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PLEASE learn from my terrifying mistake

7511 Views 37 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  xxxxdogdragoness
So, you may have read my post about the new dog who followed me home and has now adopted me. He's been doing well - he still won't let us pet him or touch him if he has a choice, but he's been following me around the house and spending more and more time sitting with us rather than hiding in his crate.

Anyway, I took Jameson to the vet today for his first round of vaccinations and a well-dog visit to get him started. He was totally terrified, but generally well behaved, and it was all fine. We left, went to the car, and as I was trying to get him into the car, something spooked him, he panicked, back away pretty violently, and slipped his collar. I swear, I can still see it happening in slow motion... it was horrible. Rush hour traffic right next to a very busy roadway...

Thank God he ran through the bushes instead of towards the road. Thank God he ran into a totally empty parking lot that was entirely surrounded by fencing with the driveway as the only escape. Thank God he just trotted around in circles rather than continuing to run at top speed. Thank God for cell phones, and for the tiny part of my brain that was functioning rather than panicking and told me to call over to the vet and ask for help.

And, most of all, thank God for my incredible, incredible vet, who came running out with her entire staff, slip leads and a can of food in hand, and particularly for the amazing vet tech who shoved her hand into the can of food and patiently coaxed him into a corner where she could get the lead on him.

I'm not a religious person at all, but I can't stop thanking God that the situation wasn't worse and that we were able to catch him again.

It was terrible and frightening. I've spent the whole evening going over it in my head: I checked his collar before we left. I thought it was tight enough. He rarely even pulls on his leash. I just... wow. I was shaking the whole way home. The first thing I did after dropping him off was get immediately back into the car and drive to the pet store to get him a harness. That dog will never again leave the house without the harness on. Seriously. I'm also getting him microchipped when we go back for our booster shots - I was going to do it today, but I was trying not to overwhelm him with too many scary things poking at him.

(The second thing I did, once I calmed down a bit, was order a giant fruit basket to send the vet office as a thank you.)

Please, PLEASE learn from my mistake - if you have a nervous dog, especially one shaped like Jameson, where his head isn't all that much wider than his neck, walk him with a harness. With all the dogs I've had, I've never needed to use a harness, but I'm used to dogs with much bigger heads and much smaller fear drives. I'll never make that mistake again.

In other news, as the latest addition to the "I don't understand some people" conversation, as I was sitting in the middle of the parking lot, trying not to cry, waiting for the vet to come help me, a man and woman came out of the office building nearby. Jameson walked, not at all threateningly, to about 5 feet away from them. The guy looks and me and says "she's afraid of dogs." I tell him I'm sorry, he's slipped his collar and I'm trying to get him to come back to me. His response? He tells me, "Well, you need to do that" and walks away. Gee, thanks for the advice. Because I know when I see someone on the verge of tears sitting on the dirty ground in the middle of a parking lot, I find it helpful to advise them to do exactly the thing they are trying most desperately to do. It's not like I expected him to stay and help (although I kind of hoped...), but he could at least not rub salt in the wound.

Anyway, that's my story. We're all home safe and sound now, and we're going to go out for a nice, calm walk in our new harness. At least I know now how attached to him I've really become, that I was so upset by it!

(ps - please, please, PLEASE resist the urge to flame me and tell me what a moron I am for not making sure the collar was tighter or not realizing he'd need a harness. Trust me, you can't possibly beat me up any more than I'm beating myself up right now. I've learned my lesson, and it will never, ever, ever, EVER happen again. I've spent the whole evening going over "what if?" in my head, and I'm still shaking a little bit over it.)
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Thanks so much for all of the comments! I left the house for an hour or so, and it was amazing to come back to all of this encouragement.

I will definitely look into getting him a martingale. I'm hoping he'll be okay for his next couple of days with just the harness, because the stores are closed now and I have to go away first thing in the morning for the weekend and leave him with either my husband or my dad walking him for the next couple of days (a previously planned trip that I really kind of wish I could cancel, but I really can't, unfortunately). I think I'll tell everyone to just take him out for potty and straight back in until I get back and we can figure all of this out. He'll be a little under-exercised for a day or two, but it's better than losing him again. My husband has walked him before just fine and will take him out for runs - it's more my dad I'm worried about, but I don't really have a choice because my husband has to work tomorrow night and I can't stay home.

Anyway - can you tell I still feel panicky over this? It's good to hear though that I'm not the only moron that this happens to. It was totally terrifying, and I don't want anybody else to go through it if it can be avoided.
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Okay, I've ordered the martingale off of amazon, so it should be here by Saturday. I'm going to be in a constant state of anxiety for the next few days while I'm away and other people are responsible for taking care of him, but I'm sure it will be fine. My husband certainly seems to think I'm being a little obsessive :p

On the other hand, he wasn't there to feel that terrible sensation of helplessness... sigh. Stuff of nightmares.

By the way, we really do have an amazing vet, and will keep going to her as long as she's around! My family has been going to her practice for decades - starting way back when it was her dad's practice. She's incredible, and this isn't the first time I've seen her go above and beyond. I feel lucky to have her - I kind of wish I could find a human doctor who cared that much for myself...
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Well, Jameson decided to prove you all right that dogs can easily slip their harnesses. This time was a lot less dramatic though, and I wasn't here for it - my husband was walking him with just the harness (he kept trying to convince me the harness would be just fine on it's own... stubborn man). This time though he was only in my backyard, and, according to my husband, he came right up onto the porch and into the house with a little bit of food-related coaxing. On the up-side though, there are two positive things that come out of incident number 2:
1. We know now that he considers our house "home," because he came right towards the house instead of trying to go in the other direction. This just kind of makes me feel a little fuzzy inside, especially with how difficult and distant he's been.
2. My husband is finally convinced that the harness isn't enough, and now finally agrees with me (and all of you) that he needs the martingale and/or two leashes clipped into two different things. For now, we're using a chain collar and the harness until the martingale arrives (it should be coming tomorrow).

Alas, I would have preferred to avoid any further incidents, but at least this time was way less traumatic (and I wasn't the one who had to deal with it), and at least now my husband will stop giving me "pacifying the crazy lady" looks when I tell him that we really, really need the martingale.
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