Yesterday morning I decided I’d take Jazzmin walking through the “Doggy Gauntlet.” I originally discussed why I call it this in a post back in April entitled (appropriately) “The Doggy Gauntlet.” Feel free to click the link to read the post.
I’ve walked that particular area enough times that I thought I knew where all the dogs lived. I discovered during our walk yesterday that I was quite wrong. Jazz and I had made it peacefully by all the homes with known dogs without incident. People were at work and their dogs were confined inside or away at doggy day care. Confident we were safe, I stopped in the shoulder of the road so Jazz could do her business. No sooner has she finished when I heard a deep growling approaching from behind us. Uh oh!
Pulling Jazz close to me and holding her leash tight, I whirled around to face the oncoming dog and found it to be a pup that must’ve been a mix of mastiff and something else. He had the height of a mastiff but not the big jowls and he was a quite handsome blend of brindle and white. I took all that in rather quickly as he came running, growling and barking at us from the house across the road. I’d never heard or seen a dog at that house before so I was rather surprised.
Many thoughts whipped through my head in quick succession as I stood in the shoulder of the road with Jazzmin behind me. Foremost were “Oh crap! Big dog! Eeek!” Thankfully, I’m pretty good when faced with a crisis so I remained calm and silenced the panicked voices so I could focus on the useful voice in my head. The voice and advice came from someone I’d asked almost 2 years ago what to do if a dog came running at me. All I could remember was something about looking and sounding tall and yelling…what was I supposed to yell??? The only word that would come to mind and come out was “NO!” The moment I yelled that in my biggest, most authoritative voice, the dog stopped running at us and looked confused and taken aback. He’d slowed but he kept coming so I stood my ground and kept saying “NO!” as I held Jazz behind me. My voice was obviously doubly intimidating because both the big dog and Jazz obeyed me.
The dog was partially wagging his tail and had stopped barking and growling as he stood 5 feet from Jazz and I in the road. I don’t judge dogs negatively by their breed or size and I think he just wanted to play but I had been told by the owner of the voice in my head that having two dogs meet head to head wasn’t a good idea. Not to mention this dog probably weighed two of Jazz so “playing” might have been tricky. Having heard my yelling, the owner of the dog finally stepped out his side door and called the dog back.
Grudgingly the dog left us and trotted back across the road. For once the owner didn’t try to reassure me by shouting “Oh, he’s friendly!” I’m sure the owners mean well when they say that but when their dog has just come charging at Jazz and I barking and growling, it’s hard to accept at face value. It really would be better for everyone involved if they kept their dogs on a leash or safely confined by invisible fence. Thankfully I knew what to do when faced with a charging dog and it worked but not everyone who walks by will possess that knowledge.
After that bit of excitement I was very proud of myself for standing my ground and of Jazz because she didn’t try to lunge out in front of me or emit a single bark. I was so pumped with adrenaline and endorphins that we made record time on our six-mile walk! It helped that the road was relatively flat and mostly shaded but I was impressed with us nonetheless.
Yesterday morning proved to me that the voice in my head can be a saving grace when I need it most. Somehow in the turbulent waves of my mind, that important piece of advice popped to the surface and I was able to do exactly what I needed to. Among the swirling whirlwind of my mind there exists a calming force, a stabilizing anchor, a rock that grounds me. It began with my father’s influence and continues with a powerful, living presence I feel very fortunate to know.