Saturday, August 15, 2009

Danger to Self and Others

One bright morning a few weeks ago, L was walking her two Greyhounds on a public path, when, about twenty feet away, a woman was walking two dogs--neither on leash. One was a medium-sized mixed breed. the other was a... Bichon.

Other than being confronted by a loose Junk Yard Dog, I cannot imagine a more frightening prospect for someone with any one of a number of large dog breeds on leash than to see a small, unleashed dog nearby. I don't know what makes them do it, but, small dogs apparently have a need to confront larger dogs face-to-face, sometimes darting back and forth, just to be sure to get the larger dog in a lather.

L stopped, put her dogs on very short leash, and called out to the woman to please leash her dogs. While the mixed breed was obeying the woman's command and staying put to be leashed, the Bichon trotted up to L's two Greyhounds.

If this had been an old Disney movie, the Bichon would have given a play bow and the Greyhounds would have play bowed in return. But, in case you haven't noticed, life rarely imitates old Disney movies.

L's Greyhounds are not only the product of thousands of years of breeding designed to make them efficient machines in the pursuit of small creatures, L's Greyhounds also had been trained and rewarded from puppyhood for doing just that. They are retired racers from one of the tracks still operating in the United States and Tijuana. But thousands of years of breeding and training from puppyhood cannot be "retired".

L hung on to her dog's leashes for dear life, until she was pulled over, hitting her head on the hard ground resulting in lacerations and abrasions. The greyhounds snatched the Bichon, trading it back and forth, shaking it like a toy. As L struggled to her feet, dirty and bleeding, the Bichon's owner picked up the little dog and ran, shouting over her shoulder that she was sorry and hoped that L was ok.

In a sense, L is ok. An examination revealed that she was not concussed, as had been feared. Her scratches and lacerations are healed. But in another sense, she will never quite recover from the trauma of that day. L has always followed leash laws. But now, she walks her dogs with extreme vigilance, wondering what more she could have done to have spared the loose Bichon such injury.

The answer is, of course, it was not L's job to protect that poor little Bichon. It was its owner's job. I pray that the Bichon did not have to give its life for its owner's education.

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