It’s a Dog’s World, We are Just Living in It

By Bryan Goligoski   |   June 11, 2020

Living in Santa Barbara, over the past few months, has been an incredible reminder of how lucky we are to call this place home. One reason we’ve made it through these rough times is because of the healthy access we all have to our beaches and trails. They have been good to us, it’s time to be good to them.

Our trails are looking pretty rough these days, and they need a little taking care of. By taking care, I mean curbing your hound if you find yourself in a position where he or she does their business. The high level of traffic recently has left conditions not only messy, but unhealthy as well. The lower portion of Hot Springs currently looks more like a unkept dog run than a bucolic trail to enjoy a hike under the leafy sycamore trees.

Do everyone the favor of grabbing a dog bag provided courtesy of Luke Ebbin, or the Montecito Pet Hospital at the trailheads, and be a responsible owner. Putting a rock over the mess, or chucking things into the bushes, is not an appropriate plan. Sadly, it’s going to take the work of others to get the current situation cleaned up, literally. While nobody wants to be in charge of someone else’s mess, sometimes you just need to do the right thing, as unappealing as that sounds.

The other issue at hand is the lowering of standards when it comes to deciding to leash or not leash your pooch. The law is pretty clear that hounds need to be tethered to their owners in some way, shape, or form when treading the trails or hanging out at the beach. It’s also pretty well known that about a third of people actually do so. Which I have no issues with, assuming the owner has done the work and taken the time to train and socialize the pooch, resulting in their ability to stay under control while off leash.

In my reasonable opinion, there are three kinds of canines. The one just described, those that straddle both sides of the disposition fence, and those that simply have attitudes or tendencies that says they need to be on a leash at all times. In the last month, I’ve had to use the phrase “know your dog” several times with a certain amount of gusto to get another owner’s attention and have them take their dogs questionable behavior seriously. It’s never fun, or particularly pretty.

One such incident happened in Sharks Cove in mid-May, when two dogs came at my large Cane Corso puppy showing their pearly white teeth off, but not in a nice way. My dog was leashed, the other dogs weren’t. Instead, they were ripping down the beach with the owner’s teenage children a good thirty yards away trying to chase them down. Not a good situation for anyone.

To add insult to injury, I received an anonymous letter from the dad admonishing my admonishment of the behavior given the seriousness of the situation. This attorney with “twenty years of local residency” not only cited the leash law ordinance number, he went on to write that he instructed his daughters to still have the dogs off leash. I hope you can see the irony. And his three years of tenure over my seventeen in town doesn’t buy him the right to make a questionable decision that went bad.

I say this in part to give everyone fair warning. When bad things happen between dogs, not only are emotions run through the ringer, but lawyers get involved. Case in point, an excited Labradoodle got into a row with a Boxer on Butterfly Beach and wound up putting a severe right angle into a bystander’s femur when things got real. One sizeable personal injury lawsuit later, checks with six zeros on them were being exchanged to make the situation go away. Fair warning to anyone who doesn’t think these things can get very serious in a hurry.

The takeaway from all of this is twofold. First, do the right thing and clean up after that loveable furry companion of yours. This place is too nice not to. Second, know your hound, and its disposition. Leash them when necessary and remember, while it may be a special snowflake to you, the dog doesn’t really understand English in the way you think it does when the situation goes south.

Take care, be responsible, and have fun out there.


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