I sometimes use a retractable leash for Raja and shorten it up when walking in high traffic areas. I prefer not to use any leash when hiking because Raja’s not a runner and I feel that there has got to be a place where dogs can trot free. He loves to lead the pack and I love to watch him do it. We had to change our behavior after learning more about the danger to curious dogs from East Coast copperheads and timber rattlesnakes and the always hungry cougar population of the West Coast hills. (The retractable leash is not for everybody and it does have its detractors.) The picture above is Raja’s newest leash his friend Buttercup gave him. It’s relatively long, but can be shortened up, and has flashing or steady green battery lights to make walking at dusk safer. If the passing cars can’t see us, at least they can see that glowing green line moving along.
But this post isn’t about hiking in the wild hilly badlands or streets at twilight…
A few days ago one of our friends was walking her three dogs through a parking lot. To tell the story short, a car backed over one of her pups, killing him and my friend had her arm and leg fractured as she dove to save him.
Our friend’s dogs were short, but all dogs are shorter than the height of a car’s trunk. When the lead dog pulled ahead behind the parked car, the driver, if he looked, didn’t see anybody directly behind, started the engine and, in the same motion, reversed smoothly.
Raja and I don’t want to discuss this one too much. We’re not talking about blame. We feel squeemish and heart broken, but we want to emphasize- even in a seemingly quiet parking lot, walking on a seemingly quiet sidewalk- please be aware that a nimbly handled car can back out or emerge quickly from a parking spot or a driveway. Now, a well loved reading therapy dog will be missed at a Miami public library after-school program. That little Shih Tzu led a valuable life. She did a lot of good in her world. She lived larger than her 10 inches high. She listened while stammering kids read to her. They learned and grew because of the furry therapist with all the patience in the world. My friend also won’t be getting out to volunteer again for a long time.
Please shorten up your leashes around cars, driveways and when traversing alleys and streets. It’s hard to pick up multiple dogs, but picking up a small dog in random traffic areas isn’t a bad idea either, if you are so moved.