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Tie a yellow ribbon on a pet-safe community

A dog uses its nose to sniff out warning signs in its environment. You can look for a yellow ribbon on a leash to warn you whether or not a dog needs space. - Andrew Leong/file
A dog uses its nose to sniff out warning signs in its environment. You can look for a yellow ribbon on a leash to warn you whether or not a dog needs space.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Not too many locals know about the Yellow Dog Project.

But it's out there. Keep your eyes open on the Cowichan trail for a dog owner sporting a yellow ribbon attached to her dog's leash.

That yellow ribbon signals many scenarios but most important one is this: the dog attached to the leash with the ribbon needs space.

"It's not uncommon for dogs to be reactive and have fear issues of various kinds. There are other situations, too, but the bottom line is if children and adults are taught to look for a yellow ribbon, they can avoid potential stress or worse," said Mike Lane of Duncan's PAWS & Claws pet store

That's why this project has his enthusiastic backing.

"The goal is for everyone, pet and non-pet owner alike, to be aware of the message a yellow ribbon on a leash provides," Lane said. "More and more people are finding out and the more the community gets behind sharing this vital information, the better.

"This is a fantastic way to help adults and children to learn which dogs are safe to approach and which aren't, without confusion."

Lane and the crew at PAWS & Claws are providing yellow ribbons to dog owners for free as part of a national project.

"There are so many reasons and scenarios that warrant a dog sporting a yellow ribbon," Lane explained. "Perhaps the pooch is a rescue and has little or no social manners so he's in training. A dog may be recovering from a health issue and is not at her perky, friendly best.

"Sometimes guide dogs in training should not be engaged," he said.

Pet owners shouldn't feel embarrassed by a yellow ribbon, quite the opposite, says Lane.

"I personally think that people should get on board for the obvious safety value," he said. "When it comes to companion pets, dogs in particular, things can happen so quickly. Because there are a variety of reasons for a pooch to need extra space and because actions and reactions can escalate rapidly it just makes sense to have a universal way to communicate.

"A communication that instantly informs one and all that this dog needs and/or does better with more space. That instant communication can save our pets, our children and ourselves a lot of stress (and worse) that can be easily and simply avoided."

Cowichan SPCA is aware and also supportive of the Yellow Dog Project, Lane said.

"We're printing and posting posters and of course anyone can pop by Paws & Claws for a free ribbon," he said.

For more information on the project, click here or visit this Facebook page here.

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