I live in the country. Can I let my dog run free?

It is an absolute myth that living in the country confers greater latitude in the dictum "thou shall keep thy dog constrained to the immediate environs of the pack." Country dogs allowed to run free get shot by hunters or farmers protecting their livestock. They get into fights with other dogs over territory. They can kill livestock, fight and tassle and get disease from wild animals, and be hit by cars on the highway. They become increasingly aggressive as they vye for larger and larger perimeter boundaries to their territory, and they no longer relate to YOU as the leader of their pack. Also, don't forget that intact animals will breed and add to the overpopulation problem.

This same misconception leads people to dump unwanted dogs "in the countryside." Most such dogs die a painful death, either by slow starvation, injuries from being hit by a car or in a fight with another animal, or they are shot by farmers protecting their livestock. The countryside is not some sort of romantic haven for stray dogs.

(Cindy Moore, cindy@k9web.com)