Last Monday morning I was walking my 11-month-old dog on the downs just up from Arlington Reservoir when a gentleman cycled by on one of the tracks with his children in a trailer behind.
I often walk her off lead in this area as it is a few hundred metres from Warren Hill and East Dean roads and while she has sometimes pursued a cyclist she has always returned after a short run or the cyclist has stopped so I can retrieve her.
On this occasion the cyclist and the trailer with his children was clearly too exciting for my dog to give up the chase and despite my repeated calls for her to return she did not respond.
As they headed off towards Warren Hill with its busy morning traffic I shouted loudly again and again for the cyclist to stop but he could either not hear me or did not realise the imminent danger.
They all eventually made it to the side of the road as I ran at full speed to catch them up and then tried to bring my dog to me, but she was too excited by her adventure and avoided my capture with the traffic racing by just feet away.
Unfortunately she ultimately veered off into the road to be hit by the front wheel of an oncoming car.
Remarkably she only had cuts to her right side legs and paws and after an emergency visit to the vet and a dose of antibiotics she is healing well and her usual self.
Other than to say a big thank you to the lady in the car who stopped to enquire how my dog was, I have written this letter to make a special plea to cyclists on the downs to please ‘think dog’ when cycling anywhere near to roads and if chased by someone’s excitable four legged friend to stop so that the owner can retrieve them before any harm arises.
On Monday morning my wife and I nearly lost our beautiful young dog and I hope this letter helps in some small way to prevent anyone else losing theirs or going through a similar harrowing experience.