Local woman Anita Ellsworth walks Marley, her Labradoodle, without a leash every day. Usually she cruises through her tree-lined Lakewood street, with her commonly-named pet in tow, without using any restraints.
Even though it is against the law, Ellsworth continues to walk her pet unimpeded. "He has never hurt a fly," she said. Ellsworth paid $350 for Marley as a puppy, and the dog has lived a life of luxury and attachment ever since. But after this week's episode, Ellsworth will think again before flouting the legal system.
On Thursday evening, during her walk with Marley, she took her usual route down Lakeshore Drive, passing three other dogs named Marley on the way. Ellsworth's Labradoodle walked passively, paying these dogs no mind.
That is when disaster struck.
Across the street, neighbor Fall O. Rools was walking his German Shepherd, Ness, on a leash. Rools is a retired fireman, and his dog is a former police dog from the K-9 unit. While Ness is no longer on active duty, he clearly had some fight left in him.
Marley crossed the street, and approached Ness, as Rools tried to warn Ellsworth to keep her dog away. Ellsworth was sure she knew exactly how her dog would react in every situation, but this time the animal did something unexpected, as animals often do.
Ness is trained to take down criminals and approaching dogs alike, and Rools worried what his dog might do to another that approached without a leash.
Ellsworth yelled across the street, "Oh don't worry, he's friendly!" Ellsworth is not a dog trainer or expert, but felt that her dog would listen to her every command in every situation, and never thought she would need a leash. She sees leashes as a harmful and unnecessary encumbrance.
Rools again warned her that his dog would not react well to the approaching animal, which is why he had crossed to the other side of the street in the first place. Marley approached, barking in Ness' face, and Ness bared his teeth to the off-leash canine.
The former fireman attempted to step between his dog and Marley, but Marley maneuvered around him and moved in too close to Ness. Ellsworth watched passively from across the street. Marley gave one last bark in Ness' face and Ness sprung into action, his old training kicking in with devastating affect.
Rools was forced to punch his dog in the face in order to get him off of the leashless instigator. Ness let go, but the damage was done. Marley had lacerations on his neck and ears, but will be fine after a visit to the vet.
"There is a reason for the leash law," Rools said. "Now my neighbor knows."