Flexis are Dangerous

Many years ago I learned flexi leads are dangerous.

I know, most people don’t think so. I understand that. But, most people don’t walk five dogs.  When we only had one dog, then two, then three, flexi leads were great – they get the dogs out in front of you and if you have an active whippets like Cruiser, who liked to cast back and forth way out in front, they get twice as much exercise as a regular walk.

But, they are complicated to operate when you have five. My hands just aren’t strong enough to clutch five and juggle them to keep the cords untangled as the dogs weave in and out. But, I managed.

Until the day of the rabbit.

It was a quiet, beautiful 4th of July and I decided to take the guys for a walk. It was my original group of whippets from 25 years ago – Dash, Jessie, Tiffany, Cruiser and Turbo. We live on a short private gravel road which leads out to a blacktop county highway. There’s not a ton of traffic, so it’s a decent place to walk, other than the lack of variety – birch, evergreens and ditches are the view when walking, with an occasional house.

Mark and Kay and five whippets

Our original gang- Dash, Tiffany, Turbo, Jessie and Cruiser – late 1980’s

We walked out to the main road and did our usual two mile loop and were heading back down the gravel road. All was well until a rabbit kicked up and ran across the road about 20 yards in front of us. Now, any four year old child brought up with dogs has been told over and over again, NEVER LET GO.  I learned that later in life, and after many years of whippets, I still have that lesson down pat.

The lesson I forgot is that it’s never good to run with whippets. Reality is that I can’t keep up with a twelve week old, much less five healthy adults. When the rabbit flashed in
front of us I should have simply stood still and leaned backwards, or better yet, sat down and hung on.

I didn’t do that.

Five whippets weighing a total of 165 pounds, with 20 paws and 80 toenails digging into the gravel instantly flashed from our gentle walk into a full suspension, GET THE BUNNY gallop, pulling me effortlessly with them. The laws of physics were not on my side. As I ran with them, I tried to stay upright with my body weight over my feet. My fatal mistake was allowing my arms to stretch to forward, which shifted my body weight in front of me supported only by the 16 foot cords of the flexis attached to the whippets in hot pursuit. I was flying down the road in a full superman extension position. Translated into human speed, I was running at the speed of light, faster than any human had run before. They were pulling me so fast that my heels were flying up high enough to kick myself in the butt.

stick figure w five dogs

I knew I couldn’t keep this up, so I made the rational decision if it was inevitable I was going to fall, I was going to strive to minimize damage. Not being the most coordinated person, I’m actually fairly practiced at falling down – the secret to avoid damage is to hit and roll. Two giant ten foot whippet propelled strides later, I was off the main part of the gravel and onto gravel laced grass edge. I hit with my knee (BOOM), then hip (BAM!), shoulder (POW!) and managed not to crack my head, but did end up with gravel and dirt in my left ear.

As I hit the ground, NEVER LETTING GO of the flexis, going from knee to hip ultimately ended with me on my back with my arms extended over my head. The forward momentum of 160 pounds of whippets at full speed brought to an abrupt stop by my choice to cease participation in the chase yanked me forward another 18 inches through the gravel.

stick figure down

Mind you, all these rational thoughts flashed through my head just like they say happens to people as they drown. Given how little time I had to save myself, I think I did quite well to be left only with a bloody knee, skinned and bruised hip, ripped shirt, scraped shoulder and dirt in my ear.

The whippets came dancing back the length of the flexis and were highly amused by me laying on the ground in the dirt, but couldn’t understand why we were not still chasing the rabbit. They were positive if I just got up we could still get it.

Get up, get up, get up, get up, GET UP, IT’S GETTING AWAY!!!!

As I limped my way back to the house, shaking my head to clear the dirt from my ear, I vowed never again to walk five whippets on flexis.

It is 25 years later and that vow remains unbroken.

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