Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dog "Attack"...and Ultrarunning

Today the bride dropped me off for my run, on her way to work, as we've been in the habit of doing.

It was a glorious fall day, nothing but blue skies and brilliant sunshine.  I was running on Helman Road, more or less, east to west, thus the sun was directly behind me.  Since it was soon after sunrise and the sun was still low in the sky, the shadow I cast was quite long.

In fact, geek that I am, I stopped to measure it.  Noting that the shadow of my head reached a roadside sign, I then paced off  the distance as being about 30'.

Anyway...as I was running, just kinda zoned out, thinking about everything and thinking of nothing--you long distance runners all know how that goes--all of a sudden I saw a large shadow looming in my shadow.

Dog immediately astern!  Evasive maneuvers!  I had no chaff or flares to decoy him with, so I just stopped, wheeled around and faced him.  He stopped in his tracks as well and we eyed each other up.

The news was good: I could see rather quickly that he was curious and not menacing.  Talking soothingly ("Good dog!  Good dog!") I stooped to try to make up to him, but he was skittery, barked some, and backed away to a safer distance.  You could tell he was wanting to be a buddy but just was too unsure of this strange runner on the road.

Right about then a young man from the farmhouse nearby came out to check out the barking and tried unsuccessfully to get the dog to come to him.  I finally walked across the yard to the porch so the man could get ahold of the dog so I could proceed unimpeded.

That objective completed, I return to the run, which proved to be uneventful the rest of the way home.

The link to Ultrarunning is that many of us do much of our training on roads and thus frequently encounter dogs.  Not so much in the backcountry, where most of the dogs you see are under the immediate control of a hiker. 

Here's what I do to help even the odds in the unlikely event of an actual dog attack.  I carry a flat folding knife in case a dog encounter goes south. I began doing that after I was cornered on a rural road by a pair of roving Rottweilers--fortunately for me, right near a farmhouse.  As one dog circled and tried to get behind me, the other kept me busy in the front.  All the while I was hollering and just in the nick of time the owner popped out of the house and called off the dogs.  It could have been ugly.

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