Having just completed our spring event season and now having a few minutes to take stock of the various events and how we fit there and what our plans should be for the future is always an interesting time at the world headquarters. Looking around each event, I had a few flashbacks to my first year of taking Mattie J. Dog, the Bundle of Paws Photography Logo Dog on her walks. I was surprised at the number of pet owners I saw at events using retractable leashes with their dogs.
In our first year with Mattie, as new dog owners, my wife and I made what we thought was an excellent decision to purchase a retractable leash for Mattie. We were sure the convenience of being able to hold the plastic handle grip and control the distance she was away from us would be most conducive to long and happy walks for all involved. We were sure Mattie would like the flexibility of being able to explore and then be brought close when needed.
Boy were we wrong.
Strolling through our local park one night in the rain, Mattie and I startled a rabbit into flight. Honoring her heritage, Mattie took off in pursuit. With the retractable lead in my hand she had room to run in pursuit of the rabbit. Feeling fairly confident she wouldn’t actually catch her quarry, I didn’t lock down the stopper on the lead immediately. It was at that point I learned one more thing rabbits can do that dogs can’t. Rabbits can turn right, on a 90 degree angle, without losing a step or any of their momentum. When faithful dog Mattie tried the same, I heard a loud pop and then she went down in a yelping, howling heap onto the ground. The pop was so loud, that for a minute, I wondered if she had actually been shot by a nearby hunter aiming for the rabbit. As Mattie lay in the grass, howling in pain, in the pouring rain, somewhere in that mess, I kept hearing “You Idiot” in the back of my head, over and over. Carrying her home from our destination as she cried into my shoulder literally like a small child, I vowed never again with the ‘flexi-leads.”
Mattingly, Lab Mix, Bundle of Paws Photography, Robbinsville, NJPet Photography and pet portraits by Bundle of Paws Photography. Copyright Bundle of Paws Photography, LLC, Robbinsville, New Jersey
Since that day, I have become quite the expert on luxating patellas, torn ACL’s, dislocated kneecaps, and various other associated canine knee related injuries.
Since that day Mattie has required 4 separate knee operations, and has sadly become used to my wife or I placing a bag of frozen peas on her swollen knee that first few days she comes home from the vet to help reduce the swelling. Who knew a dog leash could lead to $10,000 in surgical and vet bills?
Since that day, I have never again used a retractable leash. And I never will.
A friend recently shared an article with me further supporting this position with several very well articulated points from a veterinarian they trust. It is worth the read if you want to check it out here.
In the meantime, the only proof I need is the nightly limping and on the bad days, those eyes telling me “tonight you have to carry me upstairs dad” that our girl endures because I used a retractable lead nearly 11 years ago with her.
If there is one thing we love seeing at Bundle of Paws Photography more than cute and happy dogs, it is dogs who are safe and well cared for. Here’s hoping for better luck for you and your furry companions!
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