Sunday, 16 December 2018
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Leash debate isn’t as difficult as being presented

Elected officials are again trying to conjure a way of belling the cats and leashing the dogs (News-Post, Nov. 11), I have experienced many such debates over 53 years. It is not as difficult as usually presented. But first my credentials for saying so.

Like many youngsters, I had a few dogs, notably training a beagle to obedience. (Beagles are stubborn, and it’s not easy to gain their attention, let alone obedience.) As an undergraduate, I worked as a vet tech.

A few years after we were married and had two children, I told my wife it was time to get a dog. She never had one and was terrified. Thus started 43 years of joy and the Hillsboro or Oz line of Labrador retrievers. All our dogs were named for characters in the Frank Baum Oz books. We nurtured nine litters and produced six champions, including Bermuda Canadian American Champion Hillsboro Wizard of Oz, who still holds the record for most best in show wins (10) for a black Lab. (His sire, who was yellow, gained 11.) For many years, we lived with four or five adult dogs. From time to time, we shared our experiences at hearings before county, city and village councils, usually with great success. My wife helped train new dog wardens when we lived in Rockville until 21 years ago when we came to Frederick.

Raising dogs is much like raising children: They all need love, attention and rules. Cats are not the same. The idea of requiring a leash on a cat is ludicrous. We had a neighbor in our condo who had two 18-year-old cats. Occasionally they let them out of their ground-floor condo to sniff around the bushes. Some other neighbors panicked, had conniptions. A house cat wants to stay in the house and use a litter box; other cats, especially if they are not declawed or neutered, will make trouble.

After a hearing on leash laws when in Rockville, the mayor and council created a citizen task force to consider new wording because the draft they had produced was laughable. My late wife was appointed vice chair of the task force and in discussion at dinner one night, we solved the leash law problem. Frederick can make a phone call and get a copy of the law. In essence: If a dog has earned a CD (companion dog) or CDX award from the American Kennel Club, the dog need not be leashed when with its handler. Other dogs (and owners) can have the same privilege if it they pass a test administered by the animal warden. The Rockville law received much attention from municipalities across the country.

I confess. When our last dog was old, sometimes I would walk him without a leash. He stayed near me because I told him so. When I saw another dog walker come down the path, I would tell mine to heel, sit and stay. And he did.

Dogs are the only true love that money can buy.

Harvey Alter


The Bark Box

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