Reasons to always keep your dog leashed
Dear Cathy: You really brought up a hot-button issue the other day. While walking on a trail, we came upon a large dog off leash. The owner told us not to worry, that her dog was well-trained. I pulled my Shih Tzu close to me. Her dog came over, though, and before we knew it, her dog was attacking mine. I was paralyzed and didn’t know what to do. My husband finally fell on top of the big dog and stopped it.
When we tried to talk to the woman, she was quiet, wouldn’t answer questions, then burst out in a huge fake crying spell that went on and on. My Sofie was bleeding from the abdomen, so we quickly took her home and to the vet for a $300 visit. Since then, we have talked with people about their off-leash dogs, but I find many of them
supercilious in attitude. —
Barbara, Tucson, Ariz.
Dear Barbara: What a horrible experience for you — and she didn’t even pay your vet bill.
There is no way to know if an approaching dog is a friend or foe, regardless of what the owner says. Dogs can react to a variety of things, so if a big dog approaches, leashed or not, get in the habit of picking up your small dog until you pass safely by the other dog.
Owners of unleashed dogs need to understand that people are often afraid of an approaching dog and that their fear can change how their dog reacts in any given situation. Keep dogs leashed. It’s the law, and it’s the safe and neighborly thing to do.
Dear Cathy: I’ve been fostering abused and neglected dogs for about five months. They pulled on their leashes, which pro- duces tension on their necks and causes stridor (harsh vibrating sound) when they sleep. Leash training takes time. The vest and other walking devices also cause problems. I think collaring/ leashing dogs is cruel now and prefer to teach them to walk off leash. As for rescue dogs, (because I have no choice) I use a prong with a quick pull; it stops the pulling, and they quickly learn not to do it. So, people like me walk their dogs off leash when possible, and we are usually very courteous and maintain distance with people, or we put our dogs in the sit position and let others pass. — Marilyn,
Dear Marilyn: Thank you for fostering abused and neglected animals. Walking dogs off leash, however, may be easier for you, but it often scares other pet owners. You don’t know enough about the personalities of these foster dogs in the little time that you have cared for them to know if they will listen to you or behave around other people and animals.
You do have choices when it comes to collars. Please try the Haltie or Gentle Leader head collars on your foster dogs. They work almost like a horse halter wrapping around the face and snout, so you have better control of the dog, and they will immediately stop pulling. I promise you will love these head collars as a training device, and your neighbors and other dog walkers will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping these rescue dogs leashed.
Dear Cathy: I read your column, and I enjoy it very much. You asked for stories about keeping a Christmas tree upright when animals are present. Here’s mine.
I am a retired art teacher, but many years ago I also had some private students. One of my students was extremely talented, so I got permission to take her on a field trip to a local art gallery owned by a friend of mine. When I arrived at her home, her stepmom invited me in. I noticed that the Christmas tree had a chain wrapped around the trunk and firmly attached to a large eye-bolt that screwed into the wall. I asked, “What’s up with the chain and eye-bolt?” She replied, “Six kids, five dogs, three cats, what do you think?”
Thanks for writing such an informative column. —
Nancy, Gurnee, Ill.
Dear Nancy: Your letter made me laugh as I imagined the mayhem in that household. Both kids and pets can knock over the Christmas tree, so I love the family’s industrial strategy for keeping their tree upright. An unbreakable chain hooked to the wall seems about right for their family of 15. Thanks for sharing.
Keeping your dog leashed is a necessity.