B and I, minding our own business on our daily walks, have been attacked by all sorts of dogs – the blue-gray hound with the high-pitched wail, the chocolate brown dachshund who lurks, waiting for us, beneath a parked car, and twice by the snarling pit bull with the oblivious owners.
After the second incident with the pit bull, I gave in. Clearly, pleading with the owners, screaming at the top of my lungs (a surprisingly girly sound), and calling Animal Control had little effect. So we changed our route. B and I now cut down another street and make our way to the park – where we still might by accosted at any moment by a variety of other off-leash menaces.
At least, this is my fear.
The dogs who run up to us in the park are often benign, tails wagging, no doubt attracted by B’s friendly demeanor and his wet brown eyes. If we’re with Will, he’ll take care of the approaching dog, calling him off, yelling at the owners (who always, always, seem shocked that their dog won’t obey their commands. “But he never does this! I don’t know what’s come over him!”), and in general, offering protection.
But at least half the time, it’s just B and me. And B is never scared – at first. He looks with mild interest at our neighbor’s snarling German shepherd, he wags his tail when a little Yorkie tries to take a bite out of his ear. Ever since the second pit bull incident, I feel like we’re walking targets. I’m extra vigilant, constantly scanning the area for the enemy.
And so I bought pepper spray – a purple, phallic-shaped canister that bulges strangely in my pocket. It works quite well, as I learned from pulling the trigger in my kitchen and then coughing for an hour.
Only a week later, I used it on a dog – a German shepherd mix that charged at us from out of nowhere when we were on the edge of the park. B, in typical B fashion, didn’t notice, but I heard him coming – picked out the particular jingle of a dog collar, the pounding of feet on soft grass. I whirled around, holding the pepper spray like it was a gun and the dog was an intruder in my bedroom.
“Stop!” I yelled, figuring a warning was only fair. The dog was maybe 20 yards away, and it was impossible to read his intentions. “Halt!” I ordered in my best Nazi imitation. No reaction. Well, you stupid dog, you give me no choice. I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger.
When I opened my eyes a second later, our attacker was about five feet away, spinning in a confused circle. He kept snapping his jaws in the air, like he was chasing a fly. He turned to face me again and I gave him another shot for good measure. After a yelp, he took off in the other direction.
My heart had somehow crept into my throat. I slid the pepper spray back into my pocket, and then I felt a tug on the leash. B was looking at me – enough, already. It was time to get moving. From a little farther on, a tree was calling to him.
Paula Treick DeBoard