Lured by the nice weather, I decided to go running again the other night. Big mistake! I had only made it about a block into my route when I heard the menacing growl of a devil dog. “Man, that dog sounds mean and mad; thank goodness for fences,” I naively thought. There is a fork at this point in my run, and I can go one of two ways. The bone-chilling barking was coming from one direction, so just to be safe, I chose the other.
Nerves and fear can play tricks on you, in the dark, all alone, but I could have sworn that, though I was running away from the noise, it was getting louder. I glanced over my shoulder, and was horrified to discover the dog: (1) was not inside a fence, but in an unfenced front yard; (2) was bigger than even my wildest imaginations would have allowed me to contemplate; (3) had no owner or other human being in sight; and (4) was coming at me at a dead run.
I am not usually scared of dogs. I love animals, dogs especially. I pet and greet and romp and play with them as frequently as occasion will permit. But squatting down to pet a friendly dog, on a leash, with its owner, in the middle of the day, is much different than this was. This was 90+ pounds of charging nasty, and I was in no mood to have vital appendages removed by force. So I did the only thing I knew to do; I ran for the nearest tree.
Now, I don’t know if anyone in our humble readership has ever attempted to climb a tree at a full sprint, but it is not easy. And I am even pretty good with trees, but it was dark, the lowest branch was high, and the cantankerous canine was right on my A. I leaped, I grabbed…I succeeded (if by “succeeded” you mean scraped the crap out of my bare arms and only managed to get myself about one foot off the ground). “SNAP!” I heard, but (mercifully) did not feel. The dog had reached me and was attempting to chomp at my calf. I jumped down to face him like a man (unfortunately, like a man without a dog whistle or pepper spray or a night stick). The dog was running around me in increasingly smaller circles, growling and snapping and snarling. Not knowing what else to do, I began speaking soothingly: “it’s okay, buddy. Everything is fine. Just relax. It’s okay. It’s okay.” Even now, I’m not sure if I was talking to myself or the dog.
He wasn’t calming down, though. He was getting closer. Louder. And (if possible) meaner. Just as I was beginning to wonder what effect a guillotine choke would have on this mongrel I heard:
“Bronxie, come here boy!”
An owner. Or, at least, another potential victim. I thought I was safe. I also thought “man, I’m glad I didn’t actually climb that tree, because I would feel really stupid right now!”
But the dog kept circling, paying no heed to his master. He just kept circling, circling. The owner was still a block away. And I saw in the pooch’s eyes that he was going to make his move. He stopped right in front of me, all of a sudden, reared up like a freaking wild mustang, this stupid dog, took his meaty paws, and pounded me right in the…well…right about where you would expect a mean dog standing about three feet off the ground would pound you. It completely caught me off guard and knocked the wind out of me. But then the stupid mutt ran off, so at least there was that.
“How’s it going?” I asked his worthless owner hoarsely when he finally caught up to me. “Not good,” he said, “I’ve been chasing that stupid dog all night.” As if chasing that vicious thing could possibly be worse than almost being eaten by it. Maybe he was just worried I was going to sue him or something. Get a freaking leash, man. Get your stupid dog under control.
I waited until their chase was well past me, and then turned and jogged off in the opposite direction.
Any pointers for dealing with these encounters going forward? I can only tolerate running outside, and would rather die than run on a treadmill. Or at least I thought I would, until that became a real possibility. Maybe it’s time to give up running entirely. For my health.