Saturday, May 8, 2010

Confrontation in the Woods

There was a confrontation in the woods on Friday. This is not my preferred setting for a confrontation. Give me a city sidewalk over a relatively isolated section of forest any day, if a run-in is on the agenda. I won't even walk in a remote place unless I'm with my dog or another person. I have pepper spray and I am afraid to use it.

I was in the woods on Friday because my favorite thing to do for exercise these days is go on a hike that takes me about an hour roundtrip from my front door (I mean it does now . . . a few months ago, it took an hour and fifteen minutes . . . I'm just saying). A couple blocks away from my house is a trailhead that begins as an off-leash dog area but quickly turns into an on-leash dog area. However, the on-leash area is really an off-leash area as long as you can control your dog. The trail ends at the back of a golf course. It's one of my favorite areas to hike because of its close proximity, luscious forest, and dog-friendliness. You do have to keep an eye out for mountain bikers who can take you out before you even have time to scream. Also, poison oak is an issue. And you can get lost - I've taken a wrong turn there more often than I care to admit after several years. Look, just realize . . . my favorite nature walk is freaking dangerous. Check it.

But it's also Happy-Earth-Day beautiful. Nature-is-my-church beautiful. Ewoks-could-live-here beautiful.

In these woods, the standard exchange between hikers is pleasant. Dog owners are considerate - though dogs and mountain bikers can clash for obvious reasons - the whole people-with-or-without-dogs situation is usually ALL GOOD. However, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE ON FRIDAY.

My dog Sadie and I were more than halfway to the halfway point . . . just picture a shady forest with lush ferns and fresh air and the kind of mud that smells good, like art class. A small bulldog-mix type ran up to Sadie and I, then began circling us in a really annoying, yappy dog sort of way. I didn't see the dog's owner for a bit, but she eventually came running around the corner. There was a chihuahua mix following her closely. She called to the dog that was harassing us as she passed, and said something about getting out of our way. I noticed the runner looked to be in her mid-20s and hadn't exactly apologized for her dog's harassment. No worries. Moving on.

Except the tiny bulldog ran back at full speed in Sadie's face and tried to fight her, as the chihuahua mix followed closely behind, barking all the way. The runner circled back and approached us, explaining that the chihuahua mix had a "barking disorder." She called to both her dogs and they ran off again. I wouldn't say I was annoyed at this point. Whatevs. Dependents can inconvenience everybody. I know this. But really . . . Barking Disorder?

But then . . . we met up with the jogger and her dogs again as they were coming back down the trail. The bulldog mix totally attacked Sadie. Actually, she barked threatenly at her, passed her, came back and attacked her, took off, returned and attacked her again and didn't stop. Meanwhile, I was yelling . . . I stepped over Sadie and hit the tiny attacker between its eyes - not too hard. But it wouldn't stop biting my dog. Meanwhile, the jogger was slowly collecting her chihuahua-mix dog and making her apologies.

I was done with her lame apologies, but I didn't know it until I screamed a foot away from her face, "Put your dog on a leash! Put your dog on a leash!" and then to really drive the point home, "Dang!"

The lady replied, "I'm working on it." Not a lot of enthusiasm. Or a lot of sorrow. I do not accept her apology.

I wish I would have said, "Fuck you, Bad Dog Parent!" like a normal person.

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