Most people follow the rules, but not everybody gets it when it comes to walking the dog.

I'm Definitely A Dog Lover

I'm truly not a grumpy old man, but I do wish that people walking their dogs would keep them on a leash. I have always been a dog lover. Dogs are great companions and they give us so much joy --without even trying. There is something special about taking your dog for a walk and watching how happy it is to be outside exploring new sights and smells.

I have a great appreciation for people who take care of their pets with regular vet visits, keeping them groomed, making sure they have plenty of food and water, and taking them out to get some exercise. Taking a dog for a walk is a great health benefit to both the dog and its human and provides great enjoyment for both. But, here's the deal. Dogs being walked need to be on a leash.

I am a regular user of the Colorado Riverfront Trail and I encounter a lot of people walking their dogs. I am happy to say that most people I see have their dog on a leash, but not everybody does - and that's a problem.

Rules and Regulations

For starters, keeping your dog on a leash when out in the public is generally the rule. Grand Junction has dog parks for those who want their dogs to run free. There are some places you can go without having your dog leashed because there are no other people around. That's no problem.

Potential For Problems

Walking a dog on a public trail is another story. There most certainly will be other people and dogs on the trail and having an unleashed dog presents the potential for trouble. How will that unleashed dog respond to a leashed dog on the trail? How will that unleashed dog respond to people on the trail?

Maybe your dog is completely harmless and wouldn't hurt a soul - but I don't know that and when I see an unleashed dog on the trail it makes me feel very uncomfortable. When I go running past that dog I get a little anxiety about it because I don't know that dog's tendencies or temperament.

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews

My Encounter With A Dog

In spite of all the unleashed dogs I have encountered while running on the riverfront trail, I feel lucky and blessed to never have been bitten or attacked by an unleashed dog, although the other day I thought the streak was over.

I was running down the trail and was approaching a man with two unleased dogs on the side of the trail. As I ran past, sure enough, one of the dogs starting barking and running after me. I was just waiting to feel his teeth coming down on my leg. I immediately stopped and waited to see what the dog was going to do. Fortunately, nothing happened. All's well that ends well, but for a few moments I was thinking my bare leg was going to be lunch for a hungry dog - and that is not a pleasant feeling.

Think About Others

The point is, people using the trail should not have to deal with feelings of fear or anxiety because of somebody's unleashed dog. We should be able to use the trail and feel comfortable when doing so. I understand why people may want their dog running free - but a public hiking trail is not the right place for it.

For everyone who walks their dog on a leash, I want to say how much I appreciate that. Thank you for being a responsible dog owner. For those that think the rules don't apply to them and refuse to leash their dog, for the sake of everyone else who is using the trail, please consider changing your ways. It's the right thing to do.

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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

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Gallery Credit: Rachel Cavanaugh


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