Release the hounds! But then a friendly police officer took the time to explain why leash laws exist. Not only to protect others but also my dog and me.

dog, leash
My dog, today, Gezi spends much of her time off-leash but sometimes it’s a necessity

Many years ago, I took my cousin Adrian and dog Haiku to Venice beach, California, so that my cousin could skateboard at a new skatepark there and so that Haiku, a labrador, could do what she loved, swim and play and run in the sea. 

Lucky for us, and my wallet, the day was overcast and cold; otherwise it may have gone very differently.  

Haiku was a water dog and had been with me on multiple cross country trips, was known in the surf line-up at my local break in NY, and spent most of her life off a leash.  She was smart for a dog and would walk next to me unless we were on a trail or at the beach.  Then she would go off on her own leashless, only needing a whistle to about-face and come lumbering back.

There we were, Venice Beach, California, at the skatepark.  My cousin was doing his thing. I was watching, and Haiku was sniffing this and that.  Then the police rolled up and asked me to leash my dog.  I said no problem and complied.

But just as they were about to leave, I asked why?  There’s nobody here, so what’s the problem as long as I pick up after my dog.  I have a bag.

The police officer explained that the leash laws were there to protect my dog and me.  As I said before, the day was overcast and cold.  Not your typical sunny California day.  I think he was bored because the beach was so quiet, so he took the time to explain why leash laws exist, and it’s why I carry a leash wherever I go.

leash, dog, pet
A dog can still have fun on a leash, and if something happens, it’s easier to grab the leash than the dog
Photo by Aaron Clinard at Unsplash
  • There are those who are deathly afraid of dogs
  • There are people who don’t know how to interact with dogs 
  • There are those who want to do harm to dogs.  Feed them food that will kill them or make them sick
  • There are those who come to public places looking for nice looking dogs to steal
  • There are those who bring their fighting dogs looking for a fight
  • To protect other living creatures from the exploratory or destructive nature of a dog

The first I guess I had known but didn’t understand how someone could be afraid of a dog, but then he explained number two; it made sense.  

Like anything, there is a language and skills that go along with speaking to dogs.  If you know dog language, there’s usually nothing to fear.  Just like humans, there are just crazy dogs.

The last point made sense.  Some habitats just can’t take the wear and tear of dogs running rampant, especially in arid environments that are fragile and take many moons to repair themselves.

But the middle reasons for the leash laws were new information to me, and I clearly understood that leash laws are not just there to protect those fearful of dogs from dogs but to protect dogs from those who want to harm them.

In the end, Haiku made it to the ripe old dog age of 13 with only one dog fight and only one leash warning.  She did get into trouble for other things like jumping over an 8ft fence to find her way to the local restaurant only to get dog arrested, but that’s a story for another day.


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