Cautionary tail

The yellow ribbon tied to Misha’s leash is more than a decoration.
Krystle Wagner
Feb 26, 2013


For the 14-month-old white husky/pit bull mix, the ribbon is a sign that he needs a little extra space when meeting others.

Grand Haven Township resident Lynda Nietering found the idea from the Yellow Ribbon Project, which aims at visually informing the public that a dog needs more space.

“Everywhere you go, people are walking dogs,” she said.

Since rescuing Misha in September 2012, Lynda and her husband, Bob, said they've found their new companion is beautiful and sweet, but still needs to work on his social issues. Lynda said Misha might bark and appear vicious to passersby.

The Nieterings are looking into formal training for Misha. Meanwhile, they work on his social issues by walking him, but Lynda said people don’t seem to pay attention to the ribbon and approach them.

Although Lynda said she doesn’t think her dog would harm anyone, she wishes people would take note of any dogs wearing a yellow ribbon.

“We don’t want anyone to just walk up to him,” she said.

Whether it’s social issues, personality quirks or medical reasons, Yellow Dog Project founder Tara Palardy said the project has spread from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. and other countries.

Palardy said there are many reasons for a dog to wear the yellow ribbon, but it boils down to helping people understand that the dog needs space instead of the owner having to explain it every time.

“It’s about letting people know it’s not OK to invade a dog’s space,” she said.



If your dog has "social issues" and you need to alert people of its issues why don't you just keep it at home, or take it to a dog park. Why should i have to be careful around a dog in a public park or on a sidewalk...


Why would you even consider such an idea? That's almost blasphemy. These dogs are entitled to walk downtown. Everyone else should pay attention to the yellow ribbon, it's not the dog's fault!


Yes it is the dogs faulty, it an animal and by all accounts from its owner has "issues" with being in public around other dogs and people. Maybe they should train the dog before bringing it around other people or dogs


Thank you so much for rescuing the dog. Like Creedance said, it is not the dog's fault. It is probably the idiots that owned it before. Probably been abused and who knows what else! So I say good for you and thank you so much for having a heart and trying to train the dog properly.


Um, I was being sarcastic. If the dog requires a yellow ribbon then it doesn't belong in public areas. Dogs are not people. If the owner wants to take on the responsibility of a potentially dangerous dog, then Kudos to them. When you bring your dog into a public forum, expect people to reach out to it. If you don't like it, then keep it at home. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. The owners are already negligent by bringing into public knowing that it's a potentially dangerous situation. Sorry. I'm a dog lover, but I don't expect everyone else to be so I keep him at home.


Um Creedance then say what you mean. We can't read sarcasm in print!!!


Great idea train the dog then bring it out and around the general public, why should the general public be put at risk while a person trains there dog


If this owner insists on walking this dog in the downtown area, then that little yellow ribbon needs to be accompanied by a muzzle!!! And by the way Creedance, the dogs have no legal rights so no they are not entitled to walk downtown and I would hardy consider the owner a responsible person, because if this dog bites someone, the owner will be sued and the dog will be destroyed.


The muzzle is a great idea. It will show people right away that the dog might be dangerous.....much better than a ribbon of any color...maybe a yellow muzzle? lol


A yellow muzzle! Great idea - problem solved.


Seems to me that this is a good idea. As the owner of a senior dog who has pain if touched too roughly or is startled, I will start using a ribbon so that people know to leave him alone. I am not sure I understand why all of you commenting above feel you are entitled to touch someones animal that is out in public anyway. Seriously? You feel you should be able to just walk up to a strange animal and touch it?


lovesdogs do you feel its ok to let your dog near people knowing it might be in "pain if touched too roughly or is startled" Why do dog owners think other people want there pet around them?


Maybe it is just me, but when did a yellow ribbon become the international symbol for "do not approach my pet"? That would be the last thing I would think of if I saw an animal with a ribbon on its leash or collar.


Well would you look at that. It is the international symbol for stay away from my dog... I will rephrase my comment.

How are people who don't have pets that have social issues, or non-pet owners supposed to know what a yellow ribbon on a dogs leash means? I have owned more then one dog at a time my entire life and have never heard of this until I read this article.


Wow! Some of you are just to harsh. I think it is great that these people are taking the time out to work with the dog. I know of many people who have adopted dogs (myself included) and you do have to spend some time socializing them. I commend you for doing what you are doing!


Yellow dunce caps might be more noticeable and more apropos.


Take the lead Vladtheimp with the dunce caps. Like I said don't ever get a dog.


I'm with you, Vlad. What a non-story. If the dog is at all aggressive, it shouldn't be out in public. If you must parade a possibly dangerous dog through town, it should be muzzled or trussed-up like Hannibal Lector.


It's not about the dog being aggressive. It only serves as a warning to give him space. They use the ribbons in the horse industry at shows and have color codes for stallions and for horses that don't like their rear end crowded and will buck. It is not saying that the animal isn't fit for what they are doing. It just means to not walk up to them without permission and caution. Obviously if the dog was that dangerous he would be wearing a muzzle in public. Any responsible owner would do that. These people are doing their research so obviously they are responsible. He may just be the kind of dog that gets over excited when he meets new people and tries to jump on them and the owner doesn't want people to overreact if he were to do that. The ribbon could mean a lot of things, and social issues doesn't always mean a dog is dangerous. Quit assuming things about this dog when you don't even know him or what his social issues are. And if this idea were spread around enough then people wouldn't have to ask "what's the ribbon for" and would be easily recognized like in the horse ring without having to do their research. That is part of the point of the article.


Then bring the dog to a dog show or somewhere else that people pay to get into and know what a yellow ribbon on a horse's as* means, not on a public street.

If they were responsible they would get the dog socialized to the point they don't need to warn us ignorant rubes that their dog has "issues" (and do you tell that to little kids?) or keep it chained and at home. Sick and tired of people telling me what I need to do when I'm not the problem, until my wife ties a yellow ribbon on my butt to tell people to stay away from me. Hey, on second thought I might be down for that. Would it work for tax collectors?


You vladtheimp are a heartless idiot. Yea good idea keep it chained and at home. Please dont ever get a dog.


Got this feeling folks that we are about to go round and round again, which is good, and already has a good start. For a change the political and money discussions might be given a temporary rest. A subject like this which stimulates people’s emotions comes about when this comments section needs new life.

Anticipating this question being asked let me be the one. If I see a dog with a yellow ribbon affixed to it and his/her leash is tied to the tree outside of the Great Harvest Bread Company, am I to assume the owner is inside the store getting a free slice of bread?


If I see a tree with a yellow ribbon affixed to it, and a dog tied to the tree which is outside of the Great Harvest Bread Company, do I assume the dog is anti-social and one of its traits is peeing on trees, or, do I assume the owner is waiting for Tony Orlando?


I have had and loved my dogs for an entire lifetime. I never knew they might be afflicted with "social issues." I always thought they were just dogs.


I am all for a yellow tag on unsociable kids too.

I don't agree that unsocialised dogs should be able to wear a yellow ribbon and be immune to social expectations.

Many 'rescue' pups/dogs do not grow up in a balanced environment and can be aggressive for a lifetime. They love humans (rescuer/savior) but no matter how the human loves them, the wrongs inflicted by their own species (ie. the rescue was a breeder dog) will never be completely erased.


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