Friday, October 16, 2009

Pinch and prong on dark nights and lonely places

As to pinch and prong collars and the like, they strike me as cruel and unusual punishment. On the one hand owners will coddle dogs in a way I never would, and on the other they will take them on walks with portable iron-maidens affixed to their throats.

Out in the real dog world, the world they are most comfortable with, such collars would be counterproductive. If my Ridgeback girls are going to engage in their favorite sport, chasing rabbits (no lions being present in my neighborhood), then pinch or prong collars would be a decided handicap.

Also, on days when rabbits are hiding out and we’re just walking along, if some kids on dirt bikes come rushing at us, and I tell the girls to “stay out of the way,” they do. They had better because chances are I will be too far away to be able to give them anything other than verbal advice.

And if there are feral dogs growling and gnashing their teeth from a nearby copse and I say “leave them alone,” they do. Lest anyone think that they would have left them alone anyway, out of fear, on one occasion after having them “leave them alone” I imagined that what we encountered might not be feral dogs but faithful dogs guarding their master after he had a heart attack; so on the way back I decided to check things out. This time I told the girls, “come on” and marched toward the feral dogs. The girls went out around me with enthusiasm and the largest of the feral dogs ran away. The smaller one stayed to guard a raccoon carcass.

Of course if I am walking the girls in town limits where a leash law is in effect, I have leashes on them. I would anyway because of the cars dashing by without regard for pedestrians whether canine or human. But even then, the leashes aren’t always that useful. Take the other night for example, we were walking down a dark unlighted road adjacent to a racing stable. It was about 23:00. No cars passed us while we were there and not even the horses were stirring. On the way back the girls perked their heads up and I saw someone walking toward us on the other side of the road. Then I saw that he had a dog. The dog seemed just a few feet in front of him but when the dog saw the girls he dashed across the street toward them.

Now I might have turned the girls loose to defend themselves, in fact I should have, but I expected the dog’s owner to take some action. When he didn’t I yelled in stentorian tones that would have made my drill instructor proud, “hey meathead! How about calling off your dog.”

With a bit of a whine in his voice, the fellow yelled back, “it’s not my dog."

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