Prior to our house becoming a “dog” house, my sympathy for leash bearers with bipeds trailing behind them was not great. I thought, “Poor doggie. He is locked up all day. He just wants a little time to be free and do what God made him to do.” As I continue to give our dog walks (I told my son I am Plan B or C. He is Plan A.), I do notice more dog habits and how the relationship of those on both ends of the leash might possibly be misunderstood.
The dog wants a firm hand. It is his job to attempt to dictate the speed of the walk and the distraction along the way. If he sees and/or smells a squirrel, it is the job of the biped to prevent the dog from dragging him off the paved sidewalk and into the bushes. If a small child or a trusting adult, says, “What a beautiful dog! Can I pet him?”, it is the bipeds job to determine on whether this is presently or EVER a good idea. If in the case of our dog, the dog likes to walk with a “pull toy” in their mouth, it is the bipeds job to pick up the toy when it is dropped. Our choice, however, is whether we accommodate the dog’s side glance with mouth open as a valid invitation to “help” us carry the toy yet again. After playing the game multiple times within a 100 yard stretch, the toy seems to fit in our hands better than it fits in his mouth.
The biped wants to take a walk without the leash wearing calluses on their hands. When a standard leash is WAY to long to trust the quadruped with the range it permits, the leash is wrapped multiple times around the bipeds hand/wrist/arm/hand-of-other-arm. As the walking pace is set, there is a constant need to “encourage” the dog to not smell all scents to their source. On the occasion (these occasions are many) when the dog needs to relieve himself, the biped finds his leash tugging is ignored. The pause is brief unless the “little green bag” needs pulled out to gather the pieces of fertilizer awarded to the yard of one of our neighbors. The biped does feel varying levels of guilt as the quadruped attempts to outrun the leash. As the leash tightens on the dog’s neck, biped can walk/run faster to prevent the neck from being restricted OR they can choose not to look down and see the leash’s tauntness. (Alternatively, the collar could be swapped for more of a harness style. It would allow the tauntness of the leash to force the dog to turn to the side instead of being allowed to forge ahead while fighting for leash-restricted air.)
While we waited many years to get a dog and the accompanying leash, I have been surprised how the family has taken to the challenge. The walks may be shorter than the dog desires and less frequent than we believe appropriate. The quadruped may give us the more mature puppy dog eyes when we fail to properly attend to his needs in the time frame he prefers. The creature on the other side of the leash has become yet another instrument God has used to help us learn the lessons better experienced than read.