21/01/2020 and I was on the way from Patterdale to activate St Sunday crag. Not too far from the top something caught my eye - and it wasn’t the Herdwick sheep I was expecting. The two ears I could see belonged to a big dog - a husky or malmut or whatever, wearing an expensive looking harness. Then it saw me and started the barking. Not an agressive bark, but one of distress. No owner around and I wasn’t sure there’d be anyone else up here so early on the morning. The dog didn’t want to come near, and it didn’t appear to want to go either. A quick scout around just to make sure there wasn’t a body nearby confirmed the dog was probably lost.
I sat down and thought about what to do. Phone the park? The police?. Catch it? Cancel my activation? It didn’t want my proffered ham sandwich I’d saved for later. It circled me nervously interspersed by loud howling. A large identity disc hung from the dogs harness. I could photo it and perhaps later call the owner? Surely I couldn’t be that callous just to leave the dog just to get a few points. Could I? Should I?
But as a dog owner I couldn’t just leave her there. She could come with me, if I could catch her, but then I had no lead. Then I remembered my SotaBeams linked dipole! One of the winders for the coax also has a length of guying string I never use. Now I needed it. A length was cut off and an improvised leash was made. The dog was starting to get nearer and nearer. Then, just below me 3 women with a dog approached. Alas they weren’t the owners, but one had dog biscuits which the lost dog ate, and I soon had it caught and on the ‘lead’.
One of the 3 phoned the owner up. Much to our surprise and no doubt the owner’s too, she was unaware the dog was lost or that it was in the Lake District. We were told she’d left it in charge of her teenage sons and a friend and she had no idea where they were.
We took down the mobile number she gave us for her son and rang him. “Oh we let the dog off the leash and it chased a sheep and we couldn’t catch it”. This being near Patterdale!! The dog had wondered off up here on its own. How to re-unite them?
Just at this point a runner with a dog came by and mentioned that the’d passed a group of lads looking for their dog near the village of Glennridding. . And this appeared to be the dog! We contacted the boys and the runner now with an extra dog set off down the hill. And much relieved I carried on my way and just made my activation although it was 30 minutes later than I’d expected.
Just as I was completing my activation the same runner passed by again and he told me he’d returned the dog to the very relieved lads - with a stern warning to keep it on a lead due to the sheep. On my way down later on, I noticed numerous signs on the gates asking/warning dog owners to keep dogs on leads. But I guess young lads will always know better. Hopefully these will have learned a valuable lesson!
I felt quite pleased with myself as I walked back down. I’d helped a lost dog and I’d had a good days activating too! A good deed done!
I knew you were activating too! I listened for you a couple of times, but it was only when I was on Great Mell fell g/ld-035 I heard you. In fact I made sure when you were on Friday before I came home! !! I thought I’m not missing this s2s!! Tks David.
Thank you for taking the time to help this dog reunite with his family.
We talk much about enjoying our encounters with wildlife during activations. Helping fellow critters where appropriate, whether wild or domestic, is part of the deal for continued mutual enjoyment and appreciation.
I hope these dog owner learn a valuable lesson to keep their dog on a lead. It really does annoy me that you get some really bad dogs owners that don’t keep their dog on a lead and let them run to to people and bark at them as well just for these owners to say “It won’t hurt you”. As someone who is scared of dogs, owners saying “it won’t hurt up” is useless as the damage has been done due the dog dog terrifying me. I also don’t like those long elastic leads either as that is technically the dog being loose and running up and barking at people if they are not well behaved, the only advantage of those it is you don;t loose the dog. Thankfully most of the time on the hills anyway, most dogs are well behaved and have good owners, but there are a small minority of dogs on hills that are not well behaved and have bad dog owners. I think it is always best that dogs are kept on leads at all time and close to the owner also.
As a fellow dog owner let me also thank you for all your actions David.
I can only hope that those kids mother gives them a good “seeing-to” they wont forget too quickly when she gets home knowing what the kids have done.
I had a similar experience, delaying an activation, not on a summit but just here in the village with a dog loose on the main road - no name tag, nothing to identify where it had come from, thankfully the local grapevine kicked in and friends called friends in the village and in the meantime I took the dog (who was quite happy to come to me and be connected to my spare lead after I took my own dog home and put her in the garden) to the vet’s office in the next village to have it’s chip read. It didn’t come up in any of the three official databases, luckily in the meantime the local grapevine had found the probable location of the dogs home. On taking it back there, the owner was not home but the cleaner was and she had let the dog out into an un-fenced garden, so that she could get the vacuuming done and the dog had just wandered off and the cleaner hadn’t even noticed! The first she knew about it was when I brought the dog back!
Only then I could set off to drive to my planned SOTA activation 90 minutes behind schedule.
I couldn’t have handled it any other way though Dave - the same as you. Safety of animals comes before radio activations, always. I also made some new friends in the village through the situation.
Lovely looking dog too! I guess the kids didn’t need a good seeing too. I’d guess that they’d have been horrified when they realised the dog was gone. But their mum would have told them off just the same.!!
I too live in a village and its just big enough so there isn’t too much gossip and small enough so you know most of the residents or someone you know knows someone you don’t. As a dog owner myself we know all the other dog walkers and their dogs from the village!!!
You are wrong, Jimmy. The dog is not loose, it is still under control. The retractable lead does give the dog a little more freedom to behave like a dog and not a toy on wheels, but the lead can very quickly be drawn in with a two-handed technique, and it is also a means of communication between dog and human - for instance a quick click of the ratchet button gets the immediate attention of the dog so if you follow this by drawing the lead in (say to cross the road) the dog is ready to co-operate. The biggest problem is that the human has a duty to be alert because dogs take a long time to learn that they shouldn’t wrap their lead around people’s legs, trees and lamp posts, but toddlers are much the same!
I sympathise with you for your fear of dogs, and am careful with mine around other people, but I would like you to understand that where you see a fearful animal, I see a person with four legs. A person with limited intellect, but still a person. You possibly think of dogs as dangerous animals, but believe me, the most dangerous animal of all goes about on two legs.
siberian husky, the dog with the most anarchist character but not aggressive. firstly he does what he wants, then maybe he listens to you.
My dog is a siberian husky, I know somethink about it.
During the hike I use always the leash
I for one am getting sick and tired of dogs on 30 ft leads being able to run where they want, including up to strangers and their rucksacks. There is a total difference in perception between a dog lover and someone who is nervous of dogs. Of course the dog lover will insist they are under control. But if they’ve already ran right up to someone that doesn’t wish to be within 10 feet of them, then how can they be?
As Jimmy says, there are some fantastic dogs out on the hills. They don’t need to be on leads of any length. They only approach a stranger once they see that the stranger is clearly happy with this. This happened on Gun G/SP-013 yesterday. A beautiful old retriever called Fergus walked towards me, but stopped about 15 feet away and did not come any nearer until I had indicated clearly that he was welcome to do so.
A few minutes later, his owners arrived with another dog, but this one on a short leash. They explained that this younger dog had not yet mastered the not approaching strangers without permission thing, and therefore had to be on a short leash when out walking. Their view on very long leads was the same as mine and Jimmy’s!
Do you see Jimmy’s point Brian? I certainly do. A dog runs up to you causing anxiety, the owner sees that you are uncomfortable and shouts over “He’s OK, he won’t harm you”. That’s utterly ridiculous and dogs on very long leads are often the worst culprits.
I don’t get the logic of a dog that can not be trusted to behave like Fergus, to be allowed a 60ft diameter of freedom to cause whatever nuisance they wish.
Too many dog owners take the attitude that if their dog has made someone else feel uneasy, then the fault/problem lies with that other person.