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Fatal Leash


Nietzsche or to me "Nieches"


Nietzsche, a nine to ten pound miniature long haired dachshund, died on October 29, 2003 under a car wheel within feet of my son during a walk in his Capitol Hill neighborhood. He was a fearless little guy who became an immediate favorite with all family and friends who came to know him. I'd never particularly cared for dogs. I preferred the more independent cats that did not have such a dependence and need so much attention and approval. When Nietzsche came on a visit from New Mexico I was not all that enthusiastic about "dog sitting" while his "parents" were out. That lasted for an hour. He sat quietly on the other sofa nearby and I was the one who called him over when he looked a bit nervous about being alone. We hit it off immediately. He had a personality I found unique in dogs.

He could be aggressive with other dogs and strangers, possibly due to being dumped in the desert of northern New Mexico by someone who had apparently burned his nose (scars visible in photo above) with cigarettes. When the kids adopted him he was a mess with matted fur and open sores. He was feisty and set in his ways when adopted. As a result they were very careful with him on walks. They are also very careful shoppers.

Nietzsche had been walked for several years on a special leash and harness that was not particularly comfortable, the other two little adopted pound dogs were on retractable leashes, and they had talked about how he really needed a bit more freedom during late evening walks when there was less chance of encountering other dogs. A few days before he was killed they'd bought a retractable at Pet's Mart for him. It looked much like the ones they'd used for years.

Several nights later this is how that retractable leash looked:

Nietzsche saw a dog across the street and lunged, all ten pounds of him, and the "Ed dog" leash parted. He was crushed under the wheel of a car just leaving the intersection.

We arrived from a visit with our daughter and her family to find the other family in tears at our house. I'd looked forward to ten days with Nieches over Christmas, but that will not be. Every time I see these leashes now I feel sadness and a bit of fury.

There is no safety lobby for the pets. Consumer Product Safety Commission "does not and will not" involve itself with animal safety as they do with child safety. Consider a moment though, people are walking much larger dogs on these things and some of these dogs are not child friendly. If Nietzsche had been a forty pound child unfriendly dog on a breakaway leash CPSC has an issue. This may have been simply an unfortunate circumstance. No product can be perfect and planes have fallen with all passengers as a result of a freak defect. Here we will never know because there is no enforcement of safety standards for pets, that are legally usually classed lower than livestock.

For now, all I can do is put this up and warn anyone using or considering buying one of these neat gadgets that you might not want to just trust the manufacturer with its rating. All of these things for my "granddogs" are now in a bag and they, all less than fifteen pounds, are being walked on sturdy leashes made for much larger dogs.

One of my last photos, October 5, 2003

He was loved by all his families and friends, even getting a high compliment from my wife, who actually dislikes animals and will not touch them. She volunteered that she misses him and that he "had dignity." One of the things my granddaughters mention as first wants on visits to us is to visit their uncle and aunt on The Hill and go for dog walks. Now we find he was the driver behind those memorable family outings up among the Victorian row houses, Library of Congress and Capitol. The other two are more couch potatoes. Nietzsche is and will be missed.


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