I almost killed a dog today.
I was on my way to work, driving down a fairly quiet street in our neighborhood. And a Sheltie was standing in the middle of the street.
Where was the owner, you ask? She was actually being a very conscientious dog owner, busily engaged in picking up her other Sheltie’s deposit on the parkway.
Both dogs were on leash, leashes in her hand. Retractable leashes.
She probably thought her dogs were safe. One dog was by her side, helping with the clean up. The other had wandered into the middle of the street.
And this is just one reason we don’t carry retractable leashes in our shop and advocate against them.
When people come into the shop and ask for them, I’ve often referenced the story of dogs being hit by cars in the middle of the street while their owners were on the sidewalk. But, honestly, I secretly thought it was an urban myth. A horror story that could be true, but that had never really happened.
Until it almost happened to me today.
If I’d been going more than five mph, or not paying attention, that adorable dog would be dead. Instead, I braked in the middle of the street and waited for her to notice the danger her dog was in. I didn’t honk, didn’t get angry, just waited. I knew if it were me, realizing the peril I’d put my dog in, I’d be defensive and panicky. I didn’t want that to happen. When she finally looked up and saw my car sitting, then saw her dog 15 feet from my front bumper, she worked the leash frantically to reel her dog in.
You can say all’s well that ends well, and hope that she’ll be more aware of her dog’s location in the future, or even trash the leash. If the dog had been on a six foot leash, he wouldn’t have been in the middle of the street.
The only possible uses for retractable leashes:
1. In an open field where no other dogs can interfere with yours.
2. Training a dog for the recall (come).
And in both those instances, a length of clothesline or a long line would be even better. Retractable leashes put a constant pressure on the dog’s neck, so dogs don’t ever learn to walk nicely with a loose leash. Retractable leashes are also responsible for many finger and hand injuries – especially the ones that have a rope instead of a flat webbing length.
We know retractables are popular – that doesn’t make them a good idea.