One of the most frightening things that can happen to a person in the course of a routine day is being attacked by a dog. It can happen in a park, on a suburban street, or even in the middle of downtown at lunchtime. Here are a few survival tactics and tips to help you get out of the situation bite-free, from a reluctant expert on the topic: A utilities meter reader.
I love dogs. I go blasting into their yards every day to read the meter, and the overwhelming majority pose no threat to me whatsoever. Mainly, I get a lot of exuberant tail-wagging (I keep a cache of treats in my pocket). I get to know their names, I tell them to "sit" for their cookie. I even throw the ball for those who bring one to me and make with the big-brown-eyes business.
The purpose of this article is not to instill a fear of dogs into the reader. They are lovable, wonderful creatures for whom I have a deep and abiding admiration. This is merely a collection of survival strategies to put in your pocket, should you run into one of the rogue few who intend to inflict bodily harm.
Fear vs. Anger
There he is, the snarling mongrel you've walked past every day on your way to pick up your morning cappuccino. You've wondered more than once just how long the lead tethering him to the garage door would hold out. Today, you get your answer. He's loose, dragging a length of frayed rope behind him…
…and he's coming right at you.
Your first reaction is going to be an emotional one. You will become angry, or you will get scared. Which way you go here is crucial. Both fear and anger induce a flood of adrenaline. The two things your body will do with that adrenaline, however, are as polar opposite as the emotions which produce it.
Anger empowers you. Your heart rate spikes and oxygen-rich blood is pumped into the muscles of your outer extremities, making them stronger, more nimble. Your eyesight becomes very keen, your mental processes become faster and clearer, and your reaction time improves dramatically.
Fear shuts you down. The body, believing that its very survival is at stake, sends all that enabling blood and oxygen to your vital organs, in an attempt to protect them. What the body deems to be non-essential muscles and organs are suddenly deprived of blood. This is why, when animals are frightened, they will sometimes lose control of their bowels or bladder.
Your will feel weak, your thinking will become murky and sluggish, and your reaction speed will slow down. You will be in no condition to go up against that frenzied mass of fur and teeth hurtling itself at you.
So, when you see faithful Fido coming at you with malicious intent, get pissed off. How dare this flea bag attack you, anyway? You are homo sapiens, top of the food chain, master of your domain. The street you are walking down is maintained with your hard-earned tax dollars. You are acting well within the bounds of normal, acceptable behavior. He is not - so screw him!