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Leashes vs obedience

The mighty dog Baxter - on good behavior

 We had been taking care of Baxter for almost a year at the North Carolina house. We had sold the Stuart , FL house and lived full time outside of Boone in a no leash required , populated but heavily wooded community with an integrated ski resort. So we were at elevation, 4750' , with lots of wild life literally embedded within the town.  We thought we had learned when we could trust Baxter off the lease or not.  He was very dutiful in staying at hand when we went to the mailbox and he would pee across the road or if we did short term yard work he would not venture off.   Well, we had FL friends come to visit and we walked the neighborhood shortly after their arrival and Baxter would particularily stay close if several people were grouped; he wanted to be involved in the action.                                                                                                     On normal solo walks he was always on the leash but we got in a hurry to get underway as darkness was upon us and left the leash behind.  He did great, almost being under foot, until we started our return, and then he knew we were headed home and began roaming left and right into neighboring yards .......and returning to the pack......until we all realized he was not in sight.  He must have decided to "try a shortcut" , or something,  as we called and called and scoured yards on our way back to the house.  I was gathering flashlights for a renewed search when our only other permanent resident neighbor, in late October, several hundred yards on the other end of the neighborhood called and said they enticed Baxter out of their backyard with a treat and he looked a little scruffy.  We fetched the long neutered Baxter and wondered what he thought he was getting away with taking a forest route well past our house.                            During subsequent discussions with other pet owners we heard many a similar story about pets bolting unexpectedly and getting lost or almost run over  on nearby highways, etc.  We pet owners don't "really" know how pets think......we only know how they characteristically act; and sometimes they surprise us.                                               Baxter would always tear out to the car when he knew we were taking him along and jump in as soon as the door opened.......but occasionally ......he would wait until we loaded our gear, and then make us chase him around and around the car before getting in.  Twice, the very occasional  car would come by and he would be right in the middle of the road , totally unafraid of vehicles, challenging us to catch him.  Baxter would have been a literal snack for one of the bobcats or coyotes that were observed quite often by town residents. For the remaining 5 yrs of his life he was always on a leash, except when actually in the car.                                                                                                 Oh,  very early on when the daughter was visiting in Stuart, she was switching collars or harnesses out on the beach and Baxter bolted 50 yards down the beach and play pounced on a guy sunbathing.....and sleeping!   That took some apologies.                      So better safe than sorry for the rest of his years......and he never seemed to actually mind the leash.


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