I’ve never really been a fan of retractable leashes. It always seemed to me that it reduced the amount of control one had over their dog while walking them. For a long time I refused to even consider buying one.
Then, in 2013 we moved to Arizona. The landscape surrounding our house is the typical decorative stone. Our fur-kids understandably do not care to walk on it – let alone do their business. So, down at the end of our street is a lovely little park with rolling lush green grass. A little piece of heaven according to Thomas and Teegan!
After a few visits though, we found that it was hard to contain the exuberance the fur-kids felt about the park. We’d be half way there and they were already pulling on the leashes like sled-dogs to get to that grass. And, when they set paws on it, well! They’d wanted so much to run and frolic. Yes, frolic. But, unfortunately running and frolicking just wasn’t in the cards with the traditional harness and leash in which they were strapped.
So, after a little (very little) thought, I decided to purchase retractable leashes and give them a try.
Well, it was immediately evident on the first trip to the park with the fur-kids sporting their new retractable leashes that they were going to like them. And, quite frankly, us too. About 5 paces before the edge of the park, we’d unlock the leash and they could run toward the grass with high anticipation of that lush carpet under their toes and we could maintain our normal pace. Once they stopped for their first pee, we’d have time to catch up and give them another 16 feet to run again.
But, even though it’s been a real treat for our fur-kids, these retractable leashes have their dangerous downsides. User error and lack of common sense attributes to the problems and accidents encountered using these devices. And I’m proof.
The “Brats” (as I lovingly call them) love to visit and naturally become excited when we encounter other fur-kids. While standing with them extended the length of their leashes, a couple with a shi-tzu mix began walking toward us. Before I had a chance to “rein in” my two, they began running in circles of excitement at the anticipation of meeting up with a new buddy. Within seconds I had the thin steel lines of the leashes wrapped around my calves. Fortunately, the couple realized the “jam” I was in and walked away so my two calmed down. Once I was able to get myself untangled from the lines and retract them into a controllable length, we were able to meet up with this new friend.
As a result of my carelessness, I sustained serious bruising on my calves. I should have been more aware of the surroundings and shortened up the leashes to a “manageable” length long before Thomas and Teegan had a chance to tie me up as they did. I was extremely lucky that I was only bruised; the sharp steel cord used in these leashes could have easily sliced my calves had it been strung any tighter!
Over the years since the retractable leash came on the market, I have read many horror stories of people who have suffered serious, even life-altering injuries and always maintained I’d never own one myself. Reportedly, people have lost fingers and thumbs, and have been cut seriously by the sharp steel cord. Worse, dogs have been injured, maimed, and even killed due to improper use of the leash. Lately, I have seen residents in our area “walking” their pooches from their golf carts and bicycles using these leashes. Tragedy waiting to happen!
Common sense and awareness to the surroundings is of the utmost importance and is key when using a retractable leash. In “certain circumstances” we’ll continue to use them because the fur-kids have a sense of freedom to run and play but, without a doubt, we’ll exercise far more caution while we have them on the other end.