I took Dressy over to the Vivian again yesterday. Three hours this time. Almost entirely walking. This time, although the benches were still frightening, we did more ‘snort and slide by’ than ‘spin and bolt’, thank goodness.
I did think, for one crazy moment, that disaster was looming. Not Dressy’s fault though. A woman was walking four rather hysterical tiny dogs. She was having some trouble with all the leashes. And two of the frenzied little rats escaped and ran down the trail towards us. Dressy is not at all afraid of dogs. But these two were on a double leash, which was dragging between them. And of course… the dogs were on either side so the leashes were stretched right across the trail with the knot bouncing in the middle. I had visions of them passing on either side of us and wrapping the whole mess around Dressy’s legs. The woman was running full tilt after the dogs, yelling wildly at me all the while that they were just “very small dogs!!!!” and at the last moment she managed to take a great leap and stomp on the handle of the leashes. Both dogs came to a screeching halt under where Dressy’s nose had been… though of course she’d already starting backing rapidly down the trail. Dressy cautiously proceeded forward when the dogs all stopped. The lady just kept repeating that they were only little dogs and wouldn’t hurt a horse. I tried to explain to her that my alarm was about the LEASHES, not the dogs. I’m not sure she ever even understood what disaster had nearly occurred. So I just told her all was well and to have a nice walk. No point in alienating other trail users. Even crazy ones.
Most of the dogs and owners are quite well behaved when we see them in the Forest. Which always surprises me a bit. My own dog, Jimi, is a Border Collie. And I know positively that he would be terrible if I had him off leash on trails with other dogs and horses. Of course I’d never think of taking the obsessive little lunatic to such an environment, so maybe that’s the explanation. It’s the good dogs who get to go to fun places like that. Jimi is not actually a bad dog… but he was an older rescue case. So he has his emotional limitations. And Swamp Dog (my great aunt’s old Cocker Spaniel that I inherited), though not in any way hysterical (unless food is involved), is largely oblivious to non-food items like horses feet, moving vehicles, or people calling her to “come”. So I would never take her anywhere without a leash either.