I am the owner of a lovely Alsatian dog called “Livi”. She is a very gentle dog and doesn’t bark much. She lives in the midst of the Zillertal mountains, at the Grawandhütte in the Zemmgrund in Ginzling. It is here that she spends her summer with my boyfriend who runs the hut.
When I visit at the weekends, I walk with Livi to the Alpenrose, Waxeggalm or the Berliner Hütte. With her leash on, we head up the gorge. We encounter the first cows on the meadows of the Waxeggalm. They are fenced in and so pose no threat to either me or my dog. As we continue to the Berliner Hütte we pass a sign “Warning! Mother cows with calves. Please keep dogs on their leashes. If in danger, let the leash go.” Here the cows roam freely and one is lying in the middle of the path. We go around the beautiful animal, leaving plenty of space and everyone remains calm and happy. Soon afterwards, we come across several cows standing by a gate which we need to open. Livi gets a little nervous as the cows start to approach us. I let go of the leash and Livi bounds up the path. The cows watch her as she goes and I can pass without any problem at all.
I know how my dog will react in these situations because I know her and her temperament. It is just important to remember the following three rules:
1. Respect the space of the animals on the alms
Who was there first? Hikers with their dogs, or the cows and other animals of the alms?
We are just guests, the cows live here the whole summer and have done so for several years. How would you feel if you were sitting in your private garden and a herd of cows suddenly paraded through?
2. Have respect for mother cows
Those little calves are really cute as they graze in the meadows. It’s understandable that everyone wants to stroke a calf and take a photo with it: it’s the perfect holiday snap. But before you do, consider if you would let your baby be stroked by strangers? You would immediately come to your child’s defence, just as the mother cows do. And cows are usually stronger than people.
3. You are a guest on the alm
We are only guests on the alm and we have to behave accordingly. When a cow is lying on the path, it is allowed to do so. Simply go around it, leaving plenty of space and nothing will happen. You should also avoid walking through the middle of meadows. How would you feel if strange people walked through the middle of your house? Always, keep to the paths.
Do I keep my dog on the leash or not?
This question is best answered by the individual dog owners who know their dogs the best. However, in principle, the answer is: yes, dogs should be kept on leads! If you find yourself in danger, let go of the leash so that your dog can run away. Cows aren’t as fast as a dog. If your dog is very scared and hides behind you, then you should run away and your dog will follow you. You are also faster than the cows. However, never attach your dog’s leash to your body as the cows cannot distinguish between person and dog but will think you are one being.
Just by following these rules and protecting and respecting the living space of our animals, it is certainly possible to achieve a peaceful coexistence between people, cows and dogs at the most beautiful locations around Tyrol. Always remember, we are the guests and must behave accordingly.