I really don't have a fear of dogs.  Would I though remain totally calm if a pit bull came running toward me?  Probably not.  But, I don't fear the average dog on my runs, walks or bike excursions. I really don't have much fear in regards to creatures or critters that can be encountered while out in the wild.  Maybe I should.

I've seen some grand animals in their own environment; bear, rattlesnakes, elk, antelope, coyote, deer, beaver, fox, turkey.  There is something magical about getting to witness them out in nature. It's also a humbling experience to be a part of that natural world.  When I am partaking in the grand out of doors I am fully in the animal kingdom's world.
It's their habitat.  I sleep inside four human built walls with electricity, heat, and a bed.

On a walk over the weekend my husband and I ventured to the field north of where we live.  There is a make-shift path/trail around it.  On the one side that faces Granite Mountain is a rickety fence that keeps the cows from leaving the rancher's land and entering our subdivision and the adjoining field.  The east straightaway of the trail is near the road.  Give me a trail, a path without houses or people or traffic to run on any day.  I love the quiet of nothing but me and my feet hitting the path.  That's why I love that field - it's wide open, peaceful, free of distractions and reminds me of my growing up on a farm years.

Both yesterday and today I ran that field path as it was nearing sunset.  Heading down the small hill near the fence and the cows I spied two women and a German Shepherd walking a distance ahead of me.  It would appear they were letting their German Shepherd roam free without his leash.  I had a quick dialogue in my head, [Let them know early that I am coming up behind them so they can leash that dog]. 

I did just that.  About 40 feet behind them I hollered, "Don't want to scare you!  Coming up behind you. You might want to get a hold of your dog."  It wasn't that I was scared of being bitten, I was more concerned that they didn't know I was there and I would startle them.  And I sensed their dog would think me a human running ball and chase me as I passed them.

They quickly obliged and clipped his leash back on and held it as I ran past them.  It was a smaller German Shepard that appeared held back only by their strength and the leash.  I thanked them as I went on my way up the small incline that would let me exit the field.  No harm.

Today as I began the descent down the hill on that same route, a man with a huge German Shepherd was walking toward me.  It was not a small shepherd, but the breed of German Shepherd that had a head, nose, mouth, and feet that put Kujo's size ferocity to shame.  As I neared the man and his dog, the owner quickly grasped the collar and leash so there was absolutely no slag in it as I ran past them.  The proximity of that massive of an animal was a bit startling.  The owner though had handled it correctly.  I called out, THANKS!!

On the home stretch leg of the path I came up behind the same two women and their smaller German Shepherd as yesterday.  I did not call out my coming up behind them warning today though I sensed they didn't know I was there until I ran between them.  Their dog was again off leash and ahead of them. I felt a rush of anger at them walking a dog without a lease where others partook of the same path.  There are leash laws here! 

That dog did just what any dog would do when someone running passes by them - he ran after me.  I had no desire to try to outrun a German Shepherd nor probably could have I.  With my anger rising, I stopped and turned my back to the dog as he jumped up on me.  [If I wanted a dog to run the trail with me I'd have one - put it on a damn leash!]  Part of my anger welled over the fact that they were careless with their animal around others.  Part of it was over the fact that I had to stop my run and try to get the dog to stop chasing me.  The other part was their casualness to our interaction.

They were totally oblivious to how runners feel about loose dogs - angry that we usually have to stop our run till the owner gets the dog away from us.  I don't like stopping a run period.  Nor do I like having to stop it because of someone else's inept and careless behavior. I started running again with their words ringing loudly, "Oh he just wants to play. He won't hurt you!"  Whether that was true or not I was not convinced.  If I wanted to play I would not be out running alone!!!!!!  You play with your own damn dog and not on a trail with others.  Leash laws!

He started chasing me again and jumping so strongly on me while I ran that I had to stop yet again.  I turned my back to him as he continued to jump up reaching my shoulders. I was getting red hot with anger. These two women had made little attempt to coral this German Shepherd nor were they abiding by leash laws designed for the safety of others and ultimately the dog as well.

I stood still, continuing to shield myself from this ginormous dog as he jumped with power, until the women reached me.  I knew I could not take off running again until they had leashed him.  They were wasting my run time, causing my timing to now be off, interrupting the flow of a run. 

Not one word did I say to them [my mind was holding back quite a flurry of words and wrath all centered on them] as they pulled him off me.  I just glared at the women with silence and a look of disgust. Though it wasn't the kindest of interactions I could have given them probably, it was at the very least the kinder of the two options that I was going to give them! 
As I ran away, I turned and looked directly at them and just shook my head.  I was hoping my quiet but angerful body language would speak volumes without the words.  I was attempting to stay my fury inward.

Tomorrow I will go back there. Tomorrow I will not be quiet.  If I run into them and their German Shepherd they will gain a new fear of runners and a contact from animal control. 

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