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.