This morning, after returning home after a medical appointment, I saw something that saddened me greatly: Passing Memorial Park, I saw what had recently been a beloved family pet on the road. The dog was clearly deceased and was a silent witness to what was a violent and fatal impact with a passing vehicle. All I could think of was the shock and grief that his family will be experiencing today, and how this could have been prevented.
Here in Northwest Montana, we enjoy a breathtaking environment and a relaxed way of life. I wouldn't want it any other way. But we must also recognize that we are seeing rapid changes in our town, not the least of which are increases in traffic, distracted driving, and construction. While we all want to enjoy the kind of appropriate off-leash activity we have on the trails, we might want to reconsider this arrangement when we are walking with our dogs here in town. All it takes is an instant in which our pet sees something terribly interesting across the street, and bolts toward it completely unaware of an approaching vehicle.
It is said that judgment is the result of experience. What I saw today has changed my practice of allowing my Labrador(s) to be off-leash in the city or anywhere close to traffic. As a dog guardian, please look within your heart and consider using a leash in areas where dog-vehicle contact is probable.
Dr. Randolph B. Mahoney, Whitefish