I saw something yesterday that kinda irked me. At work, a guest had their toddler in one of those animal backpack with the attached leash. Now, I am all for those backpacks. They are a great way to make sure irresponsible parents do not lose their children. (I'm sorry. That was mean.) I know they're useful. Kids are quick and keeping them leashed is for their safety. Wouldn't want them to run into the road and get hit or bite a stranger's leg. Oh, wait. That's why we keep dogs leashed.
Anyways, so this little toddler, probably about a year old, has one of the monkey backpacks on. The packs generally come with a cloth leash about 5-6 feet long. It's a good length. They can move around, but can't get away from you, definitely always within your range of eyesight and generally always able to feel them on the other end of the leash. However, on this particular backpack, the cloth leash had been replaced with a 12 foot long nylon dog leash. Really.
Maybe the guy holding the leash was confused about what he had on the other end of the leash. If one of my dogs is going to go a way that I do not want her to, I give a slight tug on the leash, just enough to let her know we're going a different way and she turns and off we go. This man's child (I assume it's his unless someone has started a child-walking business that hasn't made the news) started to go towards one of the play areas and the man pulled the leash back. Now, not being that great on his feet anyway, the pull not only stopped the kid, but caused him to fall backwards and hit the ground. He wasn't hurt, but he could have been. He could have hit his head on something. While the kid was down, the man took that opportunity to take up the slack in the 12' long leash. Had he been using the leash that it came with the kid would not have been able to go further than the man wanted and to the point that he had to pull the leash causing him to fall. Like I said though, maybe the man was confused by the leash and figured it was just like walking a dog.
Why even have a leash that long? Unless you're drilling your dog over an obstacle course or staking him in the yard for a short duration, I don't see the use, especially not for a child. With 12' of slack, he could be in the road, in front of a car before you could stop him. Also, since people use it as an excuse to not watch their kids, a pedophile/kidnapper could cut the leash and be out the door before they even notice. Six feet away from your hand, if someone approaches your kid, you know. Twelve feet away, possibly even around a corner while you focus on chatting with your friends or ogling the hottie across the room, you wouldn't even see. The guy I saw today probably wouldn't notice until his quick tug brought him nothing but the severed end of his nylon leash. As he freaks out, people around start looking for a loose dog.
Honestly, what is the point in purchasing a product designed to increase a child's safety in a public place (while appearing responsible to the other child-on-a-leash toting parents) and completely remove or alter the part that made it so?
For me, I don't plan on leashing my kid(s). I'm going to use the old-fashioned method, out-dated and un-chic though it may be, of simply holding my kid's hand and watching them when they're out of my hand. As of yet, I have not seen a leashed child that could out run me or one strong enough to wrestle their hand out of mine. So I think we'll be fine. My mother never leashed me and never lost me either.
While I understand backpack leashes for kids and commend people with the foresight of their own irresponsibility to use them, treating your child like a dog while on the end of the leash is not good parenting, neither is extending your radius to the point that you cannot immediately remove them from danger. Just sayin'.