I learned what could have been a devastatingly difficult lesson this morning. Snick’s leash broke while we were out for our morning walk. He was running at the time (he does this weird “run away from it” thing after he poops) and the end hardware attached to his collar just POPPED out of the hardware piece sewn into the leash. You know the part where it swivels? Just popped right out! I guess the metal must have worn over time.
There are few things quite as frightening as seeing your heart dog running away from you on a midtown Manhattan sidewalk during the morning rush hour!
Luckily, I’ve done some training in case the leash ever broke or I dropped it. I keep him close to me and then suddenly release all but the end handle of the leash so it feels suddenly loose. Then I drop to the ground, call him, and give him big rewards for returning. I think that’s what brought him back to me this morning because shortly after it popped, he put the brakes on and turned back towards me, instead of continuing to run. He stopped to say hello to two pedestrians, who – even though I asked nicely and quite desperately for them to grab him – just looked at me, looked at him, and kept walking. Then I started calling him and he trotted back to me and started playing the “dancing just out of reach” game. I chose my moment carefully and managed to lunge for him and grab his collar. At most, he got about 50 feet from me and he never left the sidewalk, but I think my heartbeat and breathing completely stopped from the time the leash broke until the time I had my hands on him again. When I caught him, I just sat down on the sidewalk until I had recovered enough to stand up again.
I learned two things:
- Check equipment regularly for wear and tear!!!
- Training him would work better if I had learned too. He did the right thing (turned and came back), but I DID NOT. I did not drop to the ground and cheerfully call him with “Snickers, Come,” and then give him a handful of treats. I totally panicked and froze and didn’t even reward him after I caught him! I need to train MYSELF better.