Surfers will tell you the thing they fear the most is the nudge. When something comes out of nowhere and bumps their leg, or jostles their board. At least, that’s what surfers would tell you if I knew anything about surfing.
Today, I got the runner’s equivalent of the Shark Week love tap. About a mile from the end of my run, I felt something bump into the back of my right leg. That’s strange, I thought. What could I have run so close to, without noticing, that I would have bumped into it? And how could I have bumped into it with the back of my leg? I turned around, and at my heels was a brown pit bull.
Now, I know that it’s the irresponsible behavior of some owners that has given the pit bull the reputation it’s developed, and not the breed itself. But outside of a bear, or the return of that cougar we had in Chicago a few years back, a pit bull is the last animal I want to see while running. I don’t trust them. I don’t trust the people who own them, only because I don’t know their intentions for that particular dog. We can argue this forever if you want, but I’m pretty sure most breeds of dog wouldn’t be trainable to do the things pit bulls have done. I doubt any two golden retrievers in the world would have gnawed the foot off a Chicago jogger last month.
I spent the next few moments backpedaling and running sideways, while trying to fend off this dog, scared out of my mind but making sure I didn’t panic. My heart-rate monitor was going crazy, even though I LEFT IT AT HOME! I knew for sure I wasn’t gonna turn my back to him again. I honestly don’t know whether or not I touched him, but I reached out to shove him away a couple times. Once I finally caught my breath, I yelled once, and he stopped and retreated to wherever he came from.
One thing I know for sure: If he had wanted to bite me, he would have. He ran up on me from behind, and I had no clue he was back there. Whatever he used to bump me could just have easily been bared teeth. He could have attacked at any moment after that, but he didn’t. I will contend that just running up behind me and making contact was an act of aggression on his part, but I wouldn’t call him “aggressive” outside of that.
I was bitten on the leg by a German shepherd when I was a little kid. It isn’t fun. It hurts. I had to talk to the cops. I was sure all the other dogs in the neighborhood were giving me the side-eye for weeks afterwards. Until today, it hadn’t even occurred to me to carry any type of spray repellent when I run. I don’t want to, but now the idea is in my head. If something like this happens again, I may be too skittish out there not to.