worse. That would be too sad.


The best and most practical answer! Thank you! Even a prong collar would teach Smokey pretty quickly not to bolt away!
Personal safety, and safety for Smokey should be the priority, not sentiment.

Anne Maitland

Dear Kristi,
So sorry this happened to the 2 of you. You both need to get back out there.
Here's something worth looking at from Whole Dog Journal. BEST OF LUCK (btw Phyllis Adatto is a mutual friend)
Balance Harness
We like this well-designed, well-made harness a lot. Made by Blue-9 Pet Products, it offers two nice, large rings as attachment points, one in the front and one on the back, and adjusts in six places – more than any of the other products we reviewed. Every single strap that connects one piece of hardware to another adjusts individually: the left and right sides of the neck, the left and right sides of the chest, as well as the straps that connect the “collar” of the harness to the “girth” (one on the back of the dog’s neck and one that goes between his front legs); this enables an owner to get the fit just right.
To put it on the dog, you put the “collar” section over the dog’s head, pass the lower straps through the dog’s front legs, and snap them on both sides to the top strap (which is easy to identify and position, given its contrasting color). It’s super easy.
PROS: Good-quality materials, simple design. Very minimal sideways shifting of chest ring when leash pressure is applied. Girth strap can be adjusted far enough back to be well clear of armpits to avoid chafing.
CONS: Seriously, we were hard-pressed to find anything to criticize one this harness; none.

Barbara Johnson

I had a German Shepherd who was a love. She would bark and lunge at other dogs, scaring their owners with her German Shepherd teeth. All she wanted was to get close and play and she was just yelling to them from across the street...lots of scared owners along the way.
On a practical note, I am not a large person and a big dog was a challenge to hang on to. (I dropped the leash a few times to save myself) I used a “pinch collar.” It sounds and looks bad but the prongs just get the dog’s attention and do not hurt...I know because I tried it on my leg, yanking hard.. it isn’t a choke collar, just an attention getter as I said.. check them out on line. Keep on walking and give that pup a kiss.


I have two young, exuberant Hungarian vizslas and permanent problems with my arms and shoulders and for several years tried every trick in the book - pinch collar, chest harness, you name it until I FINALLY discovered a method that allows us all to enjoy our walkies.

In order to walk my dogs happily and safely, I use a small switch - just a little branch from a shrub, from which I strip the leaves. I twitch the switch back and forth like a windshield wiper in front of their noses when we start our walk in tandem to remind them to walk at heel and tap them gently on the nose or 'turn on the windshield wiper' when my 'girls' get out of line or pull on their leads. No violence, no aggression, just clear guidance that they MUST walk at heel. It may or may not work with Smokey...bonne chance a trouver un moyen efficace pour vous y en aura!


I think it might help to yell “NON!” in a loud voice until you can explain to the strangers what is going on with your dog. That would startle them out of their complacency in a quick, necessary way, and might give Smokey pause, too. It is scary when a dog rushes at you, and other readers have good suggestions for reining in Smokey, but the guys also need to learn not to assume anything about Smokey since they don’t know him. I once approached a dog and asked the owner if I could say hello. She said, “Unfortunately, he isn’t good with people” and that was that. There was a history there, not anyone’s fault, and it wasn’t at all obvious.

joie in Carmel

Go for the walks. Try different paths. Carry small treats in an open pocket. When you feel the tug on the leash or he gives that look or posture, say his name, reach into your pocket, distract him and give him a treat. You can practice this at home first....leash, gentle tug and name, treat. Practice until he gets it easily....then go do your walks. He won't associate it with another dog, just that the tug means a treat. Also, do you know of anyone who has a dog that would be willing to come practice with you? After, he has learned without the other dog around. Just approach each other on a leash. He will be fine and so will you. hugs to both of you.

joie in Carmel

The Halti lead also worked for me. I had the most loving, rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer who had more energy than 5 dogs together....really!! The Halti worked for walks as did the training with treats.


Our dear Kristi,
And!Sweet Smokey!
My adrenalin is pumping right along with yours.
Especially because it vividly reminds me of the time when,as puppies,we were walking Pear and Lissy at the beach park.A lady whose dog was dragging his leash(one of those plastic contraptions that release and pull back)came galloping towards Pear,who was petried.Lady --a gal in her 20's--was laughing as the plastic contraption hit Pear square in the head,knocking him down and out cold.We thought he was dead.
Lady found this immensely funny
and when I told her to pull her dog away,she looked at me and said"Oh granny,why don't you f--- off and die??!"
Needless to say,THIS is rude behavior.
Kristi,how you acted was exactly how you should have acted and spoken.
You are so right--you can't let situations like these make your world one filled with fear and smallness.
We never went back to that park.We found another place where people were more considerate and we felt safer.
You are so creative that there is no doubt you can do the same.
Another route,perhaps or a different location,even if you have to drive there(which is what we had to do).
God granted you extra time with
Smokey and He will bless and guide you now.
Natalia. Xo


No prong collars - EVER. Smokey was a country dog, never professionally trained, who now lives in the city with other people and dogs. He must be trained even though he is an old dog. Gentle Leaders, harnesses, more active and stronger control by his owners but never prong collars which are almost never used properly by owners who have not been professionally instructed. Truthfully, the owner's anxiety and fear is transmitted to the dog. Dog training is really owner training.

Julie Webb

I was recently “taken out” by a large dog and falling, broke my arm, in four places. I am currently attempting to recapture my courage by walking my 10 month old standard poodle around the block in the evening. It is tough to gather myself each evening because even on short walks, my exuberant four-legged child can become a challenge with just one arm mais je refuse to allow my broken arm to drive my fears and determine my choices. I have adopted your phrase “If we let a bad experience get the best of us, our world becomes smaller....”. Thank you for the inspiration and allons-y!

Diane Covington-Carter, Eight Months in Provence, A Junior Year Abroad 30 Years Late

Good luck and take care. All will be well soon. Hugs from rainy (thank goodness!) Northern California,

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Ann. Corrections are always helpful and appreciated.

And many thanks to all who have taken the time to send in tips, edits (I see Kent left another, farther down), and encouragements for walking Smokey again! I have just ordered the Gentle Leader, as recommended, and have high hopes! I will fill my pockets with treats and get on with training Smokey. Your notes have lifted my spirits and helped so much. Merci beaucoup for sharing your experiences and stories!

Richard from Arlington Texas

Walk our 65 lbs. Australian Cattle dog every night for 30 minutes past 6 years. She is voice trained on walks and will not leave her yard. She was once attacked by a a neighbor's dog, they paid $1,200.00 vet bill for their dog, and they paid the $200.00 for our puppy girl Elle. Like everyone's ideas for the harness; often people do not know their own dogs or turn a blind eye or are irresponsible; yes anticipate the best you can; carry pepper spray to separate the dogs as a last resort; a friend of mine lost a finger trying to separate two of her own dogs.
All dogs are loyal will protect their property and owners. My daughter's Corgi, however does not train and will not listen.
All the best to you and Mr. J-M.

Myrna Laracuente

Dear Kristin, I have a dog who HATES runners. In February, she pulled me down trying to get to a runner and I broke my pelvis. Now I use a leash with two handles, one up top and the other lower down on the leash. When she begins to pull toward a runner, I just grab the lower handle and am able to keep her under control. I got it on Amazon. Give it a try. Keep walking. Just be extra vigilant!


It is heartening that you have found, and decided to try, a new strategy with Smokey, one that other readers have found successful. Smokey is used to wide open spaces, he probably needs more outings now that you live in town. It is a big adjustment for an older dog, but he can learn, and he wants to get on. Is there a time of day when you could go, when there would be fewer dogs around? Could your husband, as busy as he is, assist by either accompanying you sometimes and helping with training, or taking Smokey for solo walks? Your local vet or dog groomer could have some ideas that would help for your particular location.
I wish you much success- walking in harmony with one's dog is one of life's great pleasures. En Marche!


Hi, please get a GENTLE LEADER and use it only when you go for walks ... it is worth it and your walks will be a pleasure for both of you ....


Good that you are ordering a Gentle Leader. I'd recommend a harness that prevents the dog from twisting but start with the Gentle Leader. However, the key to all dog behavior is the leader/owner. You must overcome your fear if you are going to control your dog. It is the key to all dog behavior -- ask any dog trainer. You can transmit fear and apprehension to your dog who will become nervous or you can transmit calm, authoritarian control. The dog wants a leader. The worst dog owners are the people that adopt/buy small lap dogs, never train them, and let them exhibit their worst Napoleon tendencies. Ive owned super strong, large, muscular dogs who are perceived as assertive/aggressive but they aren't if you convey to them they are dogs and you are the leader. It really is that simple but difficult if you have no practice leading in human life. Goldens have a reputation for being goofy loving dogs but they are also one of the most cited aggressive dogs. Your neighbors are justified in being wary.

Susan Scott

Hi Kristi,
Two years ago, I and my two Shih Tzus were attacked three different times by dogs in my neighborhood. I became so fearful, that It has taken two years for me to resume my walks with my dogs. I now walk them separately, every day, for at least 30 minutes each. I attribute this successful turnaround to Alecia Evans and her amazing Walk in Sync system, which includes what I call a “miracle” harness. Please visit the website, - it is transformative!
Best wishes,
Susan Scott
Boulder, CO

Kristin, I have been covered up since before your Corsicana sojourn and trying to downsize and my precious baby kitty,, Oliver has developeda heart murmur, kidney failure and anemia. Stress just nudged me over and moved right in. Due to the heart murmur, the most successful treatment of flooding the feline system with IV fluids to jolt the kidneys is not ideal and the Vet says that can further damage the heart already in its weakened state. Thought I would share my reason for silence even tho there you and beautiful, sweetest Smokey are temporarily sidelined with your own problems. Don’t you hate it when our pets are sick and we can’t fix it? Me, too. And I also try to seriously use the Serenity prayer to get through it and on people who act so rudly And thoughtless of others. Hope they regretted it! You are such a kind, gentle one that I can’t fathom anyone not rushing to help you up and patting Smokey in the process. I’ve never seen a Golden snarl, although I guess they can, but whether he did or didn’t , keep going girl. Bullies have a sick need to win but not at your expense, Madam. Nor Smokey’s ! Poor baby, laying on his bed, head down and that tail thumping. Made me sad for him, and you. Look forward to what you decided to do. And it will be what is best for the two of you. I love that dog. Love you, too, Kristi and what’s that silly song about the rubber tree plant and high hopes? Hope to run in to them again and they use that Sorry word. Take care my friend and be good to you and Smokey. XXX, jacquie


CORSICA! I just saw this. Must have had Corsicana, Texas fruitcakes on my mind.

Cynthia Lewis

Bonne chance, dear Kristi. You will find the right solution after reading all of the advice written in on the "comments page" by your thoughtful, caring readers. I send my best wishes, too, for you and Smokey to soon be out walking and exploring every day.

Alice Dent

Quels mecs impolis! Ils étaient très mal élevé!
I’ve had 3 male labs and have been pulled down a few times. I’m too old for that nonsense so I bought a metal chain choker. This only hurts if the dog persists in yanking you with him. They learn quickly. I was against I‎t at first because people told me it was cruel. That was until I heard about a woman in my city walking her dog and while she was waiting to cross the street was pulled right in front of a car by her dog and was killed. It’s not worth it. These are smart dogs who don’t want to be choked and they’ll quickly stop pulling against you. As for those two guys what jerks! I always grab my dog by the chain collar and say I can’t handle him he’s too strong and let them pass by or cross the road. Bonne chance

Mary and Rod Neely

There are no dogs sweeter than Golden’s. Hope you both have a chance to make up with those other dog walkers. I love all the comments from people who love you and your family as much as Rod and I do.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Kristi, Smokey is so attuned to you that he is likely picking up your new jitters and then responsively attempting to protect you both, given his history. Cesar Millan is The Dog Whisperer who works wonders with every kind of dismaying dog behaviour. I highly recommend looking at a few of his youtube clips of seemingly miraculous fixes with really very simple, insightful tweaks to how we walk our companion canine.


Sending a big hug to you and Smokey, Kristi! Please know that you took a big step forward when you ventured out today, and I hope that you will continue to regain your courage every day. Small steps are often the best idea.

Phyllis Sigmond

Please hire a dog obedience trainer for your dog. Make him behave INSIDE your home. Training, training, training. Then he will behave OUTSIDE your home. You won't have to rely on all the dog paraphernalia for his obedience. Then take him to a dog park for freedom and socialization. Separate walking behavior from dog park behavior. You will both be happy with this solution.


Our standard poodle has the gentle leader when on walks. It doesn’t totally prevent her from pulling if she sees other dogs, squirrels or leaves blowing on the sidewalk, but it helps. I always worry about her pulling me and losing my balance. Last summer we were on a nice walk when a gigantic no leash Great Dane came running towards us. I did what one of the other commenters did...sat down and tried to be calm so my dog would be calm. The dog was so large that my dog cowered. Eventually a lady across the street stood on her porch and yelled for the dog to come home. It bounded across the street. I agree going on a walk without Smokey in the area of the incident is a good idea. You might be able to explain Smokey’s exuberance to the gentlemen, plus it will ease your worries about taking Smokey back to that area later.


Chère Kristi - je suis désolée pour ce prise de bec! Je n'ai pas d'avis, mais je sens aussi la boule dans la gorge. Je suis avec toi dans l'ésprit ♥ ♥


I also have a 75 lb German shepherd who likes to pull when other dogs around. The gentle leader is wonderful at controlling her. You really should consider it!

Gail L from AZ

☹️☹️☹️☹️ I can relate to your sad feelings and wanting to stay home for shelter. Please make yourself get out there again despite the struggle. A new friend may be just around the corner!

Syngin Cunningham

Kristi do not let your world get smaller! I own 3 rottweillers and my biggest "puppy" wieghs in at 200lbs. He is a big baby but of course is excited and happy out on any excursion. My husband use to work with local law enforcement and I have trained several dogs as search and rescue animals. When ever we go out of the yard our dogs wear a control collar. It doesn't hurt them in any way but it does pinch and the harder they pull the more it becomes uncomfortable. It takes when good jerk for them to decide it is better to stay beside me. The collar comes off and hangs by our front door but the moment I ask zyzyxx if he wants to go to work he is trying to bring it to me. I know that ordering from the US is very expensive but i'm sure you could find one somewhere in France. I am including a link so that you can see one for yourself. I wish you and smokey many more long and happy adventures in the future .

pamela singer

Kristi after living and rearing my own children in the South of France and also being ubdefinabley attractive like you.. in the spiritual sense not in the Vogue magazine type..we unexpectedly attracted all sorts of male behavior in France as MALE idenyity has been so shut down for too many decades..Women like you or me are a target..I once wrote to you about your skin issue and how I felt the equipe you had around you ....did not see you ... only this visually lovely butterfly of a mother...treading water like myself ina world we were not yet seen because of compassion and couriosity we bloomed .. I was always so sorry we didn't meet 7 years ago... but my 35 year marriage was being redefined. Now I live with the love of my life from 1970 and know life is good LOVE is the oly thing that matters HOW WHO and WHY we love.. it is a unique journey for everyone who takes the LEAP I have so much enjoyed your observations Thank You Happy Thanksgiving I would love to share with you my Tgiving in Sweden 1970 feeding some 60 expats I endend up plucking all the turkeys with the owner and having one of the best "gifts" of my life Media is just a replacement for what we will not dance with in real life its all there t seems safe



I have a 10 year old, 85 pound, loveable lab, who is not the best (ahem) trained walker. Several years ago, I purchased an Easy Walk leash from Petco. LIFESAVER! It doesn't involve the neck but when the dog lunges at something, or sees a squirrel or rabbit, etc. it grips him under the shoulders and stops him. It has made walks so much more enjoyable and I (110 pounds) have complete control. I can't recommend this enough and it sounds like you have about the same issues I do with this-Bon chance!

Mary, Atlanta, GA USA

When we moved from Long Island to Manhattan I knew would be a big adjustment for our dog. I found that having a good harness made a world of difference. True they can pull a bit more because it isn't around their neck, but I can also grab the handle on the harness and keep him next to me. Also, there is not such thing as safely walking a dog in front of you in a city. They simply have to learn to walk next to you or even a bit behind you and not in the middle of the sidewalk (staying on the curb side or on the building side.) This isn't just for having better control, but the dog needs to believe they are safe with you and not the "scout" who is looking out for danger. City life offers them so many new friends (people and fur), so many new smells, really a bounty of things to keep their mind interested, their zest for life renewed.

In Manhattan Central Park is leash free basically from 9p-9a. And we have dog parks to give them the freedom. When we lived in Paris, we looked for areas (behind Eiffel around 5, Bois de Boulogne, etc).

BTW, in case you ever move to a high-rise. It has its own learning curve, closed quarters, dogs coming in and out, reflective surfaces (mirrored metal). The hallway can become a territory. Our building has easily 100 dogs. All new dogs go through the difficult times in the beginning, and then they settle into elevator/hallway/city living.

This harness is the "no dog can get out of harness" which we use during events in the city or when hiking. The other harness, an Austrian harness, isn't as fool proof, but is excellent, easy on easy off, you can order reflective wording that goes on the sides (velcro on and off.)

Keep your courage! It will pay off with a multiple of rewards to walk in cities and towns.

C. Gardner

Our golden retriever has the same problem --a darling, charming dog--terrific in every way; However--he lunges at other dogs and barks feverishly. We sent him to multiple trainers. He has improved significantly. Now we walk around other dogs, cross the street and move to another area when we see them. Also --when we see another dog coming we prepare him by speaking his name, distracting him and putting him on the other side of our legs so he cannot interact with the other dog. The video of Smokey is just adorable! Give a hug to Smokey for me.


I totally understand this. Finn has owned me now for eight years - he was a rescue dog, although we both rescued each other - but all the rehoming centre knew about him was that he was a stray found on the streets of Cork in Ireland. While we've been together for eight years now, he can still be very unpredictable on our walks and recently "attacked" a puppy. I could see it wasn't an "attack" but I totally understand the anger of the puppy's owners - I would have been super-protective too. It's heartbreaking that most of Finn's attempts to make doggy friends end up with us both walking away with our tails between our legs. Please don't give in though - the more you walk a certain route, the more the other dog Mums and Dads will get to know that Smokey is safe, they just have to get used to him. Get back out there! xxx

GwenEllyn Anderson

Well said. Thank you!

GwenEllyn Anderson

Lots of comments here. I guess that's because dog owners and non-dog owners have a lot of energy invested in their relationships with these wonderful animals.

Smokey is being a normal, healthy golden, n'est-ce-pas ? Especially if he was attacked earlier in life. I had a rescue pup and I was ENCOURAGED to take him into town - just to get him used to being around more and more people and other dogs. I started small and worked our way up and I'll never regret it.

BJ got known in certain areas and people looked forward to having him stop pass by. I developed a lasting friendship with an elderly man around the corner and got to know my neighborhood and others in my town.

So, I say "Keep on walking!" :)

Kimberly Leggitt

Sad story dear - please look into dog training need to be able to prevent problems and they actually respect you MORE if you show them they dont HAVE to be the leader ....


I have the same problem with my dog Marcel. For most of his life he lived freely on the edge of the forest, hardly ever on a lead. Now we are living back in the centre of the town (Tarascon, Bouche du Rhone) and trying to get him to behave on a lead is a daily nightmare (more often than not I cop out and take him by car to a walk that doesn't need a lead and where there are few dogs). He loves playing with other dogs and is never agressive, but does bark at people, who think they are being attacked. I am taking him to Canine agilité classes (doggy school) to try and help his behaviour, but its a bit of a struggle and can be quite stressful. But please don't stay indoors, walking is so good for both of you.

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