A World Unleashed

 In Annie, Challenging The Status Quo, Facing Reality, Repairing the World

Sure, your dog doesn’t have to use a leash. It’s just a rule for the masses. Besides, whoever made it up doesn’t understand that dogs need to run free.
It always amazes me that we have altered the “natural order” of things to the point that all of creation has been changed, even mutated, but yet we still expect that things are in their natural state. We expect that our canine companions will do no harm if they are left to their own devices, even if they have had no formal training.
I once owned horses. I had a mare who foaled. That little mare was glued to her mother’s side, nursing, as we would all expect. But what I hadn’t expected was that the “baby” was still nursing when it was five years old. Oops.
When I asked the veterinarian about it, I thought he was going to drop over from my ignorance. Instead, he calmly explained that the mother left in the wild would have weaned the foal naturally as she would have probably been pregnant again. In captivity—civilization as we know it—we expect animals to do what is natural when we have so altered their environment that nature is no longer natural. The vet explained that it was up to the owner to separate the two after the baby was able to eat solid food.
And back to dogs—our “domesticated” canines—we kind of expect them to figure out how to behave in our civilization on their own. Even though we realize they need exercise, what arrogance allows some of us to turn our critters loose on unsuspecting others just because we don’t want to constrain them?
A friend and I were taking a constitutional on the greenbelt by our houses, having taken my dog on a leash for her exercise. A dog came upon us suddenly, the owner nowhere in sight. Then we see the apparent owner approach, taking her run. The dog was leagues ahead of her. As she passed us, I reminded her there is a leash law. She said thank you without breaking her stride, but they both continued on their merry ways. Some time later as we were heading back home, we saw the dog owner and her charge still running untethered, through lots of people out walking with their dogs on leashes. Everyone else had to move over, restrain their leashed pets to allow her dog to run free. My neighbor informed me that this woman and her loose dog are a familiar sight on the greenbelt.
I wish I could say that such occurrences are uncommon, but just this last week I was at a park helping my granddaughter celebrate her birthday and encountered several loose dogs with the owners just hanging out. At one point there was almost a physical altercation between some of the dogs, right in the midst of a group of young children.
I ask myself what could these dog owners be thinking? Are they just against rules as they endeavor to restrain us and our pets? Have they elevated their animals to the status of family and thus dog rules don’t apply? The best I can come up with is that it is a metaphor for their attitude about life. Is it that they want to be totally unfettered, running loose, not holding back, so they let their animals do it?  Most of us realize that there need to be boundaries even—perhaps especially—for our pets. Boundaries just tell us where our space ends and some one else’s space begins.
It reminds me of parents who won’t restrain their children because they have some vague memory of parents having held them back, which they will never do to their children. These are the kids who are so out of control by the time they hit puberty, they cannot be stopped no matter what they get a notion to do. Aided by bursts of hormones, they are on a self-destruct path—and they don’t mind taking the rest of us with them.
Whatever happened to common sense, and common decency for that matter? Some law makers decided that enough of us couldn’t figure out that it was not right nor fair for us to let our animals run loose, so they made a set of rules to govern the situation. That’s pretty much where all such laws come from. It has been determined that most of us can’t seem to function in a way showing respect for our fellow earthlings, so we have to be governed.
We probably all were required to read The Lord of the Flies in school. The message was pretty pessimistic. When left to our own devices, without the intervention of “grown ups,” we will self-destruct. Please tell me that we are not like those kids who could not seem to do the right thing unless they were made to do so!
Now that’s truly scary. I, for one, do not like to see laws made to govern every breathing moment of our lives, but I despair that we don’t have the decency or respect for others to function in any semblance of harmony unless “the man” threatens us with consequences.
So, come on, lady, don’t make them track you down. Just use the leash like everyone else.


– Shari



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