Monday, July 13, 2009

*#%^(-@$ Leash-walkers!

After reading the follow comment by Carmon on my previous post, I wanted to write a clearer explanation of my favorite curse word, leash-walker. Here is what Carmon wrote:

"As one of the loathed 'leash walkers' I thought I would explain that in some cases, like with sight hounds and greyhounds in particular, they must be on leash in open areas for their own safety. After thousands of years of genetic programming to chase, any running animal will turn off all reason with the only focus being on chasing. They will run until they are exhausted and have no idea where they are. They will run right through barb wire fences and directly into traffic. There are a few rare ones who can be trusted, Duffy, Vannie and Mikey were safe in our own history. But ones like Ellie proved over and over again that no amount of training would bring her back if she got out of the yard on a chase."

I'm starting to realize that Mabel's Greyhound roots are probably what sends her on such chases and makes it necessary for me to have a leash with me. I've never written about Mabel's deer incident. We've had several encounters in the creek with wild deer. But there was one in March of '05 that really stands out...mainly due to a nagging pain in my shoulder from that day.

I had just rounded the levee and heard a strange splashing / moving rocks kind of noise. I looked upstream and at first thought it was a really large rabbit coming downstream. Then I realized it was a deer with huge ears. Not having a leash on me and knowing it was too late to get Mabel out of there, I took her down to the shoreline and made a lot of noise. I started singing really loud and waving one arm to alert the doe to my presence while holding onto Mabel's collar with my right hand.

My actions worked to a degree. The doe took the lower channel which was blocked from our view thanks to an island in the stream. Mabel could only see the island and not the other stream, but she knew something big was over there. The doe took off up onto the land but kept heading downstream at a gallop. Fifty yards down, she decided to enter the water again. And then my girl spotted her.

I was screaming "NO!" and holding onto Mabel with everything in me. She pulled me down, ripping something in my shoulder (don't know what...crappy health insurance. I never went to the doc but my shoulder hurts all the time!). I ended up flat on my back and when I put my foot down, I was in the cold water. I made it up to my knees and saw that Mabel was gaining on the doe. I screamed and called for her...It made no impact. It was as if I wasn't even there.

They rounded the bend in the creek and I could see they were side by side. Mabel had caught up with the doe and they were having the best run! And all I could imagine was that they were about a third of the way to the freeway. I really thought I didn't have a dog anymore...which is when I learned another thing about Mabel. She loves me...and is somehow aware when I'm not around anymore...even when chasing.

I was hurt and sobbing and convinced I would never see my dog again. I headed back to my car. I had barely made the second bend in the trail when I heard her collar. Another 30 seconds and she was by my side.

This incident was one of the events that led me to carry a leash. The other, as mentioned before was a run - in with leash walkers.

A leash walker is not someone who leashes their dog to protect the animal from his / her own habit of running off into the wilderness. It is not someone who lives in a city environment and leashes to keep the dog out of traffic. A leash walker is one who is so afraid of everything and has no idea how to train a dog much less socialize one. They don't even get the dynamics of socializing an on-leash animal with one off-leash.

There are women who come to the creek, terrified of danger around every corner. They are terrified of snakes, water, homeless people, cacti, teenagers, and coyotes. They hold their leashes so tight, I'm afraid they are going to choke their pup! They are mortified of an off leash dog coming up to them or their dog. They start screaming the minute they see you. With a world full of safe sidewalks where dogs must walk on leash, I wonder what the heck they are even doing out at the creek!

One such woman saw me descending the mountain opposite the levee one Saturday. She and her friend had big white shepherds on leash. And even though we were a good 100 yards away across two creeks, they both started screaming, "Get your dog, get your dog."


"Our dogs aren't friendly."

Then why did you come here?....everyone here has friendly off leash dogs.

"Well that's not the law."

I proceeded to explain my law...that would be the middle digit... and hiked upstream away from them.

The fact is, I've so rarely encountered dogs off-leash that can't work out their differences as long as the humans stay out of it. But more likely, the humans hear a growl and take it for aggression, when often, the dogs are just boisterous.

When an on-leash dog meets an off-leashed one, the on-leash dog can feel threatened and become aggressive. The "flight option" is taken away, so fight is the only choice. But this can be avoided if the person holding the leash is a calming force. But so often, in the creek, I encounter people who are so terrified of other dogs, they tighten the rein on their dog, thus making him show aggression.

There is another dog at the creek, Dolly, who is outright aggressive. We've begged her owner repeatedly to keep her on a leash. I've seen / heard of several of Dolly's fights at the creek and she has attacked Mabel at least five times. My leash has proved vital in these fights... I've actually kept Dolly at bay by swinging it! (Her owner offers no assistance in these skirmishes!)

I firmly believe that Dolly's owner should have spent the time socializing her so that she doesn't see every dog she meets as something she wants to kill. And Dolly was an off-leash dog and only recently has her owner started leashing her.

So I guess what I mean by the term "leash-walker" is someone who doesn't take the time to socialize their dogs and teach them how to have fun with other dogs.

And that dear Carmon is certainly not you!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation...I pretty much knew that was what you meant but didn't want other readers with sight hounds to feel bad about the need to keep their dogs from chasing and getting themselves lost and/or hurt.

Our kids are very friendly and good with other dogs, kids etc. Some greyhounds though, will see small furry dogs as prey. We've been fortunate to never have one of those!

At most greyhound fund raising events people are cautioned to not bring other breeds because some NGA greyhounds have such a high prey drive. You can put 1,000 greyhounds together and it will be completely peaceful until the non-greyhound shows up!

We can let Duffy off leash in our own woods and he will stay close, but if something caught his attention like a wild deer, coyote, etc, he would probably give chase so we always make a lot of noise when we hike with the dogs off leash. It's looking like Willie will also be able to be off leash in our own woods too, but again, I don't think I would trust either of them in your situation!

Mike and I both agree with you that way too many people get dogs and then either don't take the time or haven't a clue as to how to correctly socialize them. Definitely a big problem!


Snowbrush said...

When Bonnie, my blue heeler, was a young dog, she was the life of the party around other dogs. When she grew older, she attacked them, and she especially attacked the very dogs who had been her friends. The only way I could prevent this was to keep her close enough for her to take my commands seriously. Rather than exercise the vigilance to keep her close, I started putting her on leash when I saw another dog. And not just for her, but for the other dog too, because he would be the one to be bitten when he came running up and jumped on her, because at that point, no words that I could say would restrain her. Dogs aren't robots that can be programmed. We can do a lot with them, but temperament and breeding does matter.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. I would report Dolly to the county dog catcher.

Snowbrush said...

PPS Two months ago, Baxter (my schnauzer) was attacked and bitten several times by a pit bull. Since then, I ALWAYS carry pepper spray, and I've even used it once against another pit bull that came running at him in the same manner as the first. I didn't know what the dog's intentions were, but I wasn't going to risk Baxter's life to find out. I was able to beat the first pit bull off with my one good arm, but I was just lucky that it was a not-particularly-aggressive female. I don't intend to ever be unable to protect my dogs.

I am so sorry about your shoulder.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...


Dolly has been reported... the dog catcher in Los Angeles doesn't give a crap as long as a human wasn't hurt! The report did get Dolly's owners to finally keep her on leash.

I used to carry pepper spray because big, aggressive dogs used to look at my sweet Maggie and want to kill her. Once, we were being charged by a German Shepherd and I sprayed with all my might.

It was then I learned you really need a permit for pepper spray. They never really explain that you have to know which way the wind is blowing.... Maggie and I got a face full!

While it did prevent the attack, the stuff scared me. How can you ALWAYS make sure you are upwind of an attacker??? I don't carry it anymore.

Snowbrush said...

You can't always be sure you're upwind because an attack might occur too fast. You can get pepper spray that emits a stream instead of a fog. A stream is harder to hit with, but the wind problem is much less. I like a brand called Fox that I order from :

As far as a permit is concerned, I don't think Oregon requires one. I do know that some places outlaw pepper spray altogether, which puts you in the position of deciding between obeying the law and protecting your dog (if not yourself) Having recently witnessed a pit bull attack, I'm pretty hawkish on the subject. The woman who owned the dog assured me that HER dog had never attacked ANYTHING, and I've no doubt but what she told the truth, yet I still had a dog who nearly lost an eye. I really dislike pit bulls. I know one of them quite well, but as a breed, I wish they didn't even exist. When three breeds of dogs are responsible for nearly all serious attacks on people and other dogs, it really rankles me that so many people are so certain that THEIR pit bull, or Rotty, or German Shepherd, would NEVER hurt anyone.