Just over a year ago, I took delivery of the most gorgeous, fluffball of fox-red Labrador cuteness.
An inimitable, loveable tiny bundle of chaos and teeth called ‘Fly’.
Fly eats socks….. and barfs them up again.
Fly ate a pair of my big knickers…… and barfed them up.
The dog who was ‘always sleeping in the kitchen’ and ‘never getting on the couch’, now has his own designated seat (errr….. no, that’s the dog’s seat) and hogs most of the bed.
Like Jack’s magic beanstalk seeds, he grew….
To the point where the only thing my mother said to me (pointedly) was…… “will he grow much bigger?”
It seemed I now owned Clifford, the big, red dog who grows to the size of your average three storey mansion, combined with the staying power and exuberance of the Duracell bunny.
No fear, I had all the books from ‘The Happy Puppy Handbook’ to ‘Easy Puppy Recall’ to ‘Have the Puppy Everyone Else Wants.’
So… purpose of the blog… to the hotly contested, sausages-at-dawn debate.
Should dogs be on the leash:
- A. All the time (Fun Police Approach);
- B. Some of the time (Moderates Approach); or
- C. None of the time (i.e. isn’t it adorable when my giant dog steals your picnic sausage)?
I watch owners and dogs. Nippy owners have nippy dogs. Anxious owners have anxious dogs. Chilled out owners have chilled out dogs. Lovely owners have rescues who take the time to tell you why their dog is nervy (tales of neglect, puppy farms and ear docking – ugh).
The law is clear. Keep your dog under control. Leashes in busy public spaces, around children, near roads, in areas where livestock may live. Dogs can be unpredictable. Dogs can get a fright. Don’t take chances.
The big, grey area is where we all actually walk our dogs. Quiet beaches, coastal walks, country parks, woodland. A happy dog is a dog able to dance in the surf, fossick in the undergrowth, nod happily and bid good morning to a passing collie.
In the big grey area, problems seem to arise when people assume there should be one approach to dog-parenting. Assumptions that all dogs need the same thing despite the unique context of every family, how many plates we’re spinning, how many hours in the day we feel we don’t have, our personal challenges and personalities/mental health/tolerance for other people.
Most of us are doing the best we can. When my dog nicks a sausage (or another dog’s ball), I’m already steeped in shame, planning on doubling down on his training and kicking myself for my bad parenting in not pre-empting the situation. 20 lashes of the leash, Ms Lloyd. And can you please stop the big red dog from taking the piss and laughing at you with his goofy grin. No, I can’t catch him, he’s got a sausage in his gob.
Kindness, compassion, listening to peoples’ stories, respect for diversity (from mini-Jackapoos to house-sized monsters). TOLERANCE.
Especially for us new dog owners whose massive dogs are going through petulant adolescence. We love our dogs too.
The leash debate is simply a metaphor for life.
p.s. You’re relatively safe with a bag of rocket and some tomatoes. They’re the only things I’ve found that he spits back out again.