Little Bertie’s death fills my heart with sorrow, but I also feel sympathy for Mr. Miller and his dogs. I have spent more than 60 years owning dogs, and I would like to offer some helpful suggestions.
As dearly as we love and trust our dogs, natural instincts can still render them unpredictable creatures. Their predatory instincts can reveal themselves in a flash with horrific consequences.
Whenever you walk two dogs together as Mr. Miller did, the pack instinct can easily surface suddenly without warning, catching the owner completely off guard.
May this sorrowful incident remind all of us dog owners that there are sensible precautions we should take when walking our canine companions:
• Concentrate on the walk and remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t be chatting on your cellphone, centered in worry about problems at work, or give in to other distractions.
• Try to keep the dog beside you or just in back of you so that he isn’t taking a protective-of-my-master position. You need to be the leader of the pack. Don’t trust retractable leashes. You cannot control your dog properly on a retractable leash, nor can you protect a small dog that gets too far away from you.
• Furthermore, if you have two very strong dogs, it makes good sense to walk them each separately. If Mr. Miller had been doing that, he might have been able to control the one dog, resulting in an outcome far less tragic.
There is nothing wrong with Incline’s animal laws. It is we dog owners who must take on the responsibility of using sound judgment and common sense.