The sign at Foothill Middle School is pretty clear: "Dogs Are Not Allowed On School Property."
Not only during school hours. Not on just weekdays. Not on just the hallways and classrooms.
Not on school property. No matter what day it is or what time it is. Period.
Yet, if you walk past the large, picturesque grass field on any weekday evening or on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you are likely to see at least one dog owner letting his or her pet run freely on this green expanse.
It's behavior we see throughout our society. People who feel the rules don't apply to them.
It's the same type of people who bring small children to expensive restaurants or let their phone ring during a movie.
However, dog owners seem particularly prone to this self-centered behavior.
Now, I don't want to paint with a broad brush. The majority of dog owners are responsible and are aware there is an appropriate time and place for their pets.
But there are enough dog owners who don't abide by this self-awareness to make this behavior a societal problem.
At Foothill Middle School, there are reasons dogs aren't allowed on campus. Beyond the irritation and annoyance factor, there are health concerns. Students have physical education classes on that field. Children play soccer, baseball and flag football on that grass.
Dog owners say they clean up after their pets, but do you get all of the mess that is left behind? And do you clean up after your animal urinates on the grass?
You see the same thing at Heather Farm Park where there are clear signs saying dogs are not allowed in the sand where the toddlers and elementary school children play. Yet, you see the "I'm the exception" dog owners there, letting their pets roam in the play area.
You see it on the bike trails, where signs state dogs must be on a leash. Yet, dogs are running free on those paved paths all the time, just waiting to get entangled with a bicycle rider.
I actually saw it at Saturday morning's Mount Diablo trail runs at Castle Rock Park. People actually took their dogs onto the course's dirt paths. Several runners remarked on how they had to dodge the roaming animals.
A loose dog at a race with hundreds of participants? Seriously, people? Are you completely stupid?
There are dog parks in Walnut Creek. One of them is at the north end of Heather Farm Park. The other is San Miguel Park, where most people expect to see loose dogs. Take your pets to those designated areas and let them go nuts.
Dog owners will tell you, "My dog won't bother anybody" or "He doesn't bite." Don't believe them for a second.
Dogs are by nature programmed to bite. It's how they protect themselves. It's how they survived as a species.
Some dogs bite easily. Others need to be seriously provoked or threatened before they bite. It's a matter of degrees, but all dogs will bite at some point.
This is all a matter of courtesy and thinking of others, whether it be your dog, your child, your cell phone or your loud-playing iPod.
If you remember "There's a time or place for everything," then society will be a little more pleasant place to live.