Grist to the Mill

12 January, 2006

A Tale of Lunacy

So, it was about 4.00pm and I was cyling along the towpath to get the post office. To my right was the canal/river (never quite sure which, there's a conglomeration of waterways where I'm living), made inaccessible by a three-foot wire-mesh railing. To my left were some not-great flats and a narrow cutting leading to a small estate of housing association flats and an old people's home.

At the bottom of this cutting, a medium-sized aggressive dog was snarling, barking and 'worrying' an Asian male in his mid-to-late 20s. The dog had its hackles up and kept running forward at the man, as if about to attack or jump up at him. The dog was entirely focused on this unfortunate man and was devoting all its energies to barking and growling at him. I think the dog was a boxer dog. It was one of those ugly, solid, muscular dogs, about mid-calf height. As I approached this scene I slowed down slightly to see what was happening. The man was desperate to be rescued from the situation and said to me with endearing optimism, "Is it your dog?". I replied that I was afraid not. At this point I made a fatal error - stopped to talk to him.

As the dog was evidently not going to let this man proceed any further along the towpath, the man was stuck. The dog would not let him walk past. I suggested he throw something for the dog to distract it and send it off in another direction. The only problem was, we were next to a river, not in a park. Sticks and balls were in short supply.

Since I've never had a dog in the family home and know nothing about them, it was entirely foolish to slow down and help this bloke out. I felt so sorry for him, though, I couldn't whizz past and leave him to it (well, I suppose I could have...).

Anyway, my lack of expertise was a great boon for this man, because the dog swiftly transferred all its aggression to me and seemed to lose interest in the other man, who slipped away. Cheers, pal! The dog was running around the front of the bike, barking, and jumping up at my legs. I had no idea about the best thing to do. I considered it for a minute and then, without warning, slipped into a low gear and sped off like a bullet, moving rapidly down the gears. The dog seemed to think this was a great game and ran next to me, barking and snarling all the while. Hmmm.... What to do?

I decided to take a hair-pin bend and join the main road, willing the dog to follow me and run into the path of the heavy, fast-moving traffic. That would have been a satisfying conclusion to the game. Alas, the dog gave up the chase.

Moral of the story: helping people only works in controlled situations. Also, don't get involved with angry dogs.

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