Tahoe isn’t "beautiful" anymore | SierraSun.com

Tahoe isn’t "beautiful" anymore

Heidi Timinsky
My Turn

After 10 years of living in Tahoe, Tahoe isn’t beautiful to me anymore.-

On Aug. 1, I parked my car at 64 Acres and went down to the picnic table where river floaters launch their boats. I am a nanny and I regularly bring the children I care for there to swim and enjoy time with my dog. This day, though, was different. We didn’t enjoy our day nor do I think we ever will be able to again at that particular spot.-

Around 2 p.m. I heard the loudest crunching slam on Highway 89 followed by a mother screaming to her two children as they rode bikes for a family outing on the bike path. Her screams were so profound. The sounds of a mother wanting to protect her children.

“Keep going. Don’t look. Don’t look back. Oh my God, don’t look,” she screamed.

“Was it a person?” I screamed as my heart pounded.

“No, it was a dog,” someone answered me.

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I was across the river with my own dog and the children, unable to get to the scene.

I did see a group of people in the brush off the highway. They were standing there looking shocked ” understandably. One of the women in the group crossed the highway to hear me better. They were tourists and I yelled directions to the vet.- –

There was the family with young children on the bike path; there were the tourists who were in the car behind the girl’s car who actually hit the dog; and there was me and the children as well as other onlookers. No one will look back on this day and say how beautiful Tahoe was. This all because of the Tahoe dog owners who think because we live in such a “beautiful” place that it’s OK to let their dogs wander.-

I would love to say this is my first experience seeing or hearing a dog get hit by a car and suffer for days and sometimes die. However, this summer isn’t the case. I actually have other spots in Tahoe that aren’t beautiful to me anymore.-

At Sunnyside I’ve seen countless dogs crossing or attempting to cross the highway to get to the lake. I’ve been able to catch some of them and contact their owners, but not all.-

At the entrance to Squaw Valley, I’ve risked my life to get dogs off the highway. My friend’s dog was just hit and left in Tahoe Donner to suffer for 16 hours until she made it home at 2 a.m. with a shattered leg and blood in her eyes.-

It’s become a weekly event for me to see wandering dogs on the highways. The 4-year-old I nanny doesn’t question me anymore when I pull off the highway to coax a strange dog with treats to come to me. Most of the time I cannot get the dogs to come because they’re owner-oriented. Dogs love their owners more than anyone.

As an owner how can you take their precious lives for granted?-

It only takes one time for a dog to be hit by a car and killed or severely injured. It takes only one time for you as a dog owner to ruin the lives of other people, possibly even kill people who swerve to avoid your dog, because you let your dog wander. —

Dog owners must realize there are serious consequences to letting your dogs wander. What are you going to say to a mother who swerved to avoid a dog running across the road and slammed into a tree that injured her precious children?-

I’m not just referring to dog owners who live by the highways. It’s been a hot summer. I’ve lost track of the dog owners I have contacted who have said to me, “Wow, I live 10 miles from the lake and my dog usually stays around the yard.”

The fact that they’re shocked that their bored, unattended, over-heated dog wandered down to the lake saddens me.

I’ve also heard, “My dog is good around cars.” Unless your dog has been through years of guide-dog training, your dog isn’t good around cars.

Letting your dog wander because you think he/she has a better lifestyle is not the case. My precious dog has a tag on her collar that says, “I don’t wander ” CALL NOW” because I’m aware of the dog owners who think it’s great their dogs wander all day while they’re at work. My dog has spent hours sitting in my house or car when it’s cool enough while I’m at work. I always make an effort to take her for a hike when I return home from work.

How could Tahoe even be beautiful to you anymore if it was your dog’s guts strewn across the road when you returned home? It’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe.

Take your dog into the wilderness and let them wander with you present.- Letting your dog wander while you’re out for the day isn’t good for the dog or the loving people in this town who drive the roads on a daily basis.

You’re ruining my days in beautiful Tahoe. Take some time and spend it with your dog away from the highways. By doing this you’ll leave Tahoe beautiful for everyone, especially your dogs that provide you with nothing but unconditional love.-

Heidi Timinsky is a resident of Olympic Valley.