Hi Clara, Yes I have considered that possibility. It’s a risk I accept. But there are some things that mitigate the risk:-
1. She is a Cockapoo of a very common colour, and there are lots and lots of those around here.
2. The heath/woods are 3 miles away and the local dog-walkers where I live do not tend to go there regularly, they are spoilt for choice closer to home.
3. Locally – within 2 minutes walk there are 2 large open sites/woods that the locals frequent daily, and a new “forest” within walking distance, and a pedestrian “lane” that connects them and a number of footpaths all together. We live right on the edge of town adjacent to the open countryside.
4. I keep a weather eye open for anyone I recognise. I have found it quite easy to pick out someone I know even at 400 yards or more.
5. I know the area as intimately as I know my intimates! I know every trail/path/hiding place/escape route/vantage point/bush and tree. I can disappear in seconds. She is off lead but sticks fairly close by – separation anxiety is a known Cockapoo trait – if I move off she always follows.
6. I assume they might think they recognise the dog, but they wouldn’t associate her with a woman they don’t know! I mostly rely on this to keep from being made.
7. People are generally not interested in me walking my dog. They are either walking their own dog(s) – and so keeping an eye on them, jogging, cycling, or horse riding, and minding their own business.
8. I mostly go out earlyish – around 08:00 – and there are less people around (the locals are walking doggie closer to home before work or the school run etc.)
My next door neighbour out on his bike shot past us once and didn’t make us. I am quite happy that the risk is very small, and the benefits far outweigh this very small risk.
I guess if you have two or more dogs you are more conspicuous.
Just another woman walking her dog, Stephanie.