Rules of Engagement

During the Xmas holiday we took the dogs snowshoeing.

We found a spot where dogs were invited to run off-leash while we went snowshoeing.

We were all excited to get out of the car to begin the “big adventure”. John was out of the car first and proceeded to let Deuce and Rio out of the car. Both our dogs are now off leash as we are all standing next to the beginning of the off-leash trail. I turn around and I tell John that the dogs must be on leash in the parking lot.

He proceeds to leash the dogs while I am still fumbling with the back strap of one of my snowshoes. At this same moment a man comes out of the trail with both his dogs off-leash.

One of the dogs approaches our dogs. Rio is getting very worked up. She, like most dogs, does not like to greet an unknown dog while leashed. She proceeds to growl and sneer. All people are oblivious of the dog’s interactions and instead they are minding their skiing equipment.

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I remove Rio out of the situation as fast as I can, as I am still (remember) fussing with my snowshoe.

Off we go into the trail and we are having a blast. We basically have the whole route to ourselves. Both Deuce and Rio are kind of pinching themselves in disbelief.

Almost 2 hrs. later both dogs are clearly tired and the humans cold so we end our adventure.

We are back at the parking lot with our dogs on leash and ready to get them into the back of the car when another off-leash dog approaches us. I am farther away from both my dogs while John is holding the leash.

Now we have a dog fight in our midst! #%$&**@… I am so pissed. I guess some people think the rules do not apply to them. I am so angry that I am ready to give the owner a piece of my mind as I am shooing her large dog away from mine and I hear her across the parking lot calling her dog.

I know that incidents like this are unfortunately the norm and not the exception. So what is one to do?

That evening I am thinking of how we could have prevented both incidents and while life is never 100 % I come up with these conclusions: Follow the rules – which we did and work your plan – which we did not.

The “plan” in this example would have been to leave the dogs in the car where they would be safe until John and I were perfectly ready to hit the trail. Instead of having to manage the dogs and other people’s dogs while we’re fumbling to get ready.

We avoid at all costs having our dogs meeting strange dogs on leash. In these two instances we were left with little choice but the plan and goal should remain the same: Be ready to move away from the approaching off-leash dog. In addition, it is crucial that everyone plays a defensive role in the event that a dog fight ensues. Your dog is counting on you! Nobody – and that includes our dogs likes to be jumped!

People really do not get that dogs do not do well (it is not part of their “vocabulary” and communication) meeting and greeting on leash (unable to move away from danger) and it is even more problematic when one dog is leashed and the other is not!

The problem is, of course, complex. We need better laws that dictate when and where dogs need to be leashed as well as provide ample places where dogs under voice control can run loose. The laws do exist, but what does not is their enforcement as well as hefty consequences for breaking them!

We also need to have a population of educated dog owners who will take into consideration the safety and well-being of their dog as well as the safety and well-being of someone else’s dog.