Michaela Merz

Limits of freedom

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My son has an incomprehensible panic-fuelled fear of dogs. Rationality does not help much there. We went to visits my mother’s sister for a few days, who has three lovely small dogs. The beginning was difficult but after two days the dogs and my son were best friends. His panic-fuelled fear towards unknown dogs had changed into friendly respect. I was very glad.

On Sunday morning I went jogging in the forest on the Zurichberg. It was still very early and no one to be seen. After about 50 minutes I only had a short distance left. And then I saw him. A huge dog was running towards me. His master was far behind him. It was obvious that it was still a very young dog. Playful and still with clumsy movements. I was not nervous and despite his size I did not consider him as dangerous. The dog even accelerated and I was in his home straight. By now we were very close and I slowed my steps and stopped. He was already there and jumped at me with run-up. His paws touched my shoulders and left marks on my light jacket. I stood there without moving and the dog continued to jump at me. I did not do anything. Finally he got bored. Then he discovered sheep on the neighbouring meadow and ran to them. His master came closer to me up to a few metres. I waited. Then I asked him whether he had not read the board at the edge of the forest where it was written that dogs are to be taken at the lead.

He answered that I should not make such a fuss. That there was nobody. In the meantime his dog tried to jump over the fence, behind which the sheep were.
I was appalled. Not by the dog but by his master. Not a word of excuse, no sign of regret.
Take the dog at the lead, I said quietly but firmly.
Don’t interfere, he answered gruffly.
I had enough and said, take the dog at the lead or I will call the police.
He stared at me as if I were from the moon. He called his dog but the dog did not obey at all. Only unwillingly the man went to his dog. It took a while until he managed to catch the dog.
I stood there and watched them.
When he had finally managed to catch the dog and had him at the lead, he turned to me and said very loud: “In the past Switzerland was more liberal.”
I then continued jogging. I felt sorry for the dog, it was a beautiful young dog, but unfortunately he had the wrong master.

The freedom of one ends, where the freedom of another person is restricted.

In that moment I thought of my son. Perhaps he had a similar experience with dogs and I had not even noticed it. Any way, it is good that he no longer panics with dogs. They are great companions, if well educated.

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