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!