Even though I'm an advocate of the necessity for dogs to walk off-lead beside their humans on an everyday basis, I certainly don't mean to suggest a busy street is a place for that freedom.
Today was full of excitement - of a kind I could do without.
In the morning I took three dogs out for an on-lead street walk because their owner is not well - they were Bonnie, an elderly mutt who is a regular visitor to our house; and two gorgeous West Highland terriers who don't know me. All went well until I looked down and realised one of the westies, Scruffy, was wandering along beside us not attached to his lead. He had backed out of his collar.
I think I might have stayed calm if we hadn't been near one of the busiest roads in our neighbourhood -Bell St in Heidelberg. Scruffy danced away from me and raced towards Bell St. What to do? I hurried the other dogs to their home, on the corner of that road, grateful to a man who was dashing towards the busy highway to try to head Scruffy off. I thrust them inside the gate and was surprised to hear the other man say, 'Well, that's okay, then.'
What? I looked around, and there was Scruffy with the others. He had darted inside when I opened the gate.
It took me a long time to stop shaking and realise that all's well that ends well, but eventually I drove off towards Reservoir.
As I stopped for the lights at the massive intersection of St George's Road and Murray Road, I was horrified to see two little 'white fluffies' - probably maltese crosses of some kind - playing in the middle of the traffic.
Not straying near the traffic - PLAYING in between the masses of cars and trucks that were travelling through the intersection. The two little devils were chasing each other between the vehicles.
( I took the photos of the intersection at St George's Road after the two little dogs were safe, so they're not in the picture.)
So I parked my car as close as I could, grabbed a leash and checked my pockets for doggy biscuits.
But they weren't going to be caught. They were having too much fun. I got the council ranger's phone number from a nearby business and called for help.
An hour later it was safely resolved, thanks to the help of a passer-by who played with them and fed them my treats in the - unfenced - front yard of a nearby house.
Guess what? The ranger knew them. They've been out before. As far as I'm concerned, some people don't deserve to have a dog. I'm not going through that intersection again if I can help it. I don't want to see a little white body in the gutter.
What a day! It would be a relief to go for a walk at relaxing Gardiner's Creek with Penny and her friend Jabari. I headed along busy Manningham Road towards Blackburn.
And there he was - a THIRD dog roaming off-lead near a busy street. A black labrador. I zoomed to a halt in the car park of a nearby school and fumbled for doggy biscuits. Lucky I'd restocked my pocket.
Once again, no way was this dog going to let me near him. Worn out by the stresses of this doggy day, I rang Jabari's mum and poured out my story to her.
'Is he on the road?' she asked.
'No,' he's near some fences.' By this time he was barking fiercely at me.
'Okay, get in your car and leave,' she commanded. 'That's the sound of a dog on his own territory.'
'He's not lost. You can't help.'
She was right. As I plodded towards my car and the patiently waiting Penny, the dog slipped through the palings of a fence.
Today has convinced me. The days of groups of carefree children roaming the streets with their dogs are gone. Our streets are too dangerous.
All the more reason to value those places where dogs and people can stroll along together, safely distant from traffic. We need to make sure our community developers plan for off-lead walking areas for dogs and their humans.