By terryh on Jun 29, 2005
I've never liked dogs — that's just the way I feel. But I don't have any problem with people who keep their dogs responsibly. If someone keeps their dog leashed when it is off their property, and picks up the poop, then that's fine. I do get cross about dogs which cause a nuisance - ones that roam around the neighborhood pooping on people's front yards, or, to the point of this blog, hassling people going about their legitimate business. There are a number of roads I simply don't ride any more, because people have dogs that like to chase cyclists, and they don't keep them under control. It is not pleasant to have to either outrun a beast, or stop and face it down. I know some methods for dealing with dogs. For instance, saying "bad dog, go home" in a firm voice. I think that only works on dogs that are used to being controlled, but have got out accidentally. It certainly doesn't deter the repeat offenders. Then there is squirting with a water bottle, or a self-defense spray. I used to carry a pepper spray, but I seem to have misplaced it. In my experience water doesn't tend to do much. Finally, there's always stopping and putting the bike between me and the dog. Sometimes the dog only wants to chase, and won't do anything when it catches you — and you can fend it off with the bike if it has other ideas.
Unfortunately, about 18 months ago, I was chased by a dog while out riding, and the wretched thing caught me and bit me. It was more upsetting than actually dangerous - it barely broke the skin, and the bruise faded in a few days. The owners were right there (the dog was being transferred from car to house, and slipped its leash), and they assured me the dog had had all its vaccinations, so I didn't have to worry about rabies in this instance. Since then, I have been extremely cautious about dogs. If I see a large dog loose, I won't even go near it. I turn round and ride slowly away if it hasn't noticed me, or stop well away from it and wait for it to lose interest if it has. This seems to be a perfectly rational response to my experience, and nothing to worry about.
But this morning, I was riding along in our neighborhood, and a small yappy dog, possibly a corgi, jumped out from behind a hedge, and started chasing me. I freaked out, and started yelling at the top of my voice, and performing a Cipollini-like sprint to try to drop the little excresence. And I made a left at the end of the street without even looking. I could have been killed — but at the time it seemed like being hit by a truck was less of a concern than a 14" high dog catching up with me. Now I know the thing startled me, jumping out from under cover. But it seems like my reaction was way out of proportion to the actual threat. Phobic, in fact. Worrying.
Incidentally, according to my gps that corgi can run at 19 mph. Pretty impressive for something with 6" long legs.