My dog goes to work with me just about every day. She loves it, the kids love it, and it is so much better than leaving her cooped up in the house all day. But sometimes trying to go from the house to my car can be a real pain, because my neighbor refuses to restrain her rottweiler/lab in any way, and encourages her friends to visit and bring their loose dogs as well. These are nice, friendly dogs who greet me enthusiastically, but it can be a real pain trying to walk a leashed dog between front door and vehicle with other dogs in the way. It turns into Sofia growling at the other dog, hackles raised, yanking on the leash, me pulling her toward the car, the other dog bounching toward us or running around us, Sofia circling me, trying to follow the other dog and “protect” me from it (or play with it) and me yelling a lot.
It’s not fun. I’m just trying to walk from point A to point B, my arms are full of musical instruments and/or books and whatever else I need that day, plus the dog leash. It’s just extremely annoying and something I really don’t want to deal with daily.
The dog from the cabin next door has learned that if I yell at her I mean it and she has finally started to keep her distance. She still loves me like crazy but she knows I’m going to yell at her if I have Sofia with me. But the other dog that was visiting yesterday wasn’t that smart.
He bounced up and his hackles raised and I sure didn’t need Sofia to get into a fight with a Siberian husky as she’s half that size. I yelled at him and he backed off enough for me to get her into the car, but he chased the car out to Chena Hot Springs Road and a ways down the road!
Where was his owner, I ask? Why didn’t he seem to care if his beautiful dog got hit by a car out on the road? Right in front of our driveway there is a blind rise. Cars and trucks come over that rise at 65 mph and more. I often drive on the wrong side of the road until I can accelerate enough and get far enough away from the top of the hill that I can be sure a half-ton pickup isn’t going to slam into me. I might live if that happened, a dog wouldn’t have a chance.
My neighbor has this romantic idea that letting her dog run loose is good for her, and kind to the dog. Her dog must have her “freedom.” She also thinks that dogs magically stay at their master’s home. Most people who let their dogs run loose have these notions.
This particular owner feels that her dog simply “knows” how to behave. She seems to believe her dog is telepathic and can read her mind. The dog supposedly “knows” not to leave the property, and not to go into the road. The only training this dog has had has been people yelling at her to get down. She doesn’t know how to walk on a leash, obviously, and she might sit for a treat, operative word here being “might.” And that’s about it. She doesn’t come when she’s called. She gets into the garbage all the time with her owner’s blessing. Yes, everything this dog does is adorable, according to the owner.
This is a dog that is very smart and able to learn, given training. She’s amiable, if huge and grossly overweight (owner claims that she’s still “filling out” and still needs to eat at will, she’s over two years old) and a real sweetie, if you can keep her from jumping up on you and knocking you down.
The road is about 100 feet down the driveway. This is not very far for a dog, and I have seen this dog’s tracks going all the way down there. I told her owner this, only to be told that her dog “knows” not to go into the road.
Does the dog “know” not to run to another dog, squirrel, horse, moose, or child playing
across the street?
What about the numerous traps around? Does she “know” how to recognize a marten set?
It is dog nature to stake out a territory. Both male and female dogs do this. They also readily explore and seek out other dogs in the neighborhood. In every case, those owners who insist that their dogs stay at home while they are gone are wrong. Just plain wrong. I see dogs go out and pal around together, often several miles from their homes, doing a route, staking out territory. Many of them get hit by cars during these excursions.
They might stay at home when you are there. Or they may not. But I bet you dollars to doughnuts that when you leave for work, your dog does, too. For his “job.”
While out he might go after someone’s livestock, or attack a dog that is responsibly tied out. Dog mushers really hate folks who let dogs run loose. Just about every musher I know has stories of a dog they loved being killed by a loose stray. It’s a horrible thing to come home and find your dog bleeding to death and disembowled but still alive.
Loose dogs can pack up and attack not just dogs, but children, poultry and other livestock. The owners of the attacked livestock have every right to shoot your dog dead, by the way.
Then there is the dog that runs wildlife. Dogs that chase moose condition those moose to come into yards and kill dogs. As far as a moose goes dog=wolf. Moose stomp lots of dogs to death every year. The more moose are chased by dogs, the more moose will be likely to kill a dog, loose or not, whenever it finds one. And as you Alaskans know, moose are like the 500 lb. gorilla, they go wherever they want to go, even if that is your front porch. If you have a dog on your property and a moose passes through, he/she is much more likely to kill your dog if he/she’s already been chased by dogs before.
Face it, dog owners: in a contest between a moose and a dog, the moose is always going to win. Your loose dog is going to get killed by the moose sooner or later.
Let’s see what other dangers, just here in Alaska, loose dogs run into, because we aren’t done yet. There are people who pick up dogs and sell them for laboratory experiments. There are people who will gladly take a loose purebred dog and sell it for the money. There are people who put out poison bait for rodents, bait that dogs eat and die. Or the dogs eat the dead, poisoned rodents and die.
Dogs up here don’t get fleas unless they catch squirrels (which have a lot of fleas).
People leave out anti-freeze more often than you think. Many people are very stupid about this. It tastes good and is deadly to all animals. Many, many dogs and cats die of antifreeze poisoning every year.
Dogs who run free go and visit other dogs, dogs who may not be vaccinated, who may be sick. If your dog isn’t vaccinated he could come home with an infection or virus that will cost you a lot of money at the vet’s if you want to save your pet.
Besides all that, it’s illegal in most neighborhoods to let your dog run loose. Most subdivisions (and in Alaska that doesn’t mean what you in the Lower 48 think it does--we aren’t talking sidewalks and sqeezed together houses here, we’re talking five acre parcels for the most part, and many of the homes don’t even have water) have restrictions that came with your acreage purchase and no loose dogs is usually one of those rules.
So next time you think it would be “kinder” to the dog to let him run loose, letting him has his “freedom,” think again. If you can’t take care of a dog responsibly, you should not have a dog. If you care about your dog, don’t let your dog run loose. Period.