July 30, 2013

The Sarge Chronicles: Pet Safety

I’ve been meaning to post something about this topic for a while now. As you know, Sarge is my love. He’s spoiled rotten as evidenced by the photo in this post, but I have no one but myself to blame and I wouldn’t change a thing. photo-7

Here’s the thing about Sarge, he’s part German Shepherd–which you can see from him markings. Shepherds are known for being loyal, among other things. Case in point, one day when Sarge and I were outside, one of my long-time neighbors attempted to show me a hockey stick he had repaired. Sarge didn’t understand that my neighbor wasn’t about to harm me and essentially lost his little doggie mind–my neighbor stepped back, Sarge was on a leash, all was well (and truth be told, I have no interest in hockey or its equipment). But here’s my main point–SARGE WAS ON A LEASH.

Leashing Your Dog Isn’t Just for His Safety Unfortunately, I’ve been in several situations where I’ve encountered dogs off their leash. Now, there are times when it accidents happen and a dog will escape his leash (see prior post on ‘off leash‘), I get that. But my concern is with people who repeatedly let their dog off their leash in an effort to let them out to wander the yard, quickly go to the bathroom, all when their yards aren’t fenced. And even worse, I have one neighbor that walks their dog without a leash. Granted I live on a cul-de-sac in suburbia, but that’s still irresponsible.

On 2 different occasions, I’ve had 2 different dogs approach Sarge, while he was leashed and they were not. We didn’t know the dogs or the owners. One guy said, “She (meaning the dog) is friendly, she just wants to say hello,” as he ran after his dog because she was off leash out in their yard and came down the street because she saw Sarge. And ummm, guess what, my dog is NOT friendly, and doesn’t want to say hello. (Now, don’t get me wrong, Sarge has plenty of doggie friends that he gets along with, including his 6lb. Yorkie girlfriend Sadie. But none of them approached him off leash with their owner running after them…but I digress.) If something were to have happened to the dog, or Sarge, or me for that matter–how awful would everyone involved have felt? Not to mention the legal ramifications.

The other incident that I’ll outline, is where a guy had one of his Great Dane mixes off leash because she was a puppy. Have you ever seen a Great Dane puppy??? Anyway, I was terrified, I kept moving in circles to distract both her and Sarge and the guy just stood there. Well, instinct and hysterics took over and I just started screaming. The guy finally saunters over and says, “It’s ok. They’re not going to kill each other; unless your dog’s a killer.” And what if my dog is a killer, then what? Is he at fault for protecting both himself and me?

I must be blunt, there is no other word for this kind of behavior but to call it what it is, ignorance. When your dog is off his leash, unattended, and not fenced, it poses a threat to me, my dog, your dog, and you. It’s just so unfair to everyone.

Recently, on yet another walk, we encountered a dog that was standing curbside in front of a house. No leash, and in this case, no supervision what-so-ever. As it turns out, I discovered that while the dog has an owner, it had been out of food for 2 days, was being fed table scraps, and had not had its shots. My neighbors intervened immediately and offered to adopt the dog. Thankfully, the dog didn’t appear to be hurt in any way. Though not having its shots, who knows what’s going on internally and I somehow doubt flea and tick prevention was top of mind for its current owner.

Dogs (really pets of any kind) are a huge responsibility and they’re costly. The walking, the feeding, the treats, the shots, the exercise, socializing, and that’s just regular maintenance–Heaven forbid they tear an ACL or cut their paw on a piece of glass and have to make an emergency vet visit and wear the cone of shame. There is no harm in saying that owning a dog is too much responsibility, no matter how much fun it may seem like. Somewhat similar to children, they are at the mercy of their (pet) parent(s) and they weren’t put here to be mistreated.

Tips for Dog Owners

  • Leash your dog
  • Take proper medical care of your dog:  Keep your dog up to date on shots, flea and tick prevention, and heart-worm meds
  • Feed them properly and regularly
  • And give them lots of love

The Maryland SPCA used to have a slogan that I loved, “Feel the Warmth of a Cold Nose.” Think I’ll go feel some of that right now.

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