I try not to judge, but I am human. People who refuse to follow wilderness regulations can make it both dangerous for others out to enjoy the wild, and annoying. If I want to see wildlife, and dog owners won’t keep their dog(s) leashed, there is no way I might spot a deer or mountain goat or moose because they’ve been warned off by the dog free to roam wherever they wish. Dangerous because the owner really has no idea how their dog will react when coming face-to-face with other dogs, humans, or horses.
On one hike, I crossed paths with six owners, seven dogs. Only one had their dog on a leash which I thanked them profusely for, having decided a couple weeks back that this is the thing I need to do: thank the ones who are doing what they should be doing. But on this particular hike, I’d reached my tolerance limit, especially after reading so many trail notes from others who are equally annoyed by dogs off lead.
As the hiker’s dog approached, I simply stopped where I was and politely asked them to leash their dog. The first one told me the dog was friendly and I needn’t worry, to which I responded that I’d like them to please leash the dog, who was growling at me in a decidedly non-friendly manner. She did and I thanked her for following the wilderness regulation. Then she told me there wasn’t any regulation that said dogs had to be leashed. I think she must not have learned how to read.
Most owners will politely leash their dog when asked, but I have no illusions that they remain leashed once they pass me. One lady leashed her two big American Bull Dogs and as she passed me, she proclaimed to the dogs: “Come on, this lady hates you.” Just minutes after, a line of little girls on horseback came up the trail. Loose dogs can cause terrible wrecks with horses. I warned the lead rider, but I shouldn’t have had to. No trails where dogs are required to be leashed should leave other hikers at the mercy of those owners who think the rules don’t apply to them, but especially trails that see a lot of human traffic.
I now release the soapbox.