I couldn't not run and if I was going to head out, I should use the opportunity to start my plans to get Denali into shape. After a run group member brought along her dog to the past two weekend runs, I was inspired to get Denali to the point. Tami told me that she had been running a mile or so with her dog, dropping him off and finishing her runs.
Her idea sparked something in my brain, and I decided that I would try to run a mile with Denali every day through the end of the year. It's not going to be a streak — he will be boarded over the holiday — but it would be a strong effort to make him a part of my exercise routine.
Mark was impressed with my initiative, and we agreed that I would run 1 mile with Denali while Mark bathed Miles. I would be home before it was time to read to Miles.
There was a short walk to the corner and we were off. Denali was more than energetic in that first tenth of a mile up the street. My breathing was ragged and my steps quick. I tried to slow us down as best I could. After all, this would be an e-a-s-y easy run for me, and he was getting back into shape.
We began to settle in to a more comfortable pace as we headed north on the boulevard lined with beautiful historic homes. The third of a mile stretch, surrounded by modest family homes, never ceases to stand out to me. We headed south again, headed home, when we reached the stone entrance of the neighborhood. There was a slight uphill and then we had a steady grade down toward home.
Denali was happy. I was proud. I thought about what a great start this run was to our project.
And then, a block from home, it was over. Seemingly out of nowhere, a neighbor's dog ran toward us and grabbed Denali at the throat. I'm not sure what happened next. There was a fight, yes. There were yelps and violent movements.
In the middle of the street, frozen, I screamed for help. At the top of my lungs for what seemed like 2 minutes. I tried to keep hold of the leash and pull Denali to me. To bring him to safety. The dog, though, was still there.
With a snap, it was over. Denali's prong/pinch collar had come undone by the stress of the event and he was free. He ran down the street, away from the attack. Away from me. As I went for him, the owner came out of the house. Silent. The dog disappeared into the darkness.
I screamed at her between calls for Denali. "This is the second time your dog has attacked him." I was on the cusp of crying. Still, silence.
I found Denali on the porch, panting and still. He was shaken — hell, we both were — but he was fine. He was safe. It was over.
Knowing what to do in that situation was difficult. Eerily enough, this weekend my running buddy and I were talking about how we wouldn't know what to do if our dogs were attacked on a run. You want your dog to be safe but you need to keep yourself safe, too. Intervening between two dogs can further anger the attacking dog or you can get caught between them.
Here are some tips:
Turn away. If possible, turn your back to the attacking dog and try to lead your dog in the other direction.
Look away. Do not make eye contact with the attacking dog. It will signal that you are not a threat.
Commands. Try issuing familiar commands to both dogs. Sit, stay, back away, leave it. It might offer a cue to the dog to be obedient or seek positive reinforcement for listening (read: treat).
Carry pepper spray. Don’t be afraid to use as much as needed and spray directly into the dog’s nose and eyes. Be mindful of the wind so you don’t spray yourself. If you have to use the spray on your dog as well, don’t hesitate to do so.
Carry a flashlight. A bright light can be directed into the eyes of an attacking dog to temporarily blind him.
Carry a whistle. The loud noise might help break up either dog’s focus during a fight, and will help call attention to other people in the area to come help.
Sources: Canidae, Shiba Shake and WikiHow