Nothing inspires terror in my heart faster than a dog running loose. I believe that in a past life, I was once hunted down by dogs. They chased me relentlessly as I tore through fields and woods, fearing for my life, very Willow-esque. Their angry barks and snarls flew through the air, precursors to the pain I would soon feel as their long, sharp teeth tore through my skin and ripped off pieces of my flesh, eating me alive. I just know that this is why the sight of a loose dog sends me into a panic.
I have been lucky lately that during my runs, I rarely encounter dogs running loose. Perhaps this is why I continue to run the same, safe routes, although my mind aches for new scenery. It’s difficult to break down and take the risk of running down new streets knowing that there will come a time when I will encounter a dog. He will bark, he will growl. He may (probably) chase me. If the stars align correctly, he will attack my leg or arm or whichever limb is flying freely most closely to his face. I will scream. Help will not be near. It will be a battle between me and the dog. Please, I beg whoever is in charge of letting these kinds of things happen, don’t let it be a pit bull.
Why do dogs feel the need to chase, anyway? This I just don’t understand. What do you want from me? I’m not bothering you. I’m not running on your property. Why must you terrorize me? I actually did run into a dog on my run not long ago. It was a new route (see! I tried a new route and what do I get!? A heart attack!) down a long and twisty country road. Beautiful scenery, but about halfway through the loop, I see a creature out of the corner of my eye. He is probably at least two hundred feet away, but he sees me too. I know not to look at him. I know to mind my own business and pretend he doesn’t exist. For a few minutes I think I’m in the clear. Just when I start to breathe easier, an eruption of barks and snarls tears through my sunny day, sending me on high alert. My heart rate doubles and my body instantly goes into fight or flight mode. The dog flies by behind me, barking and growling the whole time, so close he creates a breeze as he passes within inches of my calves. I hear him gallop loudly as he quickly does a 180. I know he’s turning around to attack this time. I think my heart will explode, and still I do not look at him. He’s too big to simply kick in the face as I imagine doing to any dog shorter than my knee who tries to bug me. I think he’s a golden retriever but my eyes have been trained so decidedly on the road I can’t be sure.
By some miracle he no longer pursues me. The panting subsides. Perhaps he grew tired, and didn’t want to bother with the chase. Perhaps he’d just eaten a large meal of kibble and shoelaces from other runners he’s taken down. Or perhaps, and I feel that this is the most likely explanation, he was simply doing his duty by pretending he was ready to eat me and making me pee my pants. He got his runner for the day. Inspiring fear in runners is his God-given dog-duty. A+, buddy, now I have to run three miles home with wet shorts.
On the bright side, I subconsciously sped up the rest of the run back, dropping an average of fifteen seconds per mile and giving me a PR on that 7 mile route. However, I’m not sure if it was worth it. I haven’t run that road since that day, and there's not a golden retriever out there (who’s safely corralled behind a sturdy fence) who doesn't get the stink eye from me.