Let Go

This past winter I shared a story about my childhood dog Fred. As promised, here is a summertime story about Fred.

I was 8 years old when we adopted Fred, a 2-year-old pointer/beagle mix. Hiking the nearby wooded trails and fields, we chose our own adventures. On these adventures, Freddy was often off leash. Whenever I walked Freddy through our neighborhood, Freddy was on leash.

Freddy walked well on leash except when in hot pursuit of critters. Did I mention he was a pointer/beagle mix? On one hot summer day, I was walking Freddy across the cul-de-sac. All of a sudden he started pulling like a freight train and I took a waterskiing stance. He saw a cat. On the other side of the cul-de-sac, where the cat was headed, past the houses, was a major road. Fearful that Freddy would bolt into the road and get hit by a car, I hung on for dear life. My 8-year-old skinny body ended up falling down and Freddy dragged me on my belly, Indiana Jones-style, across the hot black pavement. I was wearing a pink terry cloth t-shirt and shorts (it was the eighties).

Freddy eventually stopped and I stood up. Painfully, I hobbled home with Freddy in tow. Bloodied and bruised from road rash, my mom drew a bath for me. She asked me why I didn't let go and I dramatically explained how I was saving him from running into the road. "Next time, let go or don't walk him," she said with an amazing combination of sympathy and command as only mothers can do.

Please make sure that your dog is appropriate for your children to handle by themselves. Accidents happen and knees get scraped. Make sure your kids understand to let go as needed. Teach them the proper way to hold a leash. See pictures below. Keep the leash hand at your belly, taking advantage of your core strength.

Wondering how secure this leash grip is? A few winters ago I was walking my current dog when I slipped and fell on black ice. I was holding the leash as in the picture. Even though I fell, that leash stayed in my hand at my belly.

Please review leash handling safety with your children and what to do when they encounter other dogs and critters. Don't be dragged down. Like Elsa says, "Let it go!

Here is a limerick I wrote about Freddy when I was about 9 years old:

I have a dog named Freddy

He's always up and ready

He runs a mile, he's gone a while

Oh Freddy! Oh Freddy! Oh Freddy!

Loop the leash handle over your thumb, don’t wrap the leash around your wrist.

Loop the leash handle over your thumb, don’t wrap the leash around your wrist.

Close your hand. Hold your hand against your belly.

Close your hand. Hold your hand against your belly.