The Problem with Pooches

You may remember my neighbour from the posting entitled “Secret Trails and Hidden Ponds”.  The neighbour with the old high school photo ?  Remember him ? Yeah ! OK, so I generally start my day with a 10 – 20 minute visit to his garage (I could populate an entire blog with the silly-ass stuff that went on in that garage over the years).  We chat about our actions from the day before, and about our plans for the day before us.  In the Summer, I can tell when he’s “ready to receive guests” by the open garage door.  Come Winter though, I have to go on time of day.  Generally 9:00 a.m. is best, if his truck is still there.  I can usually tell rather quickly what kind of mood he’s in, or at least what kind of morning he’s had thus far.  This morning, I got there before he came out, so I slammed the gate hard (so he’d hear it inside the house), walked into the garage, and sat down.  He wandered out and, without a word, takes a seat in the old wheelchair beside the welding torches (don’t ask).  Before I can initiate the conversation, he says “You ever wonder why all these old guys walk dogs ?”.  Before I could enlighten him with my take on the question, he says “I’ll tell ya.  Lock the wife and the dog in the car trunk for an hour, and see which one is still happy to see ya when you let ’em out. I surmised he’d had a rough morning with his wife, though to her credit, my wife found it funnier ‘n hell when I told her.

My Dad had quite a collection of hats.  That was ‘cause he made a cue ball look shaggy-haired and unkempt.  I thank God daily for my Mother’s genes which still provide me the hair of a 20 year old (sans color – true, but there’s still plenty of it for my age).  I have one of Dad’s hats hanging on my workshop wall which says, The More I understand Women, The More I Like my Dog.  I’m told he lived as long as he did, because his dog(s) kept him active.  I can’t remember a week in my Life when Dad didn’t have a dog.  Oddly, he maintained right up to his dying day, that dogs don’t go to Heaven (he believed humans did though).  I kinda think that sucks, but … whatever.  I mean, what the Hell ?  The only real pet I ever had was a Royal Python, and if I believed in Heaven, I’d expect Monty to be there (‘course, I’d never see him, as I’d be the other direction, which I don’t believe in either so …).  Yeah, yeah I know, I thanked God for my Mother’s hair genes earlier. It’s just an expression.  Deal with it.

Anyway, the subject of this posting is DOGS.  Make no mistake, I love dogs. I love dogs more than I hate cats, but not as much as I love any wild animal.  I was talking with another neighbour.  The guy (or so I thought he was a guy) told me how he just loves cats.  I asked him, “Doesn`t cat fur make your vagina itchy ? “  It took him a second to catch on, and then he repeats in a high, whiney, little girl’s voice that he just loves cats.  I really have no idea why the guy even talks to me.

One might think by the wording of some of my postings that I don’t like dogs, but I can assure you I adore them.  Mind you, I prefer real dogs to, well, rat-dogs.  But any dog will soften my heart.  It’s their owners I can’t stand. I seriously doubt any dog is born an A-hole. The A-hole dogs are compliments of my fellow (?) Man, the dog’s owner/trainer.  While on the subject, can someone please explain to me why dog owners feel compelled to gather – up their pet’s excrement in a plastic bag … and FLING IT UP INTO A F****ING TREE for everyone to enjoy ?  For centuries to come no less.  Preserved in a petrochemical polymeric time capsule.   I appreciate the reason for bagging it.  No one likes stepping in your GD mutt’s crap (as I did just yesterday, you son of a … ! ).  OK, but really, the grossest part has gotta be picking up a mitfull of fresh, steaming excrement with nothing more than a flimsy plastic bag between your hand, and your beloved pet’s little package of joy.  So, once that delightful task is complete, how the hell is dropping it in a garbage can, any more disgusting ? 

Sorry, a “pet peeve” of mine that is.  Anyway, the real problem I have with dogs is when their owner/trainer allows their pet to become a hazard to society. I got no problem with a friendly happy dog, greeting me on a trail with a watchful owner/trainer in tow.  What I have a problem with, is when I drive down a public road (which the wife and I walked a few months earlier), and my truck is beset upon by 2 Hell hounds which left their property, and literally chased my truck back up the road.  The one on my side was jumping up at the window (which I had closed when I heard them approaching) with snapping jaws.  What if those 2 dogs had come after the wife and I, as we walked that public road a few months earlier ?  We were on foot, with nowhere to run, and no way to defend ourselves. OK, yeah, I’d sue the owner’s ass off, but that wouldn’t make mine grow back any faster (or more beautifully).  Then, the very next week, Ranger and I are attacked (in the truck again, thankfully), by another dog nowhere near the ones the week before.  That’s two totally different locations and dogs, but same situation.  Had we not been inside a steel box, we’d have been in a nasty spot.   As long as I’m in the truck, I have no fear, other than running the stupid mutt over when I can’t see it.  So, when I spotted it off to the side I took the opportunity to floor the accelerator and lose the mutt.  Sure, we laughed once I threw on the inertial dampeners and slowed ‘er down to sub-light speed at the stop sign.  OK, to be honest I always wanted to bury the pedal in that truck on a backroad, but it did the trick.  Pooch just stood there, shocked and awed, with an expression of “WTF was that ?” on its face.  We laughed, yeah, but what if ?

Well, I’ll tell you, what if.  I felt vindicated in leaving pooch in a cloud of dust as it was better than the alternative.  The alternative being the dog repellant spray I’d purchased not 3 hours earlier.  Well, not really an alternative, as I’d never use it if I didn’t absolutely have to.  As stated earlier, I don’t believe in bad dogs, just incompetent owner/trainers and I’d much rather spray the owner/trainer.  However, the owner/trainer isn’t the one looking to dine on my ass, at that particular junction in space and time.  So, poor ole pooch pays the price for doing what he/she thinks they’re supposed to do.

Anyway, before all this, I hit the web and looked up the various names by which the stuff is called.  I read everything from, “yeah use it to spice up yer BBQ burgers”, to “you will be arrested if you’re lucky, otherwise God will dump a big ole crap on you from heaven above”, to, “it’s not really pepper spray dude, it’s some kind of natural ingredient, so that makes it OK to use”, to “some guy robbed a bank in Vancouver with that stuff, so don’t walk into a bank with it”.   Sound advice indeed, and uhh, by the way, pepper is a natural ingredient … dude.

I remember finding a small spray canister on the floor of the reception hallway at my workplace a few weeks before I retired.  I showed it to the Commissionaire and asked if he knew what it was.  He told me it looked like pepper spray.  Being a rebel (OK being a few weeks to retirement), I thought I’d give a small squirt to see how it worked.  What could they do ?  It’d take more than a few weeks to fire someone at my level, so I`d be gone before they could. I let go a quick spray in the hallway, and leaned forward, sniffing for a trace of pepper scent.  As I did, the entire World flipped upside – down and I damn-near passed out.  My eyes burned like seven hells, I thought I was gonna suffocate, and I’d have sworn my nose was melting.  My lips went numb and then my whole face went numb.  It was all I could do to stumble backward and steady myself on one the reception hall couches.  There, I began a sneeze-festival which kinda helped with the earlier inability to suck air into my lungs.  A few minutes later, my terribly confused “fight or flight” responses started winding down.  I walked the far way around the reception hall for the remainder of the day, as everyone reported an eye-burning/sneezing sensation when they took the North hallway.  I don’t know what the concentration of capsaicin was in that particular canister, but I have no doubt a rapist would gladly be gelded rather than get a second shot of that stuff.   I didn’t even get a full blast aimed at me !  I just sniffed the area it was sprayed into !  The instructions on the canister I purchased warns to “back away after releasing spray”.  Back away !!?  Hell, I’ll be running like my ass is on fire.  I’ll be running faster than if I didn’t have any spray, and my ass was destined to become butt-chow for a Rottweiler.

I guess what I’m saying is that I have an idea of how nasty this stuff is.  I’d hate like hell to have to use it, as I don’t want to hurt any creature (including myself if the dog attacks from up wind).  But I know what to expect better than a dog will, so I should fare somewhat better.  I’m not suggesting everyone get a canister of this stuff and go all Jason Bourne on the canine population with it. If you do get some, be aware.  It’s not a deterrent; it’s a very cruel and ugly weapon, and like all weapons, it will hurt you as readily as your intended victim.  Weapons have no loyalty, and possess no honour.  As well, keep in mind that having a canister, doesn’t make you “armed”.  What you have is a spray can about the size of a disposable cigarette lighter that sprays 0.5% capsaicin a few meters in front of you.  It’s not an AK-47.  I’ve never clearly defined the difference between stupidity and bravery, so don’t be either.  If it feels like trouble ahead, put it behind you and find somewhere else to walk.

Also be warned, if you do manage to use it effectively, the owner may be right behind the dog, and they always sincerely believe their dog would never attack anyone.  Our prisons are full of mothers’ sons who “would never do such a thing.  Not my baby”.  The sight of their dog writhing in agony while you stand there unharmed, makes a plea of self defense rather weak.

At the same time, any dog owners who might be reading this, be warned also.  There are more backroad hikers these days than ever before.  You are expected to keep your pets under control and on your own property.  If there’s any doubt in your mind, the local police, or your legal counsel will explain it to you fully.  Finding out where you stand legally, after an incident, doesn’t work so good.


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