It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, my cat, Archer, and I were getting ready for a hike in our favourite trail. As part of our routine, I put on a harness and securely clipped the leash on him. After dressing him up for the weather, I grabbed the cat backpack and other hiking essentials, and left with just the two of us.
Upon arrival, the trail was peaceful and quiet! There were few signs of other visitors. Archer was on top of his backpack enjoying the nice breeze, and I could hear the leaves falling and branches creaking. Looking up, I saw squirrels hopping back and forth chasing each other in a game of tag.
This was the perfect day to be hiking with Archer, very few people, minimal urban noises, and beautiful scenery everywhere. Although Archer doesn’t mind strangers on the trail, it’s always easier when we have a calm and quiet hike.
As we walked deeper into the park, there were fewer people in sight, trees were more densely populated, and the bushes ran along the edges of the trail. Of course, as usual, something would catch Archer’s attention! He jumped down from his cat backpack, and decided to lead the way of exploration.
His tail was perking up and waving slowly to indicate his happiness, and his eyes were sparkling like a diamond full of curiosity. He continued to sniff plants, jump on logs, and rotate his ears towards the sounds. Eventually, he led me deeper into the woods away from trail.
What a great day to be here! We both really needed that.
SWOOOSH! I heard something swishing far away.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, from the corner of my eye, I saw a big dog running towards us!
Since I was not sure whether the dog had the intention of coming towards Archer, my mind immediately went on defensive mode expecting the worst-case scenario. Knowing all the incidents that had happened with off leash dogs in the cat adventuring community, I knew that I had to do MY BEST to protect Archer in this situation.
My heart started pounding fast but I knew my priority is to make sure Archer is safe. I quickly picked him up and placed him safely behind me on top of his cat backpack. Then, I stood there waiting for the dog’s next move.
The dog kept running towards us and just a couple of feet away, circling back and forth us wagging his tail. Since Archer would not be comfortable with a dog dashing out of nowhere, I had to make sure that he stayed on his backpack and did not attempt to jump off.
As I turned my head towards Archer, he was standing on the backpack with his tail fluffed up and body slightly shaken. He had never encountered a dog running towards him at such a speed!
I just froze on the spot, helpless, waiting for the dog owner to recall his/her dog … but there was no sight of him/her …
It felt like an eternity, but luckily the dog eventually ran back to its owner on the trail. I followed the dog, and wanted to have a word with the owner. Although I’ve never been too keen with conflicts in my life, I understood that it was important for me to bring this up to the dog owner to avoid similar incidents in the future.
I built up the courage in my mind, and bravely spoke up.
“Hi there! I think you should put your dog on a leash. He ran towards my cat, Archer, and he’s afraid of dogs.” I politely told the dog owner and explained the situation.
To my surprise, he had another dog who was also off leash running back and forth the paved path. He looked at me blankly with no indication of an apology or remorse. I proceeded to explain, “Archer may or may not get hurt or run away.”
Again, he just looked at me with no facial expressions. Oh boy! I had to build the confidence to speak to him about this, but he had no reaction to it!
“Okay! Let’s go!” That was all he said, walking away from us with his two off leash dogs.
Wow! I was utterly disappointed in the situation that a pet owner would be so inconsiderate and careless of his dogs’ and others’ safety.
My heart sank as he walked away knowing how much of a struggle it has been for all of us in the cat adventuring community, having to face off leash dogs and feeling completely helpless.
As Archer and I continued our adventure in the trail, we encountered another pet owner who had three off leash dogs. Fortunately, when I spoke up about the danger of off leash dogs in public areas, the pet owner was open to listening and held her dogs back.
After witnessing the two incidents, I felt that it was ever more important to raise awareness of the danger of off leash dogs to all pet owners.
As a pet owner for DOGS or CATS, we all have the responsibility of our pets’ lives and the lives of others who are near them.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep in mind that while we are outside, we are FULLY responsible for the safety of everyone around us who may interact with our pets. Even though, we could trust that our pets will behave, there can still be incidents where we cannot control their natural instincts.
There have been numerous incidents of off leash dogs attacking cats, which caused a substantial amount of distress and pain for the cats and their owners. The negative consequences of these attacks resulted either the cat running away due to fear or receiving a critical injury which requires hospitalization. These incidents could have been fully avoided, if the dogs were on leash, and the owners were close by to prevent the harm.
Let’s all work together to build a safe community for ALL PETS!
We can educate each other, spread the awareness of leash safety, and support each other as we share the adventuring path together.