I’m overjoyed that Murphy the Golden Retriever survived her ordeal in the wilderness and has been reunited with her family. As a dog mom and dog trainer I can well imagine the heartbreak experienced by the Braun family. I give them full credit for their heroic efforts to find their beloved family member.
What follows is not at all intended as a judgement or criticism of the Braun’s, but the story triggered a longstanding concern of mine.
I shudder when I see unleashed dogs on hiking trails. Dogs are dogs. As Murphy did, they can respond in a heartbeat to an environmental stimulus such as a gunshot, a running deer, a scampering squirrel or an enticing scent. Those responses are instinctive and can easily override even years of training and bonding with their human family.
Murphy is lucky that she was big enough, fast enough or wary enough not to become a mountain lion or bear’s dinner. She was also lucky that she somehow managed to scrounge enough food to keep herself alive, and that it was a mild winter. Most dogs would not be so lucky!
Folks if you cannot manage your dogs on a leash or a long line, please leave them home when you go camping or hiking. You can have plenty of far safer fun playing fetch, tug or chase in your yard. Your dog can get his exploration fix on neighborhood walks. I take mine on a long line so I can periodically release him from his “polite walking” to “go sniff” in appropriate areas. You can take an obedience, rally or agility class and both of you will get mental and physical exercise.
Your dog depends on you to keep him safe. Please make that a priority.
MARY LOU GILES