I have always appreciated and enjoyed Portland’s love for dogs. Water bowls on sidewalks, pups enjoying outdoor dining with their people and beautiful, dog-friendly parks and beaches demonstrate yet another example of this city’s heart.

As great lovers of dogs ourselves, my husband and I recently adopted a rescue, which had been found on a county highway in Mississippi. With the help of a wonderful group of volunteers, he made his way to Maine and into our home.

We love this rascally fellow, who is smart, sweet and full of life, but we are still getting to know him and we have no idea what sort of stress or trauma he experienced before he came to us. So we don’t yet know how he will react to every situation.

Accordingly, we are working hard on training and we keep him leashed when outside so we can carefully control all greetings with new people and dogs. Unfortunately, our most conscientious plans are thwarted when unleashed dogs are allowed by their owners to freely run up to us.

Walking on the Eastern Prom, this has happened on multiple occasions, and while the dogs who have approached us have been nothing more than friendly and curious, it is very difficult for us to support our dog in learning proper greetings when he feels threatened.

Please consider that a dog restrained on a leash is acutely aware that they are at a disadvantage when meeting an unrestrained dog. Allowing an unleashed dog to freely run up to every dog they see may not result in a good outcome. I know your dog means no harm, but my dog might not recognize that.

We are a work in progress – please give us the space we need to learn and grow so we can master safe, friendly “hellos” in the future.

Lara Burns