By Josie Love of Colorado (USA)
I often walk my dogs past one of the neighborís homes where three dogs live on quite short chains. The dogs are for guarding the property and when a person approaches the gate, they bark quite ferociously. They are doing their job quite well, but I had never seen them off the chain. Though they appear to be in good shape, with protection from the weather and enough food, I know they are depressed and downtrodden with their dreary existence.
I made a promise to myself to one day get them a bit of freedom, and I gradually began talking to the neighbors and befriending them. After a while, I started bringing the dogs small treats and some blankets and trying to get to know them. One of the dogs seemed particularly sad. A large dog, he was loud and a bit frightening. One day, after a discussion with the neighbor about walking my own dogs, I suggested that maybe I could walk one of his one day. To my surprise, he agreed.
The Littlest One Didn’t Know How to Walk
I started with the smallest one. When I first took her off the chain and onto the longest lead I could find, she didn’t know what to do. She began by walking in circles as she had on the chain. We walked for a while, and every few feet she would stop, jump up on my leg and lick my hand. She was so grateful. The next time, I took two at once. You could see in their eyes how much they appreciated it. I finally managed the large one. He was scary at first, jumping up at me, and I thought he was going to bite me a few times, but he just gets over-excited and tries to nip me. With the large one, itís not a walk, we have to run for a while to get rid of the excess energy that he builds up from being restrained 24 hours a day.
I make a point of walking them once a week for an hour each time. We go to a stream for a swim, and walk through a field for about three miles. Itís time consuming, and sometimes inconvenient, but I believe it is the most appreciated thing that I do every week. Now, when I go into their yard, they donít bark. Instead they start to cry. They are not the mean guard dogs that they appear to be. They are just lonely animals with little social contact, who have nothing to do but bark.
Is A Chained Dog Waiting for You to Help?
The animal protection laws here allow the tethering of dogs without restriction. They can be tied up on a short chain for their whole life, as long as they have food, water and shelter. Dogs need so much more than this. If you are reading this and know of a neighborhood dog who lives on a chain, perhaps you too can begin taking steps to improve a very sad life. †Do it with kindness in your heart and know that any initial fear you may have may soon be replaced with a tremendous sense of relief for animals who have never been able to use those beautiful bodies that were born to run.
How You Can Help
Dogs Deserve Better is an organization devoted to ending the practice of permanent dog chaining. †They offer informative and sensitive brochures, in both English and Spanish, that can be mailed or delivered to people who keep dogs on chains. You may see information about ordering the brochures here. †Or click here to see before & after photos of some of the dogs who have been unchained.