Monday, July 27, 2009


In the 23+ years I've been transportation-cycling, I've never been bit by a dog... at least to the point where it punctured the skin.

I've had a few stressful encounters with dogs over the years. I've had dog-spit on my pants and socks a few times. Once when I was riding home, a dog actually tore my slacks. I followed it to the house it retreated to, and demanded that they replace my slacks, and told 'em they were getting off easy. (I believe that. If you have a dog-at-large that ends up injuring somebody, you are just as liable as if you injure a bystander with a gun, or a car, or a baseball bat.) They gave me the money... but it was obvious that they were much worse-off than me financially, so I mailed it back to them, and hoped the encounter served as a warning.

For every dog-spit incident, there have been 100 dog-chase incidents. Most have served as amusement.

Up north of Star, there used to be a big house on a corner lot, with a huge lawn surrounding it. A big ol' Great Dane used to sit on the porch. As we approached the corner, he'd take off in an "intercept trajectory," and it was a race to see who could get to the property line first. I always beat him, which was a relief. Even though Great Danes aren't known for their viciousness, he was big enough that he inspired a bit of fear just by his presence.

At the other end of the dog-spectrum, out by Kuna there used to be a little ankle-biter that looked just like Benji, the Hollywood dog. What he lacked in stature, he made up for in enthusiasm... he'd chase us for a half mile, barking and growling furiously! (Of course, we could easily outrun such a tiny fella... and even if we couldn't, I wouldn't admit it. nudge-nudge, wink-wink) Maybe he chased something too big and got under the wheels... I haven't seen "Benji" for a few years.

(For the record - a chasing dog will almost always retreat if you turn on him. Or even if you brandish a frame-pump menacingly, or blast him between the eyes with a water bottle. Be advised - I'd bet that far more cyclists are injured trying to take evasive measures, than are actually attacked.)

Well... I got bit Sunday!

It had nothing to do with cycling.

We attended a family reunion over the weekend. Another attendee - my wife's niece and her family - brought a couple of wretched non-stop-barking dogs. They looked like maybe a cross between a beagle and a weenie dog. About beagle-size, but with shorter legs and pointy noses. Unfriendly little diabolical things, that would start yapping whenever a stranger got within barking distance. And there were plenty of strangers at the reunion.

I generally like dogs, and tried to acquaint myself with these little mutts. But they'd growl even when I was making friendly overtures. They were on those spring-loaded retractable leash things, and seemed obnoxious but harmless.

Until Sunday morning.

I was talking to the people in the camp (we were camping) and whoever was handling the dogs wasn't paying attention. Suddenly they were on me. By then I was used to their barking, and so I didn't pay much attention as they approached; I figured they'd stand a couple feet away and bark. But no! Before I knew what was happening, I could feel one of 'em kinda scratching my shoe and sock with his teeth; it was obvious he meant no harm. But the other one kinda vaulted up my shin and clamped down on my leg, just above the knee.

The thought occurred to me to grab him around the neck and squeeze 'til his beady little eyeballs popped out.

The niece shouted, "What happened?!!?"

"Your dog bit me - that's what happened!"

24 hours have gone by and the wound doesn't seem to be festering; I think I'm going to be all right. And as far as I know, the dog is still all right. (He was quickly spirited away; that was the last I saw of him... although I'm sure he lived to yap another day.)

In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't toss him against a tree trunk, or twist his head around a couple times, or smash his pathetic little skull under my heel.

Can you imagine?

"Golly - remember the big family reunion in 2009? That was the year Uncle Steve killed our precious little Petey!"


Clancy said...

I don't see many dogs so no worries there. On the Weiser River Trail, we were more concerned about rattle snakes while riding. I almost rode over one so I quickly put the pedals level and hoped for the best. Nothing happened.

We were also camping this weekend- Council Rodeo and huckleberries. My dog bumped my while I was drinking coffee. I got some spilt on me but she was much worse. I am guessing she will be cautious of the green cup for now on.

db said...

Ugh, yappy dogs. My wife knows not to expect me to be nice or rational around those things. It reflects well on you that you did not snatch up that little bugger and toss him.

bob t said...

Once I came across a wrong-way cyclist who had a dog following him and barking. It was just after sunset so I had my lights on. I was preparing to take evasive action but when the dog saw me it stopped chasing the other cyclist and retreated to it's property. I figure that it must not have liked the bright light approaching.

Other than that the dogs that I encounter while cycling tend to be either behind fences or in the back of pickup trucks.

Nannie Leick said...

It was so nice of you to mail back the cash to the dog owner. But most of all, you are fortunate that you were bitten by that dog. I just wish that this incident will not happen again. Dog owners should have their dog tied up to the leash at all times. Dog bites are extremely dangerous because of rabies. If you happen to be bitten by a dog, it would be best to call an officer to gather information and write a report. It could be handy when the time comes that you need to clear the air.