An Open Letter to Maine and New Hampshire Dog Walkers
Dear Dog Walkers,
I want to preface this with the fact that I'm not calling you out on the level that you may or may not love your dog, because ideally if you've either taken the steps to purchase a dog from a breeder, or especially have rescued a dog, you did so because in that massive heart of yours, you had some empty space that little Fido or Fifi could fill. So, ideally, you love your dog -- that's not the point of this letter.
No, the point of this letter is to point out (in a friendly way) that maybe you're doing something without even realizing you're doing it, but I see it a lot while driving up and down roads, most of them pretty busy ones. A lot of what I observe while driving looks like this...
...compared to this...
Do you notice the difference? HINT: It's in the positioning of the dog.
In the first picture, the dog is being walked on the outside of its owner/walker, fully exposing itself to traffic. In the second picture, the dog is positioned on the inside of its family, protecting it from passersby. And I understand one is on a main road and one is on what appears to be a non-drivable road, but that even reinforces the point that in picture #2, the owners are taking extra special precautions with making sure their pup is protected.
Again, this isn't calling out your love for your dog, because if this is you, you're definitely not alone. But I think to my pup Remy or multiple other dogs I've read about, heard about, or seen that can either be spooked by something at the drop of a dime or see a squirrel and take off (or attempting to but being stopped by the leash) trying to chase it. In a split-second, your pup could dash further out into the road and get hit -- and no one wants that.
It's also not just you, though. Drivers need to be aware, too. In fact, just last night I was walking Remy and picking up after him, and while I was bent over a car was coming down our street that I didn't hear until it was pretty close. I looked up to see Remy at the edge of the island of grass we were on, pretty close to the street, and even by calling him and yanking on the leash, he stayed put. And so did the car -- hugging the right side of the road and coming within a couple of feet of him without a care in the world.
Just further proof that anything can happen at any second. But, we, as dog owners, can at least do our part to try and keep our pups safe from terrible drivers or split-second jumps toward a nearby chipmunk by keeping them on the inside of us while we're walking them -- much in the same way gentlemen back in the day would refuse to let their partner walk on the outside of the sidewalk in order to protect them.
Our pups deserve that kind of love and protection, too.