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6.03.2011

OF DOGS AND MEN

I don't have a strong opinion about dogs.  Some dogs I like.  Others, not so much.  Humans can follow suite as well. My daughter has a dog, a Papillon named Fenley after Fenway Park and Wriggley Field.  Fenley is sparky, friendly, little, lively, loving and licky.  Growing up on a farm I had a few dogs.  The last one being a Norwegian Elk Hound named Mitzi.  She was a beautiful, thick furred, fun loving, scared-to-death-of-storms dog.  Her sport was chasing cars and keeping up with them for a considerable amount of time.  Us girls may have fostered her love of chasing by constantly playing a chase game with her.  Part of that bred's characteristics are that they love extreme exercise - tracking, hunting, running.  In fact, in running they can keep pace with most things.  We used that great ability in play with her.  Once, as I was holding a hot dog in a bun getting ready to take a bite, she ran by grabbing the whole hot dog from me with such speed and quickness that I was startled and amazed at the same time.  She devoured it while in motion as she bolted away!  Our house as a kid was flanked on one side by a farm that had two HUGE German Shepherds.  Riding bike past there was an exercise in seeing how quiet you could be without rousing the beasts while fear that gripped your very soul pounded inside your chest.  I often thought the dogs might actually hear that pounding inside my soul!!  At the other end of the road was another farm house owned by an old lady.  She had, before Rottweilers or Pit Bulls dominated the dog to people fear chart, Doberman Pinchers - two in fact.  They would lie in wait in the ditch across from her property, on their bellies, waiting to leap forth in a surprise attack to chase, mam and bite.  About a quarter of a mile before, I would begin ratcheting up to a Mach Five bicycle speed hoping to break the sound barrier before hitting the ditch where I knew they were lying in wait for me.  Complete terror would fill every muscle while adrenaline propelled me to speeds that would make Lance Armstrong look like a candy ass.  A passionate mantra coursed through my head as I frenetically pedalled, "I HATE THESE DOGS!  I HATE THESE DOGS!  WHO OWNS DOGS LIKE THIS!!   I'M GOING TO DIE!!"  Living in the neighborhood I presently abide in, there are dogs galore - people walking dogs, running with dogs, dogs in fences.  I've never really had issue with any dogs on my running routes no matter the time of day I run, until recently.  Well that is, until my husband came into my life:)  Several months ago while out running the back trek home a friendly and loving black lab, who must have escaped his owner, decided to keep pace running beside me for about a mile and half.  Soon a van pulled up, the door opened, the owners called his name and in the van he jumped.  I was not harmed in the lab run and actually thought it was funny that a random lab ran right beside me for a time.  Not long after that, again out on a run, I rounded a street to see two dogs wandering aimlessly with no owner nearby.  Immediately they turned, the one friendly and not really bothering me.  The other one, charged me several times as I stopped to face it.  Not being able to get him to back off I began yelling as loud as I could hoping to rouse the careless owner who may have been nearby.  That didn't work - no one came to rescue me or call the dog away.  I began charging and yelling at the dog full steam taking a huge risk that it would back fire on me.  Thankfully it didn't.  My husband, also having running in his history has had some bad experiences with dogs which have left him somewhat skittish and distrustful of most dogs who wander about unattended.  He has been chased and charged by a Pit Bull and bitten by a dog before.  Many times we will walk in the late evening just enjoying each other's company, unwinding in nature and ending the day as such.  As we walk I have noticed that at times he isn't really listening fully to me but seems distracted by the sound of a chain, the cacophony of dogs barking in the neighborhood, an owner and dog coming toward us on a walk.  I assured him recently that he didn't need to worry - as long as I had lived there and ran I really hadn't been bothered by dogs.  No worries I said, I wouldn't let anything happen to him.   As we rounded the street a dog came at us.  Not in a friendly, I just want to say hi sort of way - it came aggressively.  The owner was actually standing nearby not calling the dog back as I said, "You better get control of your damn dog!"  I have a tendency when things are clearer than clear and someone isn't getting it, to be off the chart blunt and bold.  There are leash laws in the city I live in and they were not being abided by in this case.  Dogs are dogs - designed not stay put if off a leash or not inside an underground fence.  People are people with supposedly brains way more highly developed than animals.  That owner wasn't using his.  Last evening around 9 p.m. as the air stills and carries sounds like a microphone, we went for a stroll.  We were eating a popsicle, laughing, and enjoying the last bit of the night.  I could see Doug bristle as he heard the sounds of dogs carried in the dense night air.  I assured him again that all was well and not to worry.  Not long after that exited my mouth we watched a woman walk out the front door of her house and cross to the other side of the street towards her car.  At about the same time two dogs came charging at us.  One was small and fairly harmless.  The other was a mix of German Shepherd and big.  He growled while running straight at us, hair up on his back.  I glanced at the woman at her car knowing they had to be her dogs.  She did nothing - did not call them, nor did she say anything to us.  We stopped and began the circle dance of trying to keep the big dog in front of our line of vision as he wanted to attack from behind.  Before I knew it he had jumped my backside while Doug was trying to pull me back.  In an out of body sort of experience I really wasn't angry at the dog even though I knew he was attempting to attack and bite.  My eyes though were transfixed watching the woman standing there doing nothing.  I snapped as I raised my voice at her, "Are these your dogs??!! You need to call them back now!!!  CALL THEM BACK NOW!  You need to keep control of your dogs!"  She seemed to not care as she responded, "The small one won't hurt you."  Hmmmmm.... the small one won't hurt you.  WHAT ABOUT THE LARGE ONE TRYING TO BITE MY ASS!  We again did a circle dance trying to keep the dog at bay as it lunged to get behind us.  She lamely tried to call the dog and walked toward it.  It was no more going to listen to her than it was us.  As we finally extricated ourselves from her and the dogs and walked home, we were shook.  After my husband's run in with dogs while running he always carried a knife on runs.  He proclaimed that he would not walk again without a knife.  I was far more angry at the owner.  Dogs are animals - just what the name implies - not civilized, not Pulitzer Prize winners, nor rocket scientists, unable to read a book, or diagram a sentence.  They are bent towards raw behavior that can't always be controlled unless you are Cesaer the Dog Whisperer. That's why there are leash laws in populated areas. In that house I'm not too sure the people were a whole lot more with it than the dog.  Animal control might not have clearly known who to take in when it arrived at 3317 ___________  Street.

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