My father-in-law’s surgery went as well as could be expected. He survived the actual procedure, now for the long arduous road ahead. My mother-in-law sounds a bit better too, though she’s still struggling with some mysterious type of back pain. This is a bit odd given she’s never had a back problem. But it very well could be related to all the stress and tension they’ve been through recently. Getting Pop ready for this surgery was nothing short of a monumental feat and I think they were at a different doctor’s office nearly every day for the last two weeks. At 82 and 83! God bless them. So now we hope for a complication-free recovery, however lengthy. Pop’s a trooper and I’m sure he’ll do his best to prevail.
In the meantime, as some people know I own a small farm that abuts a Rails-To-Trails hiking Trail. The trail is better known in these parts as the Airline Trail because it’s actually an old abandoned railroad bed that’s been converted into a hiking and biking path. Over the last few years I’ve been seeing more and more people using the Airline trail with their unleashed dogs in tow. Every single day I see hikers, bikers and even cross country skiers on this trail with dogs running yards ahead or behind them. This leaves the dog owner with no chance whatsoever of grabbing and restraining their dog should they happen to encounter equestrians, wildlife and hikers, who often have their own dogs (either leashed or not) and/or young children in tow. This is not only a potentially dangerous hazard for the dogs running loose, but for whomever or whatever might have the misfortune of encountering them on the lam.
Yesterday as I was waiting for an update on the ongoing surgery I happened to glance out my kitchen window and see a hiker’s loose dog bolt through the woods, down an embankment and into my horse pasture. This very large dog then began to chase my two horses so aggressively that the horses were forced to suffer being shocked by the electric fence as they bolted through it. The only good thing about the entire scenario was that the horses didn’t break out of the pasture and run down the road, but instead, they were trapped in a closed off part of our summer pasture. I immediately flew out the front door and with no thought of personal risk or injury to myself, managed to capture the loose dog before it chased after our horses again. Had I not done this who knows what might have happened? (The dog’s owner was calling the dog from up on the trail, but to no avail) What if I hadn’t been home? What if the dog just kept chasing after my horses? What if the horses had gotten loose and run into the road or ran off into Salmon River state forest? What if the dog cornered my horses and they kicked it, severely injuring or even killing it? What if the dog attacked and injured me? What might have happened if my three dogs had been outside at the time? Any of these questions could have come into play in the blink of an eye. Even more frightening, had I chosen to go to the hospital that morning I wouldn’t have been home to witness this horrible scene or to intervene.
As a result of being chased by the unleashed dog and crashing through the fence, Dharla sustained a significant injury around her eye and a deep rope burn wound to her chest. I have no idea who the dog owner was … I quickly delivered the wayward dog to it’s owner, then ran to my barn to get what I needed to catch my horses. By the time I grabbed halters, lead ropes and ran down to the far end of my property to try to quiet and catch my horses (which wasn’t easy since they were both completely terrified) the person and dog had vanished. A “hit and run” if you will, before I’d even had a chance to assess my horses for injuries!
It’s outrageous to think our horses can’t be safe on our own property simply because we live in close proximity to the Airline Trail. And it’s frustrating to think we have no recourse for the injuries my horse has had to endure. Although I’ve sent an Email (with photos) to our town manager and the head of the department that manages the upkeep for the trail (Parks and Rec dept.), I’m going to assume there’s no way to protect our animals or keep this from this happening again. I’ve tried numerous times to get the town to address the problem of loose dogs with trail users, but they just bounce my concerns from one department to another until ultimately, I get frustrated and give up. It’s been a few years since I’ve rattled anyone’s cage. Time to see if anything’s changed.