Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Saga Continues - Neighborhood Dogs, Part 2

After the last post, I had hoped that the dog encounter I wrote about was an isolated occurrence. I did however, go buy a pepper spray canister that I have carried with me on my walks ever since. I mulled over carrying one of my smaller pistols, but decided that I was overreacting.

I hadn't even contacted the HOA yet. I didn't, because, being the "nice" female personality that I have been trained into since childhood, I started to question myself. Was it really all that bad, and was it worth turning my neighbors against me to make a formal complaint? It's male surgeons who are supposed to curse and throw things and give people a hard time - not female pediatricians, right?

Turns out, the answer to that was yes, it was that bad, and I should have cursed and thrown things. Because Thursday evening, (4 days after the last dog incident), even though I changed my route to avoid that street entirely, I experienced an even worse situation with a different dog on a different street.

I was climbing a long hill, and approaching a house that often has two dogs tied in the front yard. They were there, and I had my hand resting on the OC canister clipped to my fanny pack in front, because even dogs who are tied can lunge and get loose.

It was then that I heard a snarl from behind me, and it registered that I hadn't passed any other dogs back there. As I turned, a big light-colored dog from a completely different house was bearing down on me at a dead run with his teeth out. I had less than a second to react, but I turned to face him and yelled at him as I backed up into someone else's driveway to try to make space. I was shouting and pressing desperately on the OC button - while nothing happened with the damn thing. The dog was within a foot or so of me, snarling and getting ready to grab me - I was physically prepared to be bitten - when the owner started yelling and calling the dog off from down the hill - like at least 40 yards away. Yes, I was zero threat, yet this dog sprinted 40 yards to attack me. The teeth-on-legs hesitated for a long second, and then turned and ran back down the hill.

I don't know how long I stood there, but the adrenaline rush started draining, and I started to shake and cry. Somewhere in there, the other owner at the other house must have come out and brought the tied dogs inside, because they were gone too. 

Not a soul came from anywhere to help me, or apologize, or ask if I was okay.  It was 7 pm on a beautiful evening, and suddenly everyone disappeared. I have rarely felt so alone and abandoned. I was a mess. I think I even yelled an obscenity down the hill at the direction of the dog and owner.

I finally realized that I shouldn't just stand there, and I started backing my way up the hill so I could watch the direction the dog had gone. I was so rattled though, that I wasn't even sure which house I needed to worry about.

I finished the loop to get home, but I don't really remember.  I was physically unharmed but I was decidedly not okay. This was different than the last episode. The dog on Sunday was weighing his options and vying for an advantage, which I tried my best not to give to him. This dog, however, was dead serious, and if the owner had not called him off, I would be in the Emergency Room. While I probably would have just pepper sprayed the first dog, this one I would have shot if I were armed. I'm sure of it. I can see the angle in my head, and it was point blank to the dog's face. I was literally in fear of life and limb, and it rattled every inch of me.

After I got home and showered some of the panic and adrenaline away, I found an email contact for the HOA. In my email I pointedly mentioned that since this was the second incident in four days, and the pepper spray had failed me, that I would henceforth be armed. You want to know what the incredibly galling response was? The HOA president attempted to threaten me with calling the police if I fired a shot in his neighborhood - because "there are kids here". 

Seriously? I informed him that if I were forced to discharge a firearm to defend my life and limb from a dog in this neighborhood, that the first one to be calling the police would be ME - and the second call would be to my attorney. And I further informed him that I have raised children here for 18 years, and if he was truly concerned about the welfare of children, that he should be worried about the dogs, and not ME. I was livid.

I only slept about 3 hours that night. It's now the second day after, and I haven't done any more walking yet. I need to get a different, more user-friendly pepper spray, and TEST it first. I also need to figure out what carry rig I'm using for the spray and which gun I'm carrying.

As far as the OC goes, I need to figure out why I couldn't get it to work. I realized after the fact (the next morning) that the clip was still clipped to my fanny pack. In my panic, I had ripped the whole damn thing away from the body of the canister. That may have been what caused the malfunction, but if it is, then the thing is poorly designed and I need something else.

Another lesson learned as I'm processing all of this, is that if I am going to carry a firearm, I need to practice more strong-hand only scenarios. I had the OC in my strong hand, and was reflexively getting ready to fend off with my left arm. If the OC were a firearm, I would really have only had time for strong hand anyway. Once I realized that the OC wasn't spraying, I tried to add my left hand to make it work, but by then the owner was calling the dog off. It all happens slowly in my mind on playback, but reality was a second or three at most.

This episode rattled me in a way that the first dog incident didn't. The first one just pissed me off. This one actually shook my confidence. I think it's because not only was this dog even more vicious, but also because the defense method I employed failed me. I was helpless. And that is one of the worst feelings in the world. Thank God it was "only" a dog, and not a human being, who was trying to hurt me.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Neighborhood Dogs

I feel a rant coming on, and it may offend some of you, so be prepared, because I'm pissed.

I was chased by a neighborhood dog this morning. I wasn't carrying at the time, but I may have to start. Either a pistol or bear spray ... Or both.

I have been exercise walking for a couple or three miles a day in my development for the past three months. It wasn't much of an issue when the weather was cold, but now that it's getting nicer out - the dogs are out too.

I don't mind if your dog barks from inside the house or yard as I walk past - there isn't much you can do about that, and he's waking YOU up, not me. But this dog jumped the fence and took off after me. As soon as I saw him, I used my best guttural command voice and told him to GIT, and GO HOME! Fortunately he hesitated and broke off, but then he tried to sneak up behind me. I turned to face him and commanded him again. He got within about 4 feet of me, but when I challenged him, he backed off again. He tried a third time, and then gave up and took off in another direction. There was zero activity coming from inside the house while this was happening. They didn't even know that their dog was gone. I was PISSED.

Don't get me wrong - I like dogs. That is, I like well-behaved and well-trained dogs. You may say, "Awww, poochie-kins was just playing with you".

And my reply to that is BULLSHIT. I don't know your dog, and he doesn't know me, and if your dog is out of your control and CHARGING me, then he is a THREAT until proven otherwise. Are we clear on this?

This is the first time I've actually been charged. But it's not the first time I've been challenged by someone's dog while out walking. Just last evening some lady with a big white bull terrier hybrid on a leash put me on alert. She was standing there messing with her phone and had only a tenuous hold on the leash. All the while, her dog was eyeing my approach intently while his muscles were tensing. I gave them both as wide a berth as possible, and kept both eyes on the dog. (Hers were elsewhere). Fortunately, I made it past with only some growls and barks from Mr four-legs, but it would have taken nothing for him to jerk that leash right out of her hands, and he'd have been on me in nothing flat. The leash gave that lady merely an illusion of control. In the end, it was the dog's decision to leave me alone, not hers.

Most dog owners have even less control over their animals than they do over their kids. And I just want you to know, that if your dog attacks me, it WILL be put down - by animal control , or by me if I have to.

End Rant.

**Edit to add...
After I composed myself, I did drive back over to that house and rang the doorbell. I was polite, introduced myself, and described the dog. The fellow who answered the door confirmed that this was their dog. I (again politely) said that I wanted them to know that their dog jumped the fence and came after me this morning. His response? "Oh yeah, he does that." ...

No apology, no explanation, no offer to take steps to prevent future occurrences.

I was flabbergasted. 
My response? "Well, you might want to fix that situation, because the next time, I'll be carrying bear spray."
I did not mention that I would also be contacting the HOA and Animal Control if it happens again.