Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Recall-A Close Call and A Lesson Learned

Last weekend was gorgeous here in central Indiana. Neeko has always adored swimming, while Bruce only tolerates it. Faolan has never experienced it with us, because shortly after we adopted him last summer, the state issued a warning regarding dogs and rivers, creeks and lakes and reservoirs, because of a fungus related to the drought we experienced. On Sunday, I decided to take Faolan to one of our favorite parks, which happens to have a nice, large creek that is a nice hike through some woods to get to. While there, he got to say hi to lots of people, which he loves. He made a friend, a cute little white Siberian Husky puppy named Evie.

 Both Evie and Faolan found this mud puddle irresistible.
Faolan LOVED the water.  He splashed, and dunked his head.  He got the zoomies each time his paws touched it. Had a great time playing in it.  I had him on a 30 foot training leash, but while Evie and her family were around, I held it to 10-15 feet, to prevent tripping people and leash tangles.  He was so exuberant while in the water that I was unable to take any pictures of him in the water.
Little boy, looking all cute.


I'm ready to go back in!!
Eventually, Evie and her family continued on, so I gave Faolan a bit more leash.  He ran into the water, and once again got the zoomies, racing around like the happiest dog on the planet, in and out of the water.
Then, the unthinkable happened.  His collar broke.  He was off like a streak.  I took off after him, through the woods, running as fast as I could, and screaming his name.  I sprinted for what I guesstimate was nearly a quarter mile.  I could no longer see him, and was crying, so I slowed down.  I was certain he was gone, and was so upset I thought I was going to vomit.  Then, ahead and out of my sight, I heard someone yelling, "We have him!  We have your dog!"  I jogged to where they were, and there was a lady with three kids and a dog hiking in the woods.  Faolan had stopped to say hi to them and their dog. 
The collar is double layer leather, with the top layer secured via stitching and rivets.  The D-ring was positioned between the layers secured with stitches.  The top layer became separated, and that is how it broke.  The bottom layer was still secure, and that is how this lady grabbed him.
Still crying, I thanked her profusely, and Faolan and I walked back to the creek bank where I had left my backpack, wallet, phone, camera and long and short leashes.  We then made our way back to the car.
Unfortunately, none of my dogs have reliable recall, which is why we live by the law of the leash.  It's not that I haven't tried, because I have, with all three.  This seems to be common in northern breeds and wolfdogs, though there are some who have excellent recall, and are therefor excellent off-leash.  I realize this will never be the case with my dogs.
I do not feel this makes me and irresponsible dog-owner, my dogs having no recall.  I am responsible enough to realize it, and keep them leashed/contained at all times for their safety.
A valuable lesson was learned.  I need to regularly inspect my dogs' gear, particularly if we are going on some sort of adventure or excursion.


  1. Evie looks a lot like Lightning. Hard to tell for sure, but she looks like she might be bi-eyed just like he is.

    Oh yes, that must have been so scary for you when Faolan got loose. Mom says we would all just run and run and run - so we too are always on leash away from our yard. Mom uses choke collars on us, not to choke us but because she knows they are not likely to break.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  2. Ma was almost in tears reading your experience! I, too, have no recall (well, out of my yard ~ in my yard, I come right away, out..just too many interesting things to distract me.). And, Ma too, has tried to train me with the leash, treaties, etc., etc....
    Ma also even has two collars on me cause I am a bit of a collar-Houdini. I have even gotten my leash to release from my collar THREE times!! And these were not just your standard spring connections, these were heavy duty 'your dog cannot get out of this' leash connections!! I accepted the challenge...and won. Much to my Ma's shagrin. So, when I go out where I might get excited, Ma has to put on a locking carabineer to my harness and leash.
    You are NOT irresponsible. We learn from our mistakes (collar failure, leash release, etc.), and move on.
    No dog is perfect. No owner is perfect. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. We do our best. That is all you can do.
    Thanks for the post. I did make my Ma feel lots better! BOL

  3. Oh how scary! You are not irresponsible. When MOM first adopted me a couple months afterwards we were fishing high in the mountains. I was just enjoying everything...then.... I saw 3 deer and I was off like a shot up the side of the steep mountain side. MOM's heart sunk and felt so helpless. Worry, tears, and fear engulfed her. As at that point all she could do was watch as I disappeared. But 15 minutes later I came running back. And I was met by a MOM who dropped to her knees and hugs=ed and squeezed me.

  4. Freaky... That's why I won't use that style of collar/D ring with my dogs. I'm getting custom leather collars and leashes made that are stronger than the traditional style for that very reason.

  5. Glad everything turned out ok. As pet parents, we have so much to worry about and many responsibilities. Something like this can so easily be overlooked! Naughty Faolan! I hope you don't beat yourself up about this because it could happen to anyone. I give you so much credit too. You do everything correctly, leashing dogs you know are not great with recall (and despite what some snotty dog owners might say, not every dog is capable of having excellent recall....*points to Dozer the mastiff*). It was just dumb luck.

  6. So glad Faolan had a great time at the creek and even more glad that this story had a happy ending! You're by no means an irresponsible dog. This is just a learning experience :)

    I've walked my Beamer off-leash since he was a puppy, so he's pretty good with recall. If he doesn't listen to me, I pretend to walk away and he comes running after me. He knows better than to cross the road without my permission.

    Once, I had Beamer off-leash and our neighbour from across the street was packing his car for his son's hockey practice. Their maltese spotted Beamer from their driveway and ran across the street, sans leash. He was literally an inch away from getting hit by a mini van. Leashes are so important if dogs have no recall!


Thanks for the howls!!