Walking the dogs can be a scary proposition


With as mild a winter as we have enjoyed to this point, it’s kind of hard to forget that it’s been cold in other parts of the country. And when one thinks of cold locales in the United States, one should immediately conjure up images of Alaska.

Admittedly, Alaska gets an inordinate amount of ink in this column. Our technical director, Shaun Lambert, is a native Eskimo from Alaska, and I’m constantly fascinated by his tales of exploring for gold, running into random bears and dealing with temperatures best reserved for walk-in freezers.

He has even gotten me into adding the Anchorage Daily News into my daily reading schedule, and it has quickly become one of my favorite newspapers because of its now-too-rare belief in covering its community with care and thoughtfulness. Well, that, and because you just run into some plain interesting stories on its site.

For instance, the paper has been reporting on an 85-year-old woman named Dorothea Taylor who recently came to the aid of her husband, George. The couple was apparently walking with their two golden retrievers at the Willow Airport when a moose approached George and then came right after him. With nowhere to hide, George dove into the deep snow for protection.

“He started to stomp,” explained George. “Then he turned around and stomped again. And there was nothing I could do. I was afraid he was going to kill me.”

Dorothea, who was not near George at the time, said she heard the dogs barking at something and came over to investigate. The moose then turned its attention to her, she grabbed a grain shovel from the couple’s truck and instinct took over from there. She swung at the moose with everything she had and one of the dogs joined her cause, eventually chasing the moose away from her and her husband.

You just don’t get that kind of story in Sussex County very often. Of course, there used to be reports on a crazy raccoon that bullied dashing bald editors around the Coastal Point parking lot from time to time, but ...

I digress.

Actually, maybe it wasn’t being in Alaska that was dangerous for that couple as much as it was them walking their dogs. A story in the San francisco Chronicle focused on a man from Montara, Calif., who was walking his two dogs at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which is newly incorporated into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

According to the story, Gary Hesterberg was stopped by a U.S. park ranger for not having his dogs on a leash, and then allegedly tried to walk away from the ranger after providing a phony name. The ranger, whom the Park Service declined to name, then deployed her Taser on the man.

“That did stop him,” said National Park Service spokesman Howard Levitt, as relayed by USA Today.

I guess it would. You know what else would have probably stopped him? A bazooka. Or a shell fired from a tank. Or an old lady swinging a shovel.

“He just tried to walk away. She never gave him a reason,” said Michelle Babcock, who was with her husband walking her dogs when the incident took place. “We were like in disbelief. It didn’t make any sense.”

Levitt told the Associated Press that the incident is being reviewed, and that the ranger is still on the job, pending that review. But he did defend her use of the Taser.

“Any law-enforcement officer has a variety of means by which to insure compliance in a law-enforcement issue, so the standard is they exercise reasonable judgement to ensure compliance in any situation they find themselves in,” he said.

So, yeah.

Please, keep your dogs on leashes, or face electrocution.