Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Does anyone use a leash?

It’s a soapbox day. This time, my issue is with folks who believe the world belongs to their dog.
On beautiful Easter Sunday, my husband and I decided it would be a great celebration of the holiday to take a long hike through a nearby state recreation area.
Although the miles of trails are seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, they get heavy use from bicyclists, hikers, hunters, fishers and more.
We figured that we’d have the trails mostly to ourselves as everyone else gathered around tables to dig into a nice holiday ham.
As we made our way around the 4-mile loop, we came across a bicyclist right away. I always move Sensi out of the pathway for bicyclists — it’s only polite.
The three of us were genuinely enjoying our walk. Sensi’s sniffer was going a 100 miles an hour and Brent and I took in the sights and sounds of a gorgeous spring day in one of Michigan’s beautiful forests.
Let me point out here that even though we figured we’d run into probably no one else, we kept Sensi on a leash.
Brent and I were hunched over, practically to our knees, climbing up one of the trail’s steeper hills. We couldn’t see what was in front of us and so, when a large black lab came charging toward Sensi, it was a total surprise to all of us.
Being a fearful dog, Sensi does not react well to being charged by other dogs. Being a pit bull too, his reaction to fear is not flight, but fight.
The situation got even worse. The single black lab was soon joined by his pack, another black lab and a yellow lab.
I put Brent in charge of holding on to Sensi and began trying to keep the other dogs away from my dog. As I shooed one dog back, the other would come in closer.
Mind you that these weren’t scary dogs. They seemed all together friendly, but that doesn’t change things from my dog’s point of view and I know that. What Sensi saw was his pack being invaded and threatened by three larger dogs — their likely friendliness was not a factor.
The dogs’ owner finally rounded the top of the hill.
“Is he OK?” he asked me about Sensi while I led one of his dogs to him. I expected him to put the dog on a leash, but as I released the lab to him, he simply continued walking.
“No, he’s not OK,” I said back to the guy, flabbergasted. “He’s not friendly.”
I wanted to scream, “Get your dogs away from my dog! What the heck are you thinking?”
The guy just continued walking nonchalantly, as if my dog was the problem. He didn't even call his dogs to him.
Let’s be clear — my dog was on a leash. Had his dogs been on a leash, there would be no problem.
From the looks of it, though, this guy didn’t even have a leash with him.
Three dogs and not a single leash. To me, that’s absurd.
I’m glad that lots of you folks have perfectly balanced, happy go lucky and friendly dogs. That is fantastic for you.
That is not, however, the hand I was dealt. And your perfectly balanced, happy go lucky and friendly dogs like to approach my dog when they are not leashed, causing my fearful dog to quickly pee himself and then go into attack mode.
I do the best I can. I prevented my dog, once again, from biting these offending dogs — dogs that should have been leashed.
Please, when you’re on public property, when you’re supposed to have your dog leashed, please, please leash your dog.


  1. I like this post. I've run into similar situations when at the park and hate when owners don't have their dog on a leash. I don't understand it, because even the most well-behaved dog could run and end up getting hit by a car.

  2. I agree with you. People need to take more responsibility for their pets safety. My dog (1/2 Lab & 1/2 Pit bull) and I are regularly "greeted" by unleashed dogs on our daily walk through my Royal Oak neighborhood. For lost dogs, I carry a spare leash with me and cell phone to try to call the owner. Sometimes, their owners are 20feet away and usually chatting on their cell phones or some other self-absorbed activity. I think these are the same unresponsible people who don't pick up after their dogs. Thanks for the great blog, look forward to the next entry.

  3. I totally agree with you, there are several dogs in my subdivision that are not leashed and run into the street to greet my rescued GSD. She is dog agressive and controlling a scared 80-pound dog is a challenge. Some of the owners tell me not to worry, their dog is friendly. That's great for them they can just walk back inside their home, I have to try to calm a dog who is anxious and scared. Next time it happens, I will call the police because you know they'd do the same if my leashed dog attacks their loose dog.

  4. Thank you everyone for showing support and letting me know I'm not alone in feeling this way!

    I actually don't walk my dog around my house because all my neighbors have such a laissez faire attitude about keeping their dogs in their yard.

    I wrote a series of blogs when I first started this blog about challenging charging dogs. Learn more about what a charging dog means (even a friendly one) and, when you're NOT taken by surprise, what you can do about it — at your own risk, of course. Here's the links.

  5. Can't tell you how many times I've shared the same experience as you Karen. I always keep my two large mutts on a leash. Just love it when people approach with unleashed dogs and say "it's all right". No it isn't! Much like Sensi, my dogs get nervous when strange dogs charge them and their first reaction is to fight. They're not vicious, just uncomfortable in that situation. Wise up folks, it's not "all right" keep your dogs leashed.