Editorial May 2003 Issue

Consider Safety

We’ve all had close calls – but we shouldn’t have.

Pat Miller’s article on safety in this issue got me thinking about a close call my husband and I occasionally joke about, when he almost caused the death of my beloved Border Collie, Rupert – on one of our first dates. “Just think,” I will say to Brian with a rueful smile. “If you had killed my dog that day, we wouldn’t be together now!”

The three of us had gone for a day hike in an area known as Land’s End, in a steep and wooded area near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. We had stopped to eat lunch, perched just feet away from a cliff, hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean. We were talking while Brian ate an apple, when suddenly he cocked his arm to throw the core over the cliff.

I had less than a second to grab for his arm and yell, “DOWN!” to my (unbeknownst to Brian) fetching fool of a dog –who skidded to a halt on his belly, inches from leaping over the cliff. Fortunately for all of us, Rupe’s obedience is every bit as ingrained as his desire to fetch anything that anyone throws anytime, anywhere.

Brian looked kind of white – we both did. He said, shakily, “He . . . he wouldn’t have jumped . . . would he?” I could only nod and pat the earth beside me, as Rupert wiggled back to my side, eyes bright, still ready to fetch.

Why hadn’t he been leashed? Why hadn’t I been holding the leash as we sat there, perched on the cliffs? Well, because Rupert is so smart, and so perfectly well-behaved; he’s often off-leash. But, of course, I never would have imagined that someone might make what I knew to be a “Go get it!” gesture so close to a cliff. It’s only after tragedies, or as in our case, near-disasters, that you think, “What was I thinking?”

In “Better Safe Than Sorry," Training Editor Pat Miller discusses a lot of things to consider regarding dogs and their safety. She even mentions the possibility of a dog leaping off a cliff for a tennis ball – I didn’t add that – so it appears she’s thought about all this more than the average dog owner. Please pay attention to her suggestions for keeping your dog safe.

Jam-packed with info
This issue is exceptionally stuffed with valuable information. There’s a report on a promising new treatment for cancer; an important training article; instructions on how to select safe rawhide chews; an effective remedy for your dog’s spring allergies; and a description of numerous alternative diagnostic techniques that many dog owners have found useful. Last month, I promised we’d have some letters in this issue, but we ran out of room. Our readers’ suggestions for safe airline travel with dogs, as well as some additions to our list of healthy dog treats, will appear next month.

-Nancy Kerns

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