It's been a long, cold, hard winter. Sub-zero temperatures for weeks at a time have kept just about everyone I know (including me and my pups) indoors and anti-social. While Mother Nature has given us a couple glimpses of the spring weather we are usually enjoying in earnest by this time of year, Old Man Winter has been reluctant to release his grasp on the Valley. As the calendar turns to April, it appears that Spring is finally arriving and outdoor activities will be increasing exponentially.
Spring brings out the best in both people and animals. It's a time of awakening and activity. It's a time to shake off the winter blues and get out and move! I knew Spring was finally arriving even though there was still snow in the forecast last week when I saw the change in Cassie, my thirteen and a half year old pup. She was helping me take out the trash one evening when she starting running laps around my house going between the back and front yards and playing hide and seek with me. There was a spring in her step that I hadn't seen since the weather had turned cold last fall. She wanted to play and sniff and simply enjoy being outdoors.
I am fortunate that Cassie knows her boundaries. She will stay between my yard and her "Aunt Heather's" yard (my neighbor's yard) unless I tell her she can go further and even then she doesn't go far from me. All I have to do when she is off leash is make a noise and she comes right back to my side. Not all dogs are like that and she certainly wasn't always so well behaved. When she was little, she learned to open the storm door on her own. If the front door was open and I didn't have the storm door locked, she would let herself out and would be touring the neighborhood before I knew it. She was fortunate that she never got lost and was never hit by a car. Her best buddy Tripp wasn't as fortunate. He snuck by me one night when I opened the front door to let Cassie in and went full speed into the street and directly into the path of a car driven one of my neighbors, a man who is always on alert for children and animals when driving. Thankfully, he heard me scream and was able to stop. So instead of Tripp getting hit by a car, Tripp hit the car and escaped with relatively minor injuries.
As Spring takes hold and the weather continues to warm, more and more of our animal friends are going to want to be outside running and playing with their human brothers and sisters. Children who received puppies as Christmas gifts are going to be outside playing with those puppies and learning how to take their puppies for walks on leashes. It will be a learning experience for both that will likely result, at least once, in the puppy getting loose and the child chasing after it. Hopefully, there will be an adult present to intervene and prevent both the child and the puppy from running into the street, but that is not guaranteed.
There is also no guarantee that a child learning to ride his or her bike will not fall into the street or that the child will be able to stop at an intersection. There is no guarantee that the pre-teen practicing her pitching won't overthrow a ball into the street and the "catcher" (either human or canine) will run into the street without looking to retrieve the errant ball. There is no guarantee that the jogger running along the side of the road won't step wrong and fall. What is guaranteed is that the unexpected will happen at some point when we are driving and we must be prepared to deal with the unexpected in an instant.
So here is my springtime plea to those driving through our neighborhoods: Please be alert. Watch for children and animals playing in the yards lining the street or walking down the sidewalk. Be prepared to stop if you believe there is even a chance that a child or animal may end up in the path of your car. Don't have your music up so loud that you would not be able to hear a child or adult scream for you to stop. You are not going to receive a prize for seeing how fast you can get from one stop sign to the next. That extra five seconds it may take you to travel the length of the block if you slow down may save the life of a child or a beloved family pet.
We can teach children the dangers of running into the street without looking. We can tell children to let the puppy go and get an adult if the puppy breaks free instead of chasing it. Children are children, however. They do not always think rationally and often just react. Children fall. Leashes break. Fence gates come open. Children and pets often escape the safe confines of their yards. Drivers need to be alert, traveling at a reasonable speed in residential neighborhoods and prepared to stop in an instant. So please, as you are avoiding the pot holes left behind by the harsh winter we experienced this year, keep your eyes open for our children and pets as they are enjoying the freedom of spring and being outdoors. And pet parents: please make sure your furry children have identification tags so they may find their way home if they escape the safety of their yards. We, at Bordas & Bordas, strive to make the world a safer place for children and pets. Please help and do your part by slowing down in our neighborhoods and watching out for children out playing both with and without their pets.