Always Wear Your Seatbelt

Even, when you’re only going a couple of miles.

Even when you’ve driven that stretch a million times.

Just put on your seatbelt.

The same is for your dog safety protocols.

Yeah….. I blew it.

The last dog I rescued was my Jaxxy. He was a tough one. And a blessing. He made me seek more information. He led me to the path I’m on now. But….. Took a ton of research. A lot of work. And about 4 months of pack restructuring to get my crew where we were.

And it was beautiful.

They were loose most of the time. Could play well. Slept on the couch together. Solid.

And, that was no easy feat.

Jax and Milo are both gamers. If they fight….. They don’t stop.

The trick with dogs like that is to teach them that they don’t need to fight.

And that works for 99% of the situations. Like good driving makes seatbelts irrelevant.

But….. That 1%…… That’s why you wear seatbelts.

That is why we have a rule of 2 dogs at a time on walks/pulls. Choke collars on  and back up leash for every dog even if they’re in pulling harnesses………. Because IF that one in a million thing just goes sideways, it can be safely dealt with.


After almost a year of zero incidents…… I got a little loose.

One time in a hurry….. I took 3 for a pull. Now, that time,  I had all my back up gear, and a Pet Convincer. And, bothered to look way ahead to ensure no distractions.

And….. It went fine.

That turns, over time, into 3 being no problem in a pinch.

Being in a hurry, I forgot to put a back up collar on a dog once.

That, turned into not really stressing about them if I was just “doing a quick one”.

Yep…. You can drive a long, long time and not need a seatbelt.

But, then….. One day….. You hit a tree.

Well, I hit 4 ox dragging a tire.

Yeah. That’s a rural Maine problem. But, guaranteed you have something that ridiculously irritating in your neighborhood too.

I had 3 dogs in harnesses pulling my mountain bike.

Well, of course on that day, I only had one dog in a back up collar with spare leash. And, the only reason I had Jax in that, is because he gets hot sometimes and needs to be allowed to lollygag.

I did have a Pet Convincer…..

But, hadn’t checked it to make sure it was full.

Yep. It was one of those days.

So, we come upon these fucking ox. And, I try to blow right past them, which I’ve managed with 2 dogs…… But….. Not 3.

Pack drive goes up with multiple dogs, and on this day. they banked towards the ox. Of course I stop them, but now, the are all being restrained about 30 feet away from the things. I see the redirection about to come.

Out comes the Pet Convincer in an attempt to distract and get them moving.  It sound like a broken whoopee cushion. And,does exactly nothing.

And….. They fight.

All 3 game.  Actually game. 2 committed and gripping. 1 just taking pot shots. It takes me about 8 minutes to get them all under control. At one point, I had to give up on breaking them up, and take the line of the bike to fashion it into a slip lead. Breaking up 3 game dogs by yourself is a fucking nightmare.

Complete shit show.

Nobody died. So that’s good.

2 dogs in the ER. Staples and punctures galore.

Anyway, the point isn’t to complain.

The point is to try to help people.

So…… That day that you’re walking out and you hear yourself say “eh….. I probably don’t need to do that today……

Yeah….. Go ahead and put your seatbelt on anyway.

Complacency is expensive.

In recap, the things I could have done better:

– Follow safety protocols. You made them for a reason.

– Check equipment when important things depend on it working.

– Don’t test new levels of distractions/difficulty/danger (like passing 4 ox) unless you set it up on purpose, or at least have a back up plan that’s well thought out

Hopefully…… This will help someone remember to put on their seatbelt.



10 thoughts on “Always Wear Your Seatbelt”

  1. Man I’ve had the same thing happen, not with an Ox, walking or biking multiple dogs can get hairy. Being well prepared is key, I’ve even started carrying pepper spray for everyone else’s crazy off leash dogs.

  2. 14 racing huskies pulling a quad, first run of the season, been doing this for a LOT of years, but forgot to bring the “backup” – stopped to undo a neckline tangle, set the brakes on the quad ( but not firmly enough ) , and moved up to the team – my over anxious, high drive, high energy wheel dogs were able to dogs were able to drag the quad ahead far enough that one of them was able to grab the tail of the dog in front of him – instant ball of 14 fighting dogs with me tangled in the ball of dogs and lines – I was so tangled that I couldn’t see which dog it was that grabbed my calf – having been accidentally bit during dog fights before, I was sure that what ever dog it was that was biting me, he would let go as soon as he realized it was me – as I expected, he let go of my calf, but only so he could get a better grip – ( I wound up with 3 large holes in my calf that required medical treatment for weeks ) – with no backup with me, it was a real struggle to get free of the lines and break up a fight between 14 dogs, all tangled in their lines in an area the size of a dining room table – I have to agree with your comment about doing up your seat belt for the .01% percent chance of a mishap

  3. So glad to hear the dogs will all be okay. Thanks for sharing. Your story has hit home with me in a very special way. I *always* have my dogs wear seat belts when riding in the car. It takes me longer to strap them in, but I have always thought what it would be like if I didn’t and had an accident. I have been complacent in putting on their seat belts when I am taking quick trips lately, knowing in the back of my head I’m taking a huge risk. So when I read the headline of your blog, I thought you’d had a car accident and were advocating restraints in your vehicle! Turns out, you are preaching the same thing, though, so thank you. I got the message. I will buckle my dogs in the car all the time. Hope the road to recovery for your dogs will be a smooth one.

  4. Man, this is a great LFI (learning from incidents) example. We’ve all been there at one level or another, and it hits home especially hard right now. My Amstaff has exploded once each on the older female GS and male pit/lab during escalated play. This was during the early days and has not happened for several months, but i don’t count. She is never allowed to have free roam of the house when i or my husband are not there, yet yesterday i came home to her greeting me at the door along with the other two. Nothing happened, but she was given the opportunity to make bad choices and that will never happen again. Husband thought she would be fine for a few minutes until i arrived home. I’m a Safety Engineer by profession, and I have always said, “Safety works when you MAKE it work” meaning anticipate all contingencies, take all precautions, and follow them consistently, no exceptions. No such thing as part time safety. Glad your pack is ok and thanks for sharing an important message. ,

  5. Hey man, thanks for sharing your experience and sorry this happened to you and the dogs. Wow, 4 ox pulling a tire – I thought this was some sort of folksy, idiomatic expression when first reading, but guess it was literal, geeze.

    Now, I come more from the competition dog mind set, though my dogs are companions before they are competition dogs. And I tend to keep a male and female bull dog breed (though not from strong game bred lines). So, I have had two that just hit it off quickly and could really be trusted not to hurt each other in just about any situation, but the two I have now (10 month old male and 5 year old female) it ain’t love at first sight and they are still trying to figure out each other.

    I would love to have them do something where they are cooperating together (like a leash walk, even) vs. rough housing in the backyard but without a second handler, I see this is too much risk for a benefit that I can develop otherways, but slower over time.

    Now, that’s just me and this is a personal thing/question everyone has to answer for themselves and their dogs, but my question to you (with all due respect – and I know this was a rant not a call for a dialogue – thanks again for sharing also) is:

    do you think it is unfair to ask Jax and Milo to do that activity together?

    Training and socialization are powerful, but so is the inborn nature of a typey game dog

    1. Hey, I totally get what your saying. I DON’T want to make dogs live together if they truly don’t like each other. That’s not these guys. Or, most dogs honestly. Most dogs, are fighting because of habituation. They’ve learned that it is just how they respond. If you teach them, they aren’t supposed to, and they don’t need to, they generally don’t want to. Even the game ones. Pit Dogmen used to spend a tremendous aount of effort crafting the desire to scrap. Even in these dogs, it isn’t “natural”. The propensity is natural. They have the traits that make that decision statistically more likely. But they aren’t just sitting there stewing. Or shouldn’t be. They enjoy pulling together (and other activities). They both illicit play from the other. They sleep in the same room by choice. But….. They are like those brothers that when they get along are fine, but if they argue…. Someone’s getting punched. But…. Once it comes to contact, gamers go bad. That would’ve been a snap and scoot little snarky tiff in other dogs. But…. IF these guys go. They GO. So to answer….. No. It’s not fair for me to put them in THAT activity. Not pulling. BUt pulling past a cart of ox. THAT was the pivotal mistake. And I won’t make it again.

      1. Thanks for your response… just hits home with me because, like I said above I’m trying to get my current two into an outdoor activity together where they are cooperating, and pulling certainly seems like a good activity for dogs who may not be able to chase one ball together to do…
        Afraid the wife would have all three of us living outside, if my two got into it, haha.

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