This morning it happened again… I was happily walking my dog (introducing: Aurora Africanis) on our local beach and a fellow dog walker, coming from the opposite direction, stopped to have one of those friendly, ‘we’re like minded people’ type of chats.
It often happens that somewhere in the following doggy chitchat the question: “Why don’t you take her off the leash?” comes up. My answer inevitably is: I don’t; and I won’t.
Wherever people like to take their version(s) of Canis Lupus Familiaris for a walk, you will encounter many of these furry, four legged creatures wandering around by themselves. They chase whatever they want, sniff whoever they want and drop their ‘droppings’ wherever they want.
Sometimes you will hear their human companion calling a name or whistling a preset tune which is supposed to entice the canine creature to immediately stop what it is doing and return to its master. In my experience this hardly ever happens. I can’t tell you how much these canine delinquents annoy me.
In truth, it’s not the dogs who are the delinquents or who annoy me; it’s those human companions. Dogs will do what dogs want to do, they tend to live in ‘the now’ and reasoning is not really their forte. Their human companions’ on the other hand… common sense and social responsibility are supposed to be human traits, right?
When Aurora and I go for a walk, be it up the mountain, on the beach or in the forest, we are connected to each other by our fondness of the outdoors and the leash. In the mountains and on the beach I use a six metre long rope, which gives her plenty of slack to run up and down, stop and sniff whenever she wants. In the forest I use a short leash, just because there are too many trees there to wrap six metres of rope around.
Walking with a dog on a leash isn’t as easy as I perhaps make it sound. Like any other skill, we had to evolve from having a tug-of-war to having an almost elegant leash-dance, where we twist and turn around each other, attempting to anticipate each others moves so we don’t get entangled. Nowadays we move around like a Fred A. and Ginger R.
I guess it’s pretty clear I like dogs, but not everybody is a Canis Lupus Familiaris’ kind of person. Some really dislike them; some even go as far as being scared of them. And sometimes I even run into people who like dogs, but only their own (the same can be said about their pooches). To me, it doesn’t feel right to put these poor people in a situation where they are forced to interact with my adorable furry friend, hence the leash.
Another key reason why I leash my dog is because most of the places where I walk are Table Mountain National Park regulated areas. And their regulations state: dogs should be leashed at all times. I am even a ‘proud’ Level 1 Activity Permit holder, which allows me to walk my dog in designated TMNP areas. (Obtaining the ‘Permit’ turned quite comical when I argued with the TMNP person about who should apply for the card, me or the dog: “The dog doesn’t only take me for a walk, sometimes she takes my wife instead.” The discussion ended with the Park person’s argument: “It doesn’t make sense”. I agreed wholeheartedly.)
The last reason for keeping Aurora on a leash is my ‘Mea Culpa’ reason. I admit I haven’t done enough ‘Dog Whisperer’ things with her. She’ll pay attention and behave like a proper trained dog about 50 percent of the time. And this, in my happy little world, is not a pass rate. We should to play a little less and work a little more.
I enjoy being ‘out there’ with my dog, I don’t like to annoy other people while I’m there and I’d like to stick to rules when and where I can. I just hope this is where my Western view of Karma, “What comes around, goes around”, will kicks in soon. Maybe one of these days those non-leashy people will stop annoying me.