I will get straight to the point here. Please, keep your dog on a leash. He or she has instincts, teeth, and sharp nails.
Recently, I read two articles from Out There Colorado where a dog was shot by a hiker in the woods.
There were/are a range of emotions in the comments of these posts. My opinion is this; dogs must be on a leash where the law directs it. Dogs belong to the owner and the owner is responsible for the actions of their pet.
You can search online and find many of off leash dogs attacking folks and harassing wildlife on the trail. There are some dog owners who have complete disregard for the wellbeing of others.
In the instance below, the owner refused to take accountability or responsibility for her dog despite numerous attacks and was upset with the police about putting the dog down. Dog Killed In St Pete
Here are some of my experiences with dogs and the owners that may provide clarity on this firm stance.
My earliest recollection of dogs was Shawano, my first dog. When my dad enlisted in the army, he ran off, never to be seen again. (Not my dad, the dog) I wonder if a leash would have prevented this.
The Bed Encounter
It is the younger years that are the most defining. Somewhere in this time period, I was brought to a babysitter for a couple of hours. The old man and his wife had a dog that he put in bed with me. Every time I even flinched, the dog growled. It was a terrifying moment that etched itself in my psyche.
The Second Bed Encounter
Randomly, I feel compelled to say this. Many of my readers utilize additional vowels in their English. So, while I speak American and think I speak English, I use words like labor instead of labour.
That being said, when I moved with my family to Colourful Colourado at the age of 6, we lived in an apartment and somehow acquired a grown cocker spaniel. I bonded pretty well with the little guy and I used to wrestle with him. One day he even ate a wretched tasting dinner for me.
All was going well until one night I was in bed and the dog jumped on top of me, peeing all over. That was the last I saw of that spaniel.
This instance also contributed to my perception of dogs with unrestrained behavior.
As I rolled up to second grade, I was the proud owner of a blue Huffy bicycle. I was riding it down a hill to my friend’s house along the sidewalk when a German Shepherd hopped the fence and knocked me off of the seat and onto the ground. I believe me calling for Jesus is the only thing that prevented further attack from the unsecured animal.
The Golden Retriever
Moving on to my preteen and teen years, we had a neighbor who let his 2 golden retrievers run everywhere, even after one of them bit me on the leg, leaving a scar. The focus of the owner was that I must not have been hurt too bad as I was playing football the same day after the attack. Apparently it was ok for the dog owner for her dogs to draw people blood. My neighbors threatened to call the police on me for swinging a stick at the dogs to create space when I encountered them near the creek behind my house.
The German Shepherd
I grew up along a creek in Colorado Springs and have traveled many miles of it in search of the varmint. I still haven’t not found it, but that is another story.
Attune to the changes in my environment, I have always kept my mind sharp for the telltale jingle of a dog collar. On this instance, I heard it coming a mile off and was in a tree as sure as my name is Benjamin.
When the owner approached and leashed his dog, he was amused. I clearly was not. He explained I could have been a bad person and his dog justifiably found me because I was not on the trail. When I became argumentative, he threatened to unleash his dog. At that point, I was a captive audience and was compelled to listen to the man rant about his life. This instance concreted in my head that perhaps the owners of some dogs are the ones out of control.
This one is not pretty. If you are squeamish, just scroll on down to the next one.
With the ever increasing desire to continue my forays in the forest, oftentimes alone, I learned the value of putting on a strong front when confronted by predators. I was riding my bike on a trail when a dalmation came tearing after me. I dismounted and put my bike between myself and the ferocious dog that was making headway on it’s attack. I literally could not hold it off. I pulled a hatchet from my waistband and lifted it. The dog seemed to understand the meaning and gave me a little space, but continued growling at me.
His owners approached about 100 yards away and began yelling at me to put the hatchet away and I refused yelling at them to restrain their dog.
One pulled out a flip phone and said they were calling the police. I tried backing away with my bike and the dog followed.
Suddenly, the dog lunged and I swung my weapon. My aim was true and the dog fell to the ground as if hit with an axe. The owners began screaming that they would kill me, and began running towards me. I fled and did not return to the area for many months. I was unsure if I had committed a crime and was afraid. I don’t think the dog made it.
I survived to be an adult, but was still in a stage where I played games in the park with my friends. The addiction was melee, a very physical live action role play with middle age weaponry that left real welts.
I was observing this day, as I was watching my daughter. She had fallen asleep in her car seat under a shady tree where we had a vantage point to see the simulated mayhem.
They had just completed a round, which takes three or four minutes tops and asked me to join and I agreed. I thought it was a relatively cool day and my daughter was sleeping so why not.
When I was playing, it wasn’t a fake weapon, but horror that hit me. An Akita was sniffing my daughter’s car seat. I ran towards the dog yelling and it did not budge. When I approached, it lunged at me, going for the neck. Now, this dog was powerful and it knocked me on the ground. I was fighting for my life.
I heard someone screaming at me and I ignored it. This dog wanted my neck. I failed to reach the box cutter that was in my pocket because my hands were in use.
My friends responded probably much quicker than I thought and ran the owner and the dog off.
The fight was focused and I experienced tunnel vision or vasoconstriction. I did not know what was going on around me.
They told me that as soon as the dog lunged, the owner came up yelling at me and was trying to kick me in the ribs.
Never, Ever, Leave your child unattended. I was wrong.
The German Shepherd
So, years passed and I was trying to get enough dirt to fill a raised garden bed for my grandmother and I did not want to pay for it. I went down to the woods and began filling buckets with a mix of nutrient heavy silt from the creek when again, the telltale sound of a dog collar approached. I drew my knife with a high guard and a very fast german shepherd made a circle around me, nearly getting my hindquarters. If you have ever seen a police dog, good luck being faster. I slashed to create distance and the german shepherd and I played a game of reflexes that I was bound to lose.
Similar to the stories above, the owner screamed and began recording with her phone, demanding I put away my weapon. I refused and notified her and her camera that I would defend myself. She called her dog and put it on a leash. I placed my knife in my pocket.
She continued yelling and stated her dog would !$&! me up. She said her dog was upset because I was stealing dirt. I told her that she was threatening me and asked her if she wanted that on her video as well. She left the area, and I completed my project.
Oh, you thought I was done. In my last hikes through a rural area, two dogs were sent to “sic” me. Fortunately, I was able to talk both down, but I should not have had to.
In addition, an 11 year veteran of life experienced a personal encounter with a canine this year as evidenced by the picture above.
There you have it. This is a small handful of dog encounters in my 37 years.
In many of these instances unrestrained dogs resulted in negative outcomes that did not have to happen.
There is an incomprehensible disconnect with some folks as to the antisocial behavior they are exhibiting at home and on the trail.