Happy Spring! The weather is finally thawing and that I have returned to my daily dog walking routine to enjoy the sunshine, budding flowers, and fresh air. Plus walking keeps us healthy and feeling good- mostly.
Yesterday morning, the sun was brightly shining and it was cool outside but the air was full of promise that it would turn into a gorgeous spring day. I looked at my hubs and said, “Let’s go for a dog walk.” This is nothing unusual on a Sunday morning or afternoon this time of year. As always, he agreed and we laced up our sneakers and leashed our two dogs and set off on our walk.
We have about five routes that we walk frequently, including one that is exactly 5k long, which is helpful for my hubs to know, since he is a runner. This route is beautiful, winding along side old farms with horses wandering along in their pastures, rolling fields and woods. Even better, the route doesn’t have a lot of car traffic on it so we walk it often and feel safe. Walking the 5k with the two dogs in tow takes just under an hour. Unfortunately yesterday I was trying to make it to my yoga class so I didn’t have that long to walk prior to leaving. So we walked to the end of the first leg of this route and turned around.
We were less than a half a mile away from our home when a large dog, who had been off his leash in his yard charged at us and attacked our little dachshund, Heidi. The dog stood head to head with our lab and was so aggressively attacking Heidi that at one point he had her totally in his mouth, off the ground, and was shaking her. It was like watching Shark Week, only with dogs, and one of the most upsetting moments in my life, seeing my poor little dog getting brutalized by this bigger dog.
Not knowing what to do, I started screaming. The owner of this dog, who had been in her yard, came running. According to her, she allows her dog off the leash in her yard, even though the dog has a history of chasing small animals that are in the field across the street from her house. Meaning, her dog, on more than one occasion has ran out into the middle of the road. Yes, the road isn’t highly trafficked, but she lives right after a blind corner and drivers out here tend to ignore the 30 mph speed limit and fly around those curves.
After the dog released Heidi from his grip, we carried her home and realized she was bleeding badly. We rushed her off to the vet emergency hospital. She suffered 4 puncture wounds to her chest and abdomen and needed drainage tubes put in 2 of those wounds and staples in the others.
During the hours we spent waiting at the vet hospital yesterday, many other dogs came into the hospital. Two stand out from the crowd. Both were black labs. The first had been brought in because, like Heidi, he had been attacked by two dogs who were both off of their leashes at a local park. He ended up needing two stitches in his ear. The other lab was not so lucky. He had been off his leash outside and ran into a road, where he got hit by a car. This poor lab unfortunately passed away yesterday.
While at picking up Heidi last night, we spoke to the receptionist at the hospital. “Unfortunately,” she said, “we see a lot of this kind of thing during warmer weather. Dog owners don’t realize that leashing their pet can save their pet’s life or another pet.”
That said, please leash your dogs and be aware of your surroundings. You never know if your dog is going to run out into the street and get hit by a car or find someone else’s dog and decide to get aggressive. Leashing your dogs and monitoring their outdoor habits is the best thing you can do for your pets during this season of being outside. Tethering your dog may feel cruel or unnecessary but I guarantee you, the owners of that lab wish that they had. And I certainly wish the dog that attacked Heidi had been leashed.
Do we still plan on walking? Absolutely. Heidi will be sitting some walks out over the next several weeks as she heals from her ordeal. I can also say we will not walk down that road again with either of our dogs in tow, until we see that the owner has installed a fence.
But other dog owners, I urge you, please take the proper precautions so you can truly enjoy this season of warmth with your best friends.