Little dog tales (part 4) – a nightmare moment.

Peggy has begun to understand the routine in her new home and this includes going on the same walk each morning where she can get used to traffic, (in the distance), barking dogs, tree fellers and a few other walkers with their dogs.  Keeping to the same walk, I can monitor how well she is adapting and coping with the regular sights and sounds of the world, without overwhelming her.

As I have mentioned, walking two dogs together of different sizes can bring its challenges and you can read our other Holidays4Dogs article on this subject which gives tips for handling two different sized dogs on a walk.

To my horror, after I wrote this article which ends on a note of safety, I had the most horrendous experience with Peggy.  On a lovely Sunday afternoon, I decided to pop the two dogs out on our usual quick route, down the common and around the lanes back to our house – this is the only time I walk the two dogs together as the route is short and relatively quiet, so it is a way of getting Peggy used to walking out with Floss, who provides a bit of comfort and confidence to her new housemate.

As we walked along the first lane we were joined by a chap who began walking behind us.  He was an imposing fellow and walked with a heavy foot. This spooked Peggy, who kept twisting around and then lurching forward meaning she was in danger of getting trodden on.  I picked her up with the intention of carrying her rest of the way, as she was clearly un-happy about the situation. That was, until Floss decided she needed a poop a little further on.  I put Peggy down and rummaged around for a pooh bag, but in the confusion Peggy’s lead slipped through my fingers and she bolted up the lane!  I was horrified.  I will explain more about the lead shortly.

While our lane is generally quiet when it comes to traffic, it is nevertheless well used by neighbours and not all of them drive at a reasonable pace.  I tried calling Peggy to begin with while standing still, but unfortunately a woman in a parked car between me and Peg opened her door to try and catch her.  Peggy is not a fan of cars and so, while she did look for a second as if she might come to me, she quickly changed her mind, turned tail and flew up the lane at a rate of knots; looking for all the world like a deflated balloon blowing in a gale; (complete with dangling string).  I ran after her a little way and diverted onto the common below the lane in an attempt to direct her off the road, by calling her in an excited tone. Unfortunately, she kept on running.

By this time, I was absolutely terrified I would witness Peg being run over, but as luck would have it I spotted some neighbours getting out of their car a little way ahead and called for them to try and stop the little dog that was now running wild and scared.  Luckily, Peg ran onto the pavement and was just about to squeeze through our garden gate as the neighbour caught up with her and grabbed her lead.  I was shaking almost uncontrollably by now and all I could manage was a garbled thank you before scooping Peg up and ushering her into the house.

This was a silly mistake on my part but these things do unfortunately happen.  The lead I had been using for Peggy was an extremely thin temporary one, having been unable to find one so far with a billet hook small enough for the loops on her jacket.  This is why it is really important to make sure you have the right equipment for walking – detailed in our Holidays4Dogs article; ‘walking two dogs together’!

These things can happen and while I think this is the only time it has happened to me in 30 years of dog owning, it is clearly not impossible, especially if you are dealing with a nervous dog, or puppy.  The main thing to try and do if this ever happens is to stay calm.  Initially, I managed to do this, knowing that if I immediately gave chase, Peg would just keep running and no matter how small the dog, they can still outrun a person; (especially a portly one, like me!).

If possible, stand still and try and call your dog; bend down, wave your arms and call their name in a delighted tone; even better and if it is safe to do so, run in the opposite direction. For me, this wasn’t an option as we were on a narrow lane with potential traffic.  If there is anyone nearby ask for help.  When you do get your dog back, (thankfully this is usually the case) never reprimand him for running loose, but thank your lucky stars the dog is safe and make sure you are more careful next time.

I was reluctant to walk Peggy along the lane again for several days and I know I have a long road ahead, (no pun intended!) with training Peggy to be comfortable out and about, as well as learning the basics of recall, sit and down – all of which will be invaluable for her future safety and my sanity!  Oh, and that thin lead is in the bin – I scoured the local pet shops for a much more suitable lead that I can get a much better grip on!  I also popped a box of chocolates around to the neighbour who, thankfully, had been in the right time at the right place.