On the trail: Got leashes? | AspenTimes.com

On the trail: Got leashes?

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

I have never been a dog owner, and I had never really grown fond of dogs until this last year, as I’ve been taking care of a husky. I run with him most mornings, and we’ve gotten to be friends.

We go out early because the husky has been known to be aggressive toward other dogs, though never other people. He’s an alpha, not neutered and has earned a nickname that starts with “Tireless.”

For those reasons, but also because he also could cover 30 or 40 miles in a day without blinking, and because it’s the law, I have never taken him off leash.

That’s not the norm, however, on the Rio Grande Trail, where most dogs I encounter are off-leash. The same, unfortunately, is true of most trails in the area. I encountered off-leash dogs in the Maroon Bells/ Snowmass Wilderness just last weekend.

Dog owners know that dogs affect wildlife and off-leash dogs can often harm or kill wildlife. But beyond the simple aspects of respecting surroundings, walking a dog off leash sucks for me.

Perhaps my worst encounter in the last year was with two off-leash Dobermans that attacked the husky early one morning.

The biggest problem, however, are the dog owners who believe their dogs are “friendly” and therefore no threat to anyone or anything. All too often, I have seen these dogs nip or bark at the husky as we struggle to get past them on a trail.

It’s a passionate subject because people feel so connected to their pets. But I’m still confused as to why people think they have to right to walk a dog without a leash. Beyond being against the law and dangerous to wildlife, it intrudes on everyone’s right to walk on a trail unmolested and unafraid.