Twice while walking home from work in the dark-it's 5:21 as I write this, and has been dark out for about an hour, I was charged by an angry dog. Different dogs in different neighborhoods...I was just walking down the street...well, up the street is more correct, as I live uphill and about a mile and a half from the office. Minding my own business. Not thinking about danger. Did I mention that it was dark? Since I've been here, I've grown accustomed to walking about without a flashlight. I carry one that I use when I cross streets, or when there's traffic in the spots where there's no sidewalk. But I don't use it just to walk home. I'm not afraid of the dark anymore.
So, last Wednesday evening I was headed home, nearing the top of the hill when I heard the sound of toenails on pavement. Moving fast. In my direction. Yikes! Without even making the decision, I held my umbrella out in front of me, not as a weapon, but as a barrier. I only got a glimpse of the dog - knee high, white face and legs, dark body, and really, really big teeth...the dog was absolutely silent and going for my ankle. Bumping into the umbrella caused it to back up, then it feinted towards my ankle again. Turning, using the umbrella to fend it off, I yelled at it to go away - using my deep voice, not my girly one. Someone whistled, and the dog broke off and ran off. It happened in about 6 seconds. I didn't have to hit the dog, and avoided getting bitten. Two days later, something really similar happed with a large black lab sort near the park...I think I startled it. It came bouncing toward me all stiff-legged and woofing, but didn't get anywhere near as close to biting me as the first dog did. The umbrella seemed to be enough to discourage it from getting close enought to bite. This dog never got close enough to feel truly dangerous.
The interesting thing was my reaction - or lack of one - to both events...Startled, yes. Afraid, not so much. Survival skills, it seems have value in way more ways than I expected. Lessons learned...
- Pay attention to your surroundings
- Notice unusual sounds (toenails on pavement, for instance)
- Trust your instincts
- Carry an umbrella