Saturday, June 18, 2011

Out Of Control

The title of this post is not referring to the fact that I have skipped the chocolate tonight and headed straight for the wine. The "out of control" part is actually about what drove me to the bottle.

Rebekah is here visiting for a few days. This afternoon, in between rain showers, we decided to go out for a walk. We were almost back to civilization when I looked ahead on the path and standing between us and the end of the trail was a huge German Shepherd. About 15 meters behind the dog was its owner, totally oblivious to the fact that there were people approaching. I took one look at the dog's posture and knew we were in trouble. It was standing perfectly still, staring at us like we were the enemy. There wasn't so much as a twitch coming from its tail.

I said to Rebekah that the dog didn't look friendly and she assured me that it did, and that German Shepherds were nice dogs. I observed that must be why they used them for police dogs. (We Hammonds are a witty lot when faced with danger.) Any question about who was right was quickly cleared up when the dog suddenly ran straight at Rebekah, growling as it got closer. It did a couple of lunges, stopping each time just short of her outstretched hand. (We Hammonds are also apparently not too bright when faced with danger.)

I am terrified of big, aggressive dogs, and this looked to me like it certainly fit that category. Rebekah must have reached the same conclusion because she no longer had her hand extended to pet the pooch. She needn't have worried though, because the dog had turned its attention to me. It did its lunging, growling routine once, then circled around me, opened its mouth, and ran its teeth down the back of my leg. This was the moment when I wished two things.

1. That I had not worn shorts.

2. That I hadn't left my sturdy walking stick at home.

The dog's owner, who we will call Mr. Jerk since I don't know his actual name, finally got to where we were and grabbed his dog. I said the dog had got the back of my leg and he said a casual "sorry", clipped the leash on his dog and looked as if he was going to walk off. I was pretty shaken up and asked for his name and number. I will continue to refer to him as Mr. Jerk since he refused to provide me with either one.

Then he asked to see what the dog had done and when he saw the scrapes running down the back of my leg he said in a snarky voice, "You call that a bite!"

Well. I did mention I was pretty shaken up didn't I? I repeated the request for his name and number, and once again Mr. Jerk refused. I then told him no problem, we would just copy down the license plate number off his vehicle. Then he told me he wanted my name and number and trotted off down the trail with his dog. Yes, I'm confused about that part too.

The kindness showed to me by the Kamloops Bylaw Enforcement officers almost made up for the awfulness of the situation. I was told to take a picture of the scrape. (Don't worry, I won't be posting it.) Details of the story were passed on to the appropriate person and three phone calls later it was all sorted out.  I was asked what action I wanted taken. A warning could be issued, or a fine could be levied. It was up to me. Kamloops has an aggressive dog fine of $300 per incident, and because the dog went after both of us that meant a potential fine of $600.

I asked her if she could see if there had been any other complaints about the dog. There weren't, so I said a warning would suffice. After dinner the doorbell rang and I was surprised to see the enforcement officer standing there. She just wanted to stop by and see if I was okay, and to let me know she had just been to see the owner. The German Shepherd was 18 months old and the owners admitted they had had a few training "issues" with the dog. They assured her that from now on they would have the dog on a leash at all times, and the guy didn't dispute any part of my story, although she said he did seem a bit defensive. No doubt.

Last week after the coyote encounter, which I must say didn't even put my heart rate up, I swore off wearing my iPod while I walk the trail. I realized I need to be able to hear what is happening around me. This dog/bad owner encounter did put my heart rate up. From now my iPod will be staying home but my walking stick will be going with me every time I head out into the bush.

And what on earth was I thinking of when I decided to have wine instead of my daily quota of chocolate? The trauma must have clouded my thinking. What I really need is a glass of wine to accompany my chocolate.


  1. Eek ! And yes, you were clearly VERY shaken. Chocolate AND wine, always, after a shock!

    I must come clean and admit that I have a whippet who would run at you, actually I have five whippets who would run at you, and as I know that this can be terrifying for many folk the whippets have all been taught to return to me immediately I whistle, which they do. Bar the naughty, one who would also bark at you, and who is therefore never exercised off lead where there might be people about. If any of the five were to run at you and actually reach you, well you would be horribly, um, licked ;) But that is beside the point ... there is no excuse for what you experienced and every responsible dog owner knows that. Hope the wine helped and that your leg heals quickly x

  2. OMGosh. What an experience. I understand your fear of big dogs. When I was about 12 a boxer dog bit my finger. I was picking up a friend for summer school and the dog was hers. I still have the scar where the dog bit me. I like dogs, even big ones but am shy of boxers. I'm glad the authorities went to see Mr Jerk and I hope he follows through with keeping the dog on a leash

  3. What a jerk!!! It sounds like he has training issues himself.

    I hope you've recovered from the dog attack and that your leg is feeling better.

  4. I think I would have given him a more "colorful" name. Some people never cease to amaze me. "You call that a bite?" Sheesh!

  5. Oh! And I think I'd do the ipod in just one ear.

  6. @Annie - There are many people who walk their dogs out on this trail and most of them are responsible dog owners like you. It is the few who aren't that ruin it for the others. And thanks, the wine did help. More so after I added the chocolate. :-)

    @Napiligal - A boxer could do a lot of damage! That must have been awful What happened to the dog after it bit you?

    @Tana - His comment was bizarre, but as I have thought about it some more I think it was motivated by fear on his part. He knew he was totally in the wrong and I think his dog's behaviour took him by surprise. Of course, if he had been doing things the right way in the beginning by having his dog on a leash none of this would have happened. The iPod in one ear is a good idea as long as the bear/cougar/coyote approaches me from the side I don't have the earbud in. :-)

    @Jesse - Thanks, my leg is okay. It was a long scrape as opposed to a puncture wound so it isn't painful. The problem was more the attitude of the owner than the actual wound. I think you are right about the owner having training issues himself.

  7. Mr. Jerk is too kind a nickname. He kept compounding his errors. He should have been bending over backwards to apologize for letting the dog run free and then it actually grabbing your leg IN ITS TEETH!!! Wine and chocolate would ahve been a good combo, but I think you showed great restraint not going straight to the hard stuff. =)

    For a moment I thought Rebekah's openness would sway the dog into being friendly. I'm so sorry you two had to go through that experience.

    Yesterday I wrote a post for Father's Day. It includes a story about a large, mean German Shepherd...and the seemingly crazy advice my dad gave me on how to deal with it. I'm sharing the advice because now I think it's amusing--amusing in that when I remembered it and wondered if I should share it with my kids, I started laughing. It is NOT advice I would give to anyone.

  8. oh, i hate people who cannot control their dogs and i hate dogs who are not in control...
    poor you, did the teeth draw blood, and if so did you need to have a tetanus jab?
    i don't walk in the bush, but an Irish country road has plenty of doggy horrors, as folk sit inside watching TV while their dogs are loose on the road, barking and growling at innocent walkers.
    I take a stick with me, also a bottle of water with a sports top, i imagine i would use it for a quick squirt of water into their eyes if necessary. never happened yet, but i just get so scared by the thought of the dog rushing at me...

  9. Yikes, the more stories you tell about your walking adventures, the less I want to accompany you! ;)
    I would have freaked out completely had that dog approached me, because I'm very afraid of unleashed dogs (I was bit once by one). I've had a HUGE loose dog approach me, totally oblivious to his owner calling, "Come here, BEAR, come here now!". Does not give me much confidence.
    I think bear spray is in order when going on the trails, don't you think?

  10. Your stories convince me I need to live in Valleyview, do my walking there and end up at Starbucks :) How frightening for you!

  11. @Ric - You are exactly right about the guy compounding his errors. That was a large part of why I was so upset. Too bad you hadn't posted your Father's Day story before i went for the walk. I could have tried out your dad's advice. :-)

    @barazile - It makes me feel better to hear that there are others that are nervous around big dogs. A walking stick is definitely the answer. When I went out today I was carrying mine with me. The dog didn't draw blood, so no tetanus shot was needed. Thankfully!

    @Aneta - I better stop writing about my adventures or I will never get you out to walk with me! Too funny that the person's huge dog was called bear. Not so funny it was approaching you while the owner called it.

    @Maureen - I am afraid I have put both you and Aneta ever walking with me again. Valleyview has an even bigger danger than big dogs - lilacs!

  12. Now you see I wasn't kidding about the advice being crazy. Sometimes my dad was so paranoid about making sure we were careful (like when driving or using power tools) and other times he encouraged us to walk head first into danger. His dad died when he was just 9, maybe that had something to do with it. I understand a lot about him, but I wish he'd shared more stories about his life to help fill in the gaps.

    PS - I forgot to mention I think it's GREAT you were witty in the face of danger. =)

  13. I am glad that you are okay. I'm still nervous around aggressive dogs because I was knocked down and bitten by one when I was five.

    The owner was clueless and not acting appropriately at all.

  14. @Ric - Ha! Sometimes I wonder if we are a witty bunch, or a half-witty bunch...

    @Kate - It is amazing how many people have had bad experiences with dogs when they were kids and have kept that fear with them when they got older. Two thumbs down for clueless dog owners.

  15. This is painful but good story. Definitely, two thumbs down for clueless dog owners.

    You gave me another good idea. I'll try chocolate and wine tonight.

  16. @keiko - Chocolate and wine are a wonderful combination, and you don't need to have had a traumatic experience like my dog encounter to enjoy them together! They are nice any time. :-)