Dog Tips: Roaming Free

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As a pet photographer, of course I love dogs! After all, I had a choice about what to focus on in my business, and I chose pets, which to a large extent means dogs.

If you read any of my blog posts or Facebook posts, you know there’s another side to me, and that’s the distance runner side. As a distance runner, I spend a lot of time on the roads of Little Rock, because you can’t drive out to the trails every day if you live in the middle of town and need to also take time for important things like taking care of a family, or running a business.

One thing that always shocks me is the number of dogs that are running around loose, virtually every time I go for a run.

I’m not talking about stray dogs. I’m talking about dogs that belong to someone … usually that person who is standing there in their front yard, with their unleashed dogs, chatting with their neighbor, until I come along and one or more of the dogs start chasing me.

This usually provokes a frenzy of upset shouting from the dog owner, sometimes quite loud and frantic screaming, which (because it’s a dog) more often upsets the dog and (because I’m a pet lover) also upsets me.

Let me make this clear: I’m upset not because your dog is chasing me, not because the dog did anything at all wrong, but because the DOG OWNER is being irresponsible and acting in a manner that could very easily cause harm to the pet.

As a pet photographer, I have to think like a dog. I’m always surprised at the number of pet owners who are surprised at this! For example, if you’re a dog, and (like most dogs) you don’t understand electricity and how humans have the power to harness it, then my off-camera flash can look a lot like lightning. For some dogs who are scared of lightning, this is a terrible thing, which is why I try to always be ready with Plan B where lighting is concerned.

In Dog World, your dog sees one thing: what he’s interested in at the time. It’s part of the beauty of dogs, that they can put such intense focus on the thing that fascinates them at any given time.

So you’re standing in your front yard with your very good dog! And all of a sudden she starts running towards me, or a squirrel, chipmunk, our neighborhood fox, or a small child.

At that point, your dog is out of your control. Something else has hooked her attention. What she may not see is the car speeding towards her. I live in dread of the day when the two things that often occur during my runs occur simultaneously: a careless driver and a loose dog.

The solution to this is to keep your dog secure. In my neighborhood there seems to be a particularly bad problem with dogs running loose, given that we are bordered on north, south, east and west by four very busy streets, all less than a mile and a half away (a very short run for these descendants of wolves we love so much!)

I know that in Arkansas, a good many people live in the country, where you may have acres and acres for your dog to run, but in the middle of Little Rock, it’s really scary to think about a dog being loose. And, with all the tick fever we have been having, let alone other hazards like hunters and wild animals, even for country folks it’s never a bad idea to keep your dog’s roaming territory a bit limited.

Secure means this: behind a gate, inside, or on a leash (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NO CHAINS!!! That’s a whole different, very furious blog post.) No matter how good your dog is, he/she is still a dog and can easily get distracted.

And for the truly loose dogs, those little sneaky escape artists (I have one) I will be the person who lovingly brings them home and calls the number on their tag and waits with them and (if they need it) comforts them until you get there! All I want is for your best buddy to be safe and secure so y’all can be buddies for a long, long time!


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