Mary and I have been dog lovers all our lives. And we both have a fondness for Golden Retrievers. In 2018, we decided it was time to have another. We ended up with two: Remington and Giulio. For Mary and Giulio, it was love at first sight; he picked her, if any puppy ever did. Remi had come home first, and while unrelated and initially circumspect, they became brothers through and through.
Early on, we had a harrowing experience when Remi’s lower jaw got snagged in Giulio’s collar, and in his frantic efforts to free himself, he nearly strangled Giulio to death. Had I returned to our family room just a few seconds later, it would have been too late. We quickly removed both their collars; in researching safer alternatives, we learned this problem is all too common, with dogs often dying snagged on fences, or when playing as ours were. Our research led us to the breakaway collar. Initially, we had to order them direct from the maker, but they are now available on Amazon (don’t worry; we’re not an Amazon associate; we don’t take commissions on our links) The key to this collar is knowing how to use it correctly. We were reminded yesterday.
Giulio has been battling allergies and an ear infection. During his checkup at the vet yesterday, our vet advised he would need to stay for a few hours to get his ears fully flushed out under sedation. He’s five years old and has never been left at the vet. After taking him in the back, they brought his collar and leash out to me. That was emotionally unsettling, because the last time any vet did that for me was the last time I saw my dog. It was also foreshadowing. When we came to pick up Giulio, we brought his collar and leash back with us. I did not notice that the clasp was attached to only one of the brass rings when I handed it to the vet tech. As we waited for him to be brought out and reviewed his paperwork, one of the staff said “they’re bringing him outside.” we turned to go out and at that moment saw him break away from the assistant who had not secured his leash properly.
I think the word “terrified” is way overused online, but that’s what we were. Our vet’s office is in a busy city area, bracketed by 8-lane streets, and fast food and Costco parking lots, and I saw our beautiful dog run full speed headlong into it all. He headed straight to the street, running in front of cars and past people trying to help. I pulled groin muscles I didn’t know I had chasing him. But neither I nor Mary had any hope of keeping up with him. Thankfully a Good Samaritan grabbed him halfway through the Costco parking lot—probably a good thing he veered in that direction, because the traffic is slower with more pedestrians—and got him under control. That’s no small thing. Giulio is a 110-pound tugboat of a dog, with short powerful legs. He was, is, miraculously unhurt but traumatized. The vet staff put him into a car and took him back to the office. There, the entire staff received a short course in breakaway collars. They’re not perfect, but they’re better than the alternative—unless used improperly. At home, Mary covered him tightly for comfort, and we let him sleep. We were also exhausted but thankful for being just dumb lucky.