When asked why a dog should always be kept on the leash, I am reminded of a story that I heard from a friend a few years back. The woman was out walking with her friend and both of their dogs. They were hiking a snowy trail that was pretty much free from any other hikers. The women thought it was safe to allow the dogs off the leash, as both were well-trained and responsive to voice commands. Both dogs had fun running through the snow, never venturing too far from their owners. The cold eventually won out, and the women and their dogs headed back in the direction from which they came, which was back towards the parking area.
The return walk was uneventful, until a cross-country skier approached from the rear. He did not make his impending presence known, and as he rushed past, one of the dogs became startled and bolted in the direction of the parking area. The women got the other dog on the leash and went chasing after the runaway. They called out his name over and over, but the dog was out of earshot in a flash. When they arrived at the parking area, they asked some people assembled there if they had seen the dog come off the trail. A couple said that they had seen him, and that he had been running out towards the road at high speed. The women jumped in their car and took off in the direction that the people said the dog had fled in. Sure enough, they quickly caught up with him, still tearing away at full speed. It was a dangerous move, but they got the car as close to him as possible and called his name, which eventually got him to stop and get in the car.
There are a few things that can be learned from this story:
1. You lose complete control when your dog is off leash.
2. Training is simply not enough. If a dog is startled, he will resort to his natural instinct and run to get away.
3. Not everyone is a dog owner, which means they don’t know how to react around dog owners. A skier who had a dog would probably have made his presence known very quickly.