In the 30+ years I’ve been running, I’ve (literally) run into a skunk, nearly run into a deer, been flashed by a strange man on a country road, run off the road by a crazy driver who had it in for runners, “accompanied” by countless loose — but friendly — dogs, yelled at by teenage boys, and stared at by unbelieving passersby. On a frigid, snowy day, when it was safer to run than to drive, a man in a pickup gestured wildly at me as if I should get off his road.
But nothing…nothing…not even the flasher…came anywhere near as frightening, confusing, or angering, as today’s encounter with a loose pit bull. I now understand the stories I’ve read about pit bulls attacking and killing small children. It can happen.
On the whole, loose dogs just annoy me. Rather, the owners who let their dogs run loose annoy me. But scare? Rarely. On the other hand, I’m glad Mary Ann wasn’t with me today. She’d have been hysterical.
As it was, Fred, Ike and I were out for what we thought would be a long walk on a beautiful, sunny and warm morning. Ten minutes into our walk, we were approached by a white dog with a brown eye patch. That’s what threw me — the pit bulls I’ve seen in the past were ugly and this one was pretty. Looks are deceiving. She first sniffed noses with Ike, who was his usual friendly self…until the other dog got a bit more aggressive to the point where we realized we needed to rescue Ike.
Fred managed to shove the dog aside and pick up Ike, but that just made the dog mad, so he jumped up at Ike. Since he couldn’t reach him, he turned his attention on me.
Silly me…thought my usual stern “Go home” would send her off in another direction. That just seemed to make her more interested in gnawing on my leg.
About that time, I recognized that this was no friendly dog trying to play — she was downright mean — but I kept thinking he’d lose interest. When he nearly knocked me over, I started looking for a tree to climb or an unlocked car. We both headed for the nearest house — we knew the owners — but they didn’t answer the door. I heard a loud knocking but realized that was just my heart pounding as I tried to ignore the fact that a 75-pound dog was doing her best to corner me.
The mind does strange things in this type of situation. Mine was racing, moving from a memory of my dad handing me a spray bottle of ammonia water as I headed out for a run, to “where are the cops when I need them”? Fred seemed mute but determined to keep Ike safe.
Luckily for us, our knight in shining armor — Jayne McGarrity in her big silver Lincoln — came by and stopped long enough for us to jump in — even as the stupid dog continued to go for Fred’s leg. It didn’t end there. The dog chased the car down the street. My usually non-violent self wished fervently that the dog would somehow wedge herself under the nearest tire.
For us, it is a story that ends safely but will continue to haunt me until I hear from the police that they located the loose dog and reported it to the county. What worries me is that I’ve since learned that the owners have four young children. The family “rescued” the dog but leaves it tied on a clothesline. How is that rescuing a dog?