I have never been afraid of dogs. I have a diploma in Animal Care and worked at an Animal Hospital for a while. Not to mention, I’ve been around dogs for a long time and have two now – one being a Yellow Lab. But, I moved to the country when my mom died and then in 2008 started running. That’s when my fear of dogs began.
On a few occasions I’ve been chased by unfriendly dogs where the body language was clear. They meant business. One occasion I was running with a friend and her dog and two large dogs, in a pack situation, charged us from quite a distance off their own property and bit my friend’s dog. I had another run-in with the same dogs while on my own. I was their focus at that time. Every time I had a problem I called police or animal control, who did nothing. But the last time I called the police and was crying and screaming into the phone for them to help me. They sent nobody. They did, however, call my useless animal control person. He, in turn, called me to ask who the dogs belonged to and their address. Oh, and that was the next day. As I said... useless. I believe he did give that family a ‘warning’. Great eh?
Although I love to run outside I figured that my running days were pretty much limited to a treadmill after all this. Then, I felt some hope from this defeat/victim feeling.... ‘dog deterrent spray’. Seemed the perfect solution! It’s legal, small enough to carry and only lasts about 15 minutes, I’m told. Just be sure to be upwind, I understood. Was it that simple? No!
I was nervous right from the start but I feel that everyone has the right to run safely in a public place. I took the spray outside with me and decided to spray it into the grass to put it to the test. Checking the wind, of course, first.
I sprayed. It was a cloud, not a stream, that I saw shoot out just as the wind changed to swirl around me. I turned my head quickly away but not quick enough. I got some in my right eye, nostril and side of my mouth. Ugh, not nice. Now that I’ve felt the affects could I do that to an animal that threatened my wellbeing? Yes, definitely. However, I’m not sure I could take the chance of endangering myself further by the possibility that I spray myself at the same time! My skin still was still irritated an hour and a half later and although I washed my hands twice it was still under my nails when I scratched my eye.
I still went for my run but was nervous and only lasted about 20 minutes. I kept looking around me and didn’t get to enjoy it. Why should I have to be scared and feel like a victim? Why, when something happens, do I have to be the one to get into my car and find out where the dog lives and give the animal control person all the information? It’s like being victimized again!
Back to the treadmill, I guess.
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