WARNING – The author is climbing onto the soapbox.
Yesterday, we tried the Laurel River Trail recommended in the book Best Hikes with Dogs: North Carolina by Karen Chavez. So far, I have found the trails recommended by the book to be good, but was very disappointed yesterday. Not by the trail since it was actually very pretty as it followed the river:
Rather, the trail was spoiled by all of the off-leash and out of control dogs we met.
Understand, I do believe that a dog can be off-leash and under control. In fact, we met one of those yesterday on the trail. A beautiful Golden Retriever was playing in the river when his owner saw us coming up the trail. She called his name – once – and the dog immediately jumped in the river and swam over to his owner, sat beside her, and waited until she verbally released him after we were well down the trail. That is a dog that has earned the right to be off-leash through diligent training by its owner.
For all of the other off-leash dogs we met on the trail, your owners have failed you. Running into the trail, blocking our path and charging us (a pit bull and a border collie at one point and a chihuahua at another) is totally unacceptable. And, dear owners, if you call your dogs name 20-30 times while he is blocking my path, you do NOT have control. I know, for example, that the pit bull’s name is Tanner because his owner repeatedly called him by his name while the dog totally ignored the owner.
By the way, if you think I am saying my dogs are better – they are not. I know perfectly well that they would not reliably respond to verbal commands with distractions like other dogs. That is precisely why they are never off leash on a trail.
Unfortunately, these were not the exception, but rather the rule on this trail. For the very few dogs I met on leash (including two beautiful and well behaved German Shepherds), I was concerned that one of them might get into trouble simply defending themselves against the out of control dogs.
So, unfortunately, we have a trail that we will not be using again.
Climbing off of soap box.