Here is a topic dear to my heart for oh so many reasons. It is multi layered. Stay with me, the ride may get bumpy.
I am fond of the following saying "Maine, the place dogs should be."
Why wouldn't dogs love it here? We have woods, ocean, lakes, streams, rivers, smells, wild life, and lots and lots of places to run.
But guess what, in the immortal words from Close Encounters "We are not alone." The Internet connects. I am hearing stories from outraged trainers, owners, service dog owners and even people who never owned a dog about wild packs of dogs in public places, off leash, being dangerous and out of control.
Picture this if you will. You are heading back to the car after an hour plus wonderful off leash romp with your dog. Your dogs are tired and just as you are getting in the van, a dog walker opens the door and lets 8 super happy excitable dogs out of their vehicle and they come charging at yours.
What do you think might happen in a scenario like this?
That is right, we are so not alone. We share the trails with other dog owners, and not all are off leash.
We share the trails with people who don't like dogs, and people who are jogging, biking, ski mobiling , four wheeling, hunting.
We share the trail with families with kids and babies.
We share the trail with friendly dogs and not so friendly dogs.
We share the trail with friendly people and not so friendly people.
The list goes on.
We share the trail with people who were friendly until they continuously come upon groups of dogs with professional dog walkers. Most loose in the parking before they even hit the trail.
This my friends is recipe for not only disaster, but leash laws.
If we don't self govern ourselves, then it will be done for us. Leash laws and even dogs banned from popular areas are just around the corner.
I have a few questions for those of you who hire people to walk your dogs.
How well do you know your dog walker and what is going on when you are not there?
Have you authorized off leash excursions?
Do you know how many dogs are with your dog?
Have you ever looked in the vehicle to see how safely (or not) the dogs are being restrained?
Do you know how much if any training these dogs have had?
So what do we do?
Speak up, take video, take names and call the Cops or Animal Control Officer.
Please note - this blog is not intended to bash all dog walkers who have dogs off leash. This blog is intended to draw attention to an ever growing issue that has affected me personally over and over again.
I know very few people who could safely handle 8 dogs on or off leash at once --- myself included.
With much thanks to Liz Langham of Tree Frog Farm for sharing the gang bang story.