I am going to get right to the point today. Thesis statement, right out of the box, is this: If you are a dog owner, then please, for the love of Pete, (or more appropriately, for the love of Petey, that dog from the Little Rascals), keep your animal under control.
I am a dog lover, I always had dogs growing up, but I have no patience for dogs not on leashes. And I never believe anyone who says their dog is harmless.
You cannot speak for a dog. Ever.
I have my own little pig-trails that I like to walk around here for exercise, but they always say you should vary your route. So last Sunday afternoon, I explored a new route through a different neighborhood. Quiet, country living…houses built into steep lots surrounding a slough of the lake. The road was hilly and thick with trees, a great trek for some serious cardio.
I was chugging down a hill at a rapid clip, approaching a low point, and no one was around. When I say quiet, I mean, it is quiet out here. And there at the top of the next hill, a single black dog appeared. He was not enormous, but he was formidable. Sturdy-looking.
And he was eyeing me.
His tail twitched back and forth slowly. I had seen that dog before. He had charged my children in our front yard while they were playing, and its owner called him off. At that time, I spoke frankly with the owner, who now keeps the dog on a leash when they come past our house. But this was not my neighborhood. Not my territory. I didn’t know that dog lived over here. I was out of my league.
I cannot recall that many times in my life that I have felt the cold grip of fear around my heart, but I felt it then. Defenseless, alone. The bottom dropped out of my stomach. Jesus, I whispered, help me. I was praying for the owner to appear at the crest of the hill, but the owner was nowhere around.
What do you do in this situation? Do you keep walking toward the animal, as if you’re not afraid? You’re not supposed to show fear. But there was no way I was going to keep heading straight up that hill. I looked for a stick, but there was none nearby. My mom carries a walking stick with her on walks, a stick that she dubbed a name that I cannot repeat here, but it’s pretty funny. I was desperately wishing I had that thing with me.
So I turned around slowly and began walking in the other direction. And we’re walking, we’re walking, I chanted to myself.
On the pavement behind me, I heard the pounding of paws.
Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump.
Was it his paws or my heart? I wasn’t looking back to see. I was bracing myself for…
A wet muzzle nuzzling my right hand. Relief flooded through me. Thank you, Jesus. Rover doesn’t want to kill me. He just wants to play.
But I did not. I wanted to get away as quickly as possible. Rover began to bounce playfully around me, impeding my pathway. And then the obnoxious jumping started. Big milkbone paws on my chest, over and over. Down, up. Down, up. “No!” I said. “Down!” Still no owner around to call the dog off.
I kept walking, and Rover eventually contented himself to trot along beside me, until we reached his house, where his little companion dog erupted with a “Ba-ROOOOO ROO ROO ROOO!” bark, calling him home, and he thankfully left my side.
Happy ending. But it might not have been. I know this is the country, and it could be that the rules are different here. Maybe they’re not.
I’d like to know. ‘Cause I was skeered.