One for the dog, one for the owner.
It is, to say the least, becoming a problem. Lousy, dumb examples of humanity wondering around on public lands with unleashed dogs. Countless times now we have had dogs round corners on us, most friendly or at the worst curious but of course we have never met these dogs and have no way of knowing this. Eventually some merry, slackjawed owner will amble around the corner with a surprised look and a howdy-do. They seem a bit shocked to find others on any given popular, well publicised trail where there are leash laws.
Today became serious in less than a second. We were biking on this well traveled BLM road where we are also camping. Biking is encouraged and accepted here. We were on the trip back and had stopped after a climb to catch our breath and just enjoy the moment. We had stood there for a minute or so when from about 40 yrds up the road come 2 barking, charging dogs. Again no owner in sight. We hoist bikes in the air and start screaming at the dogs as they speed toward us. At this moment we do not even know if they have an owner, as her green truck parked near the road had blended in with the scrub. This goes on for several seconds. Finally we here some soft, female voice yelling for her dogs. This is (as usual) followed by, “there not mean,” said while she is wrestling them to the ground.
Now I sit here with an aching shin, I hit it with my bike during those adrenaline fueled seconds, wondering what to do. Steve was bit by a dog last fall. By a leashed dog at that, in a bizarre split-second of two runners passing on a side walk. We had another close call while jogging around a Southern Illinois state park lake last October. Two dogs came at us barking and the owner was ambivalent about calling them back, resulting in an ugly shouting match with two other old farts.
I’ve had enough. Most all public lands have leash laws or at the very least mandate that dogs are under close control. These are lands for people to enjoy and perhaps see wildlife, not every species of domesticated canine. Leash laws protect the dogs too. I’ve known of dogs back home suffering copperhead bites while running through the woods, I imagine a rattlesnake bite would make a mess of a dog in moments. And anyone who takes their dog off a leash in parks with a large bear population is really suffering from a shady day IQ.
I’m re-reading Desert Solitaire and wondering what would Ed Abbey do? He would shoot the owner or at least leash the foolish person and take the dog.
I don’t want a dog just now. And loaded firearms are discouraged on BLM lands, National Parks and such public places. Besides guns get heavy and my marksmanship isn’t anything to brag about.
As I see it one option is bear spray. Nearly worthless on bears but might work on a dog. Strapping on a large knife is also on the list of possibilities. I remember my granpa doing this when a particularly foolish neighbor had an even dumber Doberman Pincher. I do come from the hills of Kentucky where we are raised to have little tolerance for threatening situations or stuipid people.
The oddest part of all this is both Steve and I like dogs. I grew up with an menagerie of canine companions. Someday I may settle down on a few acres in Vermont or Canada and get myself a big old dog. On a few acres that I own where big old dogs should be. I don’t blame dogs for being dogs and doing what dogs do. It is just that I refuse to have one chewing on my leg.