The Time I Ran From Dogs

running_dogs

I spent much of my youth being terrified by dogs of all types.

A tiny yappy Chihuahua, a fluffy lap dog, a big slobbery Great Dane, it didn’t matter. I was scared of them all, and convinced I’d one day be torn apart by canine teeth.

I’ve already mentioned how I was raped by a chocolate lab, but that was not the first nor the last time I’d be humiliated by man’s best friend.

Years before that incident, I was walking in a field with a friend when a Rottweiler appeared in the distance. It advanced towards us, drool flying as it ran in a full sprint. We soon realized that its intentions were not friendly, and we broke into a run ourselves. I swear I have never run so fast in my life, and my innate fear of dogs propelled me far past my friend. I figured the slower of us would be the first target, and I sped as if my life depended on it. But our pathetic flight was no match for a full-grown dog, and he caught up with us in moments. I could hear his ragged breath behind me, but my legs continued to pump with a mind of their own. Suddenly, the breathing noises stopped, and I glanced behind me, assuming my friend was being eaten. The dog had stopped suddenly, letting us escape. It turned out that we had been inadvertently trespassing, and the owner of the land had released his dog to chase us off his property. He sicced his dog on two 8-year-old girls. The dog had been trained to stop dead at the edge of the property, and it sat there, alternately panting and growling at us.

I also had another friend growing up whose house resembled a zoo more than a home. The house was a historical landmark, and so renovations were limited by law. It had central A/C, but was heated by a single wood-burning potbelly stove on the first floor. The children spent free time chopping wood and tending the fire, and sleepovers involved shivering on the upper floor under a foot-high stack of blankets. The family had three dogs, three cats, three rabbits, and two horses. The cats and dogs ran free using pet doors, the rabbits had a hutch larger than my bedroom, and the horses lived in a large pasture. The property itself was so large that each family member had their own small motorbike they used for doing chores during the day, and there was a full-sized teepee in the middle of the yard for relaxing. I learned to ride a Pocket Rocket bike myself, and promptly crashed it into a fence my first time out. The family was friends with the caretakers of neighboring Peterloon Estate, which meant us kids got to explore the 1200 acres of land, complete with gardens, fountains, and woods. I even got to go inside the 36-room and 21-bath mansion once, which was pretty spectacular. Outside, we’d get a group of 10 kids and play flashlight tag at dusk in a landscaped area straight out of The Secret Garden.

Anyway, the three dogs at this house were somewhat…temperamental. There were two large Siberian Huskies, one of which was semi-feral after living life mostly outdoors away from the family. Named Koshka, the Russian word for “cat,” the dog frequently snapped at and tackled me, growling in my face as streams of drool dripped onto my forehead. The other Husky, Ivan, was more tame, but would chase after our motorbikes and often launch himself in front of the wheels in a sort of bizarre suicidal game. I’d wrench the front wheel to the left or right, usually causing me to spin out or crash into a bush. I burned my leg more than once on the hot exhaust pipe when my bike fell to the ground, pinning me underneath. Ivan would gambol about my prone body, yelping in excitement at the smell of burning flesh.

Sophie, a Husky and German Shepherd mix, was the most friendly and tame of the three, and was the canine that finally got me to overcome my fear of dogs. She liked to play, but was never overtly aggressive, and her mismatched eyes would look into your own with an air of curiosity and intelligence. Plus she was super cute, and since she never once tried to rape or kill me, she got an “A” in my book.

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