Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dog-Gone It!

It is widely proclaimed that dogs are man's best friend, forever ready to lavish unconditional love and attention to even the most neglectful of owners.   To a bicycler, however, this loving bundles of fur can become a threatening menace....regardless of how cute or little they may be.
I rounded a curve the other day, going at a pretty good clip, and spied this little lovely hiding in the weeds....

"Oh, no",  I thought, "This dog means business"....he was lying in wait for unsuspecting prey....and I was very much afraid I was the prey....
"Dog, right", I yelled as I approached his hiding spot, while holding my line as a car passed by me.  The dog sprang from his lair, and bolted in my direction....instead of going after me, however,  he chased the car, barking and growling at the tires.  He soon tired of pursuing the oblivious vehicle and turned back towards me.
"Oh, here it comes",  I thought, "I'm next and will be much easier to catch!"

If dogs smile, this one was grinning.....a huge grin. (Better to eat you with...)  He was having the time of his life!  As I drew closer, I prepared to defend myself and revved up my speed--I was on mental and physical alert. The adrenaline began to pump.  Still smiling, the darn pooch didn't even look at me.....he loped back to hiding spot in the grass, and waited for the next car to come by to attempt another ambush, still smiling.....   Realizing I wasn't his intended prey, I felt bold enough to backtrack and take his picture--with the threat gone, he really was quite cute.

Texans were quite conscientious of their dogs, and are careful to keep them safely confined.  Not so here in Louisiana; the dogs run loose, or area chained up outside.  The latter I never understood; why have a dog if you are going to leave him chained up and alone---they are pack animals and need to be in the company of other dogs or humans.  Leaving them hackled to a tree or dog house is akin to solitary confinement.  The alternative here in Louisiana is to just let them run loose.  The worst offenders seem to be those that reside in trailer homes.

Again, I was cruising down a country lane, not a care in the world, when suddenly my world exploded with the yipping bark of half a dozen dachshund and chihuahuas chasing me. These guys couldn't even reach my pedals, but they were sure they were going to take me down.  I guess if they chose to get under my wheel, or into my spokes, they would... but 'yip, yip yip' they cried until I was well past 'their' property.
The next event wasn't quite so humorous.  It was early morning, and out of nowhere a huge Rottweiler mix was on my heels snarling, barking and snapping.  Startled, I screamed like a girl (oh yea, I am a girl), and yelled to Pam, who was just in front of me "Go, Pam Go!"  I didn't have to tell her twice; she pulled away from me as if she had rockets on her bike.  "No", I yelled at the frothing mouth, "Go home."  And, lo and behold, he did.

Encounters with dogs are frequent now, happening several times a day.  Of course, the fear of being bitten is always there, but there are other, bigger dangers.  One is the instinctive swerve one is inclined to make as a dog attacks, possibly sending the rider into traffic or off the road.  The other is crashing if the animal should actually come into contact with the rider or his bike; one does not need a vivid imagination to picture all the possibilities there.  The third is that the dog may actually get hit by a car for doing what dogs do (chasing prey) and having irresponsible owners.

There has been much debate about how to handle these encounters.  Some say to stop peddling--that the motion mimics running prey.  My survival instincts tell me to peddle faster!  Others blow whistles; some squirt water from their water bottles.  Me?  I just yell 'go home' and "no".  It seems to work.....actually, if truth be told, as soon as I move beyond their yard, their territory, they give up the chase.  Their job is done; they have successfully protected their property.

Well, I am the last one is 9:00, so I must sign off for now, get ready for tomorrow and sleep....


  1. WOOF!!!
    -your secret friend

  2. Your comment about the dachshund remineded me of the ones that lived near us in Dtown growing up. Yip, yip, yip. I've never liked them since. You go, Ms Packleader!