My Turn: The human element in a mixed-species environment
KINGS BEACH, Calif. andamp;#8212; I encountered two dogs running down the middle of the highway today. Even though I was already late for an appointment, I had to stop. I was able to get both dogs into a local business where I asked if they wouldnandamp;#8217;t mind holding the dogs and calling animal control. The girl assured me it would be no problem. After my meeting I went back to the business where Iandamp;#8217;d left the dogs to check on their status. I was informed that the boss did call animal control but being that the office was closed for the day, he let them go andamp;#8212; right back out onto the highway.Seeing dogs running loose is not uncommon in Tahoe. There are those of the old Tahoe culture who let the dog out the front door in the morning and allow them to run andamp;#8220;freeandamp;#8221; all day. I grew up here and thatandamp;#8217;s what our family did. However, humans have come such a long way this past decade in learning more about canine behavior that there is no logical reason why this practice should not be abolished. Then there are the accidental reasons why dogs might be running loose and these two dogs had the look like they had been on the run for a while and werenandamp;#8217;t just out for a neighborhood stroll. There is a definite difference in the actions of a andamp;#8220;lostandamp;#8221; dog and one used to roaming.When a dog is lost they are often wild-eyed, ears pinned back and running on instinct andamp;#8212; they need to keep moving. They are either wary and hard to catch or are grateful that someone is taking over the decision making and giving them some sort of direction. That was the case with the two today. They were visibly relieved that someone was stepping in and giving them guidance, only to be set loose again to fend for themselves.I am one of those who view my dogs as members of my family. Not everyone sees pets in this light, nor does everyone like dogs, and I respect that. What a great thing to live in a country where we can have differing points of view. But what makes a true community is going that extra step in trying to see things in anotherandamp;#8217;s way. What I hope the man who let the dogs loose comes to understand is the human element. These dogs werenandamp;#8217;t strays; they are loved by someone who would miss them to the depths of their soul if they didnandamp;#8217;t make it home. I know I would.Katie Mize, a Kings Beach resident, is a certified instructor through Assistance Dogs International-and a former Graduate Program Manager at Canine Companions-for Independence and trainer-with Guide Dogs for the Blind.