A President’s Message

A Momentary Decision

The following article is reprinted from the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (July – Sept. 1997) Newsletter, by Robin Adams, Founder & President, DVGRR

EVEN PRESIDENTS CAN BE STUPID – FROM THE PRESIDENT

In the past several months a number of DVGRR adopted Goldens have been lost, and horribly, one dog was shot.

Thankfully, the dogs had their DVGRR collars on, so when we were called, reuniting them with their respective families was quickly accomplished. One Golden has been lost for almost six months and hopes of ever finding him again are dim.
After each incident, we called to educate the adoptive owner about the dangers of allowing a dog off lead – and to remind the owner our adoption contract requires that the dog always be on lead outdoors as a condition of adoption.
I had never had a dog in my possession who was off lead – until this Spring.
Jim and I were at the beach for the weekend with our dogs (who are not DVGRR program dogs). As you can imagine, being at the human end of the leash was a task, as the dogs were straining to chase the sea gulls and romp in the water.
It was a nice day and the beach was deserted. Since our dogs are trained, I decided to try this “off lead” thing to see what the fascination is about allowing dogs to “run free”. So, we unhooked the leashes from the dogs’ collars.

BIG MISTAKE!!
As soon as the leash unsnapped, all three of them took off, faster than I have ever seen any dog run. I gave commands but the dogs ignored them. I ran in the opposite direction hoping they would chase me – but they continued to run away. THEIR way.
They ran so fast and so far, that in a few minutes I could no longer see them. I was running as fast as I could to try to watch where they were going. My lungs burned, my legs ached and I was crying and telling myself how STUPID I was.
After twenty of the longest minutes of my life, I found some surfers in the water and thankfully, the dogs were playing with them. The dogs suddenly saw me and came running back. They were safe…that time.
Will I ever do it again? Not on their life…and that’s what it is…THEIR LIFE!
The next day we took another walk on the beach. This time, the dogs were on their flexi-leads. They romped, barked and chased the gulls. They came running back to us, barking for us to joining in the fun. Did they notice any difference? I doubt it. But Jim and I did….our dogs were safe. They would NEVER be placed in danger again by our carelessness.

DVGRR put the “no-off-lead” clauses in our adoption contract for the safety of the Goldens. The “no-off-lead” policy also helps us live up to the promises we made to the owners who relinquished their dogs into our care, to be sure the dogs would always be safe.

Goldens are sporting dogs—their instincts are to hunt. If someone wants a dog who can be trusted off lead, a Golden is not a good choice (or any dog is for that matter!).
As I sat on the beach that day, catching my breath and crying, I remembered an incident a few years ago at a Golden Retriever Specialty Show. This was an indoor event and parking was in a multi-story garage.

An owner arrived, got his Golden out of the car and put him on a “sit/stay”. This dog was OTCH, which is an obedience trail champion, the highest level in obedience training – a title that requires more training than most dogs receive in their entire lifetimes.

The owner turned to get some articles out of the car, and the Golden, seeing a bird at his level, broke his sit/stay and leaped for the bird. They were parked on the third level of the garage.

Quick and expensive veterinary care saved the Golden’s life, however, his career died, and his life would never be the same. He went through a great deal of pain and he would no longer be able to participate in the sport that provided him so much fun. This was living (and almost dead) proof that regardless of how well you THINK you know your dog, or how well you THINK he/she is trained, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES!
No one should feel the terror I did at the thought of losing a beloved companion(s). UNLEASHED IS UNLOVED.

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