Monday, January 20, 2014

Is it time to revisit Wellesley's leash law? A dog's perspective

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. I'd love to race through them
but I'd probably get eaten by coyotes/stuck in icy ooze/run out the other
side and get hit by a car. Safe might be boring, but it's safe.
Would I be asking the question if I didn't think so? I do think it's time. But then again, maybe not.

Here's the reason: a dog's going to do what a dog wants to do. And so are humans.

Take it from me. I know perfectly well what I'm supposed to do. I know how to get home from just about anywhere.

The question is: do I want to?

The answer: not until I've thoroughly explored everything I'd like to explore.

My personal experience is, that's what almost any dog would tell you.

Come when called? Sure, when I'm good and ready.

Right after I run at/scare to death/ jump on someone's grandma or toddler first. Or after I plunge into in Lake Waban to chase a goose/knock over someone trying to navigate an ice patch/sink my teeth into an incredibly handsome Walker hound (that would be me, and I still have the scars).

Be right there, after I tear across the road after that squirrel/runner/other dog.

News flash: Not every dog wants to meet your dog. Not every person enjoys paw prints on their clothing, wants a scratch that leaves a scar (poor Mom), or a heart-pumping scare experience (Mom again). Worse yet, not every driver can stop in time.

I've heard the other side: my dog's better with other dogs off-leash. My dog's friendly. My dog never does that!

I get that. Truly. I'd love to ditch that leash and run, run, run like a wild man. But would I be safe? I have to admit: No.

Answer honestly: Does your dog always listen? Every time? Come when called before checking out that interesting thing? Super. Then the town's bylaw works for you, and please, share your training secrets with everyone else.

The thing is, even if Wellesley had a law requiring dogs to be on leashes at all times, like Natick does, people still would let their dogs go. My sister took on a full body blow last week in Natick's ice-covered Hunnewell forest. "He's friendly!" shouted the owner from way back. Well, good thing, because it's always better to be knocked over by a friendly dog.

Same thing happened to Dad when the lady--with three purple leashes and just one dog on them-- fruitlessly called after her two other beasts as they charged over to me on an icy trail. She didn't say whether they were friendly, though.

Guess Dad should have let me go? That would have been very, very risky.

Because I don't come when called.