Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who Let The Dogs Out?

"Nice doggie" - famous last words

I like dogs. They don't seem to hate me but I'm no "dog whisperer". When I run and I see a dog ahead of me I know that nothing good can come out of that encounter. The best I can hope for is to be ignored. The smaller the dog the bigger the problem. Even if the small mutt is actually friendly, it might make a sudden move and I might crush its little paw, right in front of its owner. Big dogs mostly just want to sniff you out (literally) and run between your legs, but there is the occasional Cujo that will scare the living bejeezus out of you.

In our training groups, we have had some wonderful dogs that became a member of our group. We all fell in love with Tamara's dog Mahogany and Mahogany seemed to love all of us. I have never seen a dog so well behaved, or one that loved to run as much as him (her?). Mahogany would stay right next to Tamara, eyes fixed straight ahead, and unlike many of my running companions (or myself, for that matter), he never complained. Unfortunately, Mahogany went to dog heaven. Not too long after that, Tamara showed up with Diesel, a Great Dane that looked like he needed a saddle. He was huge. But just as well behaved and just as accepted as one of us.

But, most of the time, an encounter with a dog will be enough to cause your heart monitor to start beeping "out of HR zone". It's seldom you'll encounter a feral dog. Usually, it's the owners that think Lassie is just spooked by YOU, and YOU should be more considerate and let their dog bite your leg! Actually, they like to say "He won't bite!". Well, he's putting on a frickin' good act like he's going to!! Once, running down Old Rocky Ridge Road, two mongrels came screaming across the lawn at me like Al-seeking dogs. After screaming like a girl and jumping up and down, I saw the (toothless) owner sitting on his porch, smoking a cigarette, smiling at the scene. I'm definitely not an advocate of shooting somebody, but my mental needle shifted closer towards "acceptable".

The most effective method I have found to thwart an aggressive canine is to bend down like I'm picking up a rock. Usually this stupid acting job is enough to cause Fido to slam on his paws and retreat. If that's not enough to convince him, then I continue to a deeper level of my acting ability and raise my right arm like I'm going to fling this imaginary rock right into his side. I'll also say "Maybe I have a rock in my hand, and maybe I don't. In all the excitement, I've sorta lost track myself. So, Punk, I guess you have to ask yourself do you feel lucky today? Go ahead Fido, make my day!!". Now, usually Fido has backed up with a stare trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing and by now I'm too far away to deal with. Also, jumping up and down yelling "Go home" sometimes works. I think this works better if you're 6'4" tall instead of 5'6" like me.

Once, I was running down South Lakeshore Drive and a Doberman came running down this huge lawn towards me. I was about to go into my "rock" routine, when one of my synapses said "Wait! It's a doberman, fool! You raise your hand with your imaginary rock and he'll rip your arm right out of the socket". So, I stood frozen still and let him sniff anything he wanted to. Long after he lost interest and trotted home, I took my first breath in 10 minutes and I was able to whimper away.

I've never been bitten while running, but I'm always afraid I will trigger its hunter instinct (if a pug dog has any that is). Saw the other night on the news, two bad rifle-wielding dudes trying to rob a convenience store. These tough guys were run out of the store by Paco, the killer Chihuahua. Funniest thing. Bet these guys would rather go to jail than to face there hysterically laughing buddies!

I've learned two important things: NEVER try to stare down a dog. Once I tried to stare down a German Shepherd , kind of like "You picked the wrong runner today Rin-Tin-Tin". That dog showed his teeth and growled - when I came to, the dog was gone!! The 2nd thing is dogs are very territorial. If Bad Dog is sitting on his porch, go to the other side of the road...slowly!! Dogs love to chase running things! Either you are a threat or a potential morning snack. Never turn your back.

So, there you have it. As I said, I don't hate dogs, but when I'm running...alone...on a dark morning...zoning out, I just don't have enough ticks left in my ticker to handle Rover sneaking up along side of me and saying "Boo" in dog-talk! Guess it's better than a bear in the woods. Hope I never have to write a blog about that. Well friends, that's it for this week. I hope you all your doggie encounters are pleasant and I'll see you all on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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