Let sleeping dogs lie
I eat meat and I don’t coo at pictures of kittens. But I do love animals, in the wild, incredible sense. I am a huge shark fan. When I read stories about shark attacks I end up feeling sorrier for the shark getting the bad press than the surfer who just had a chunk taken out of his thigh.
The only animal I am afraid of is the toad. Ridiculous I know. I’m not talking about those little shitty-brown English toads (although I wouldn’t like to be in a lift with one). I mean those orange
and yellow and brown and green mammoth tropical jungle toads, the size of footballs. Urgh. I once stayed at a beautiful campsite in Brazil littered with them. They were so big they could climb steps, I kid you not. I ended up partying a lot those three days because I couldn’t bear meeting one on the walk across the grass to my tent in the dark. They were everywhere. So I stayed out and danced on bars instead.
My point is, is that if you are coming towards me with your pet llama/warthog/python/ostrich I’m still going to stop and say hi. And if you’re someone with a regular walking pet, like a dog let’s say, you’re not going to bother me.
Well, I just might have changed my mind. Most dogs I have come across in my life, on streets or while running and hiking off the beaten path, have been pleasant. Dog barks can be fearsome, but generally the bigger the dog, the more satisfied it is with being big (and being able to bite your hand off if it wanted to) so they chill and wander on, sniffing and wagging their tail.
The other day I was running by the river and went to pass a couple and their very little dog; it was a barely-past-the-ankle yappy thing. These are even less menacing. They remind me of those battery-charged toy dogs, jerking about fiercely and getting nowhere. I find little dogs like them a bit un-dog like. They don’t bother me because they aren’t real dogs. The mice that live in my basement could take them on.
And then this one started on me, chasing up to me like a demented robot and barking like a soprano singer. I mean, it’s not really a bark. It’s never WOOF from one of these dogs.
One of its owners, a doddery old man, started to get a bit panicked, like he knew it was really a runner-killer and tried shouting at it to come back. I kept running, hoping that my legs which were 865 times longer than its four little stumps would soon run past it (without treading on it of course). It kept the pace, pulling its teeth at me and going for my ankles. I mean, good call on that one – at least they were in reach. I tried kicking my heels right up behind me to put it off; the old man continued shouting at it; it wouldn’t give up the fight, snarling around my laces trying to trip me up.
Animals have all those extra senses: they know when we are scared/guilty/happy/sad. They know when we just want to run away. This little yapster saw me coming and knew I thought it was a pointless specimen of a dog. So it was teaching me a lesson. Think I can’t bite you? Think I’m not scary? Think I can’t make you run faster? I may be little but… YAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPPY-YAP!
Eventually, our little four-legged friend ran out of puff. It probably felt sorry for its owner who had run out of puff ages ago and was trailing behind, not even shouting. I was now pretending to run in and out of tires, knees high, arms pumping. But no rest for me; once I knew I was in the get-away phase, I burned on until I got safely to the top of the bridge and the noise from the river drowned out the yelping: See? See what I can do? I may be little, but…
I ran back via Germany, so my little running route troll wouldn’t be waiting for me on the return. I haven’t seen it since. But I’m ready: I believe you are a real dog.
Now, can I run and let’s let sleeping dogs lie?