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Training

Runner’s Best Friend (or Foe?)

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Dogimage

It started out like any other run.
I’d taken this route many times—at 6 a.m. in the still-dark morning, nothing
beats stumbling out your front door for a neighborhood run. I was winding up
the run and feeling quite satisfied that I had squeezed in almost 3 miles while
the rest of my family was still sleeping when it happened. Out of nowhere a dog
came charging into the road and towards me. And not just any dog. This
jackal/wolf look-alike had wild eyes, no tags and a purpose (that in my mind
was solely to knock me down and gnaw at my throat).

I scanned quickly for an owner, but
no one was in sight. Meanwhile Kujo kept lunging toward my legs with teeth
flashing. I continued to run past several houses, albeit without good form,
while yelling a firm, “No, no!” in my best I-mean-business voice. But it was no
use, the dog continued to charge and growl. In a moment of panic, I searched my
memory for tips I had read, anything that could help me deal with this
situation. Then I remembered my best bet for attracting attention would be to
yell, “Fire.” Just before I completely humiliated myself, the hound relented. And I, ahem, tucked my tail and ran home.

This incident made me start
thinking about canines and runner safety. What should I have done in this
situation?

According to the University of
Kentucky Police Department, I handled this situation the wrong way. They
recommend standing still and remaining calm. Other tips include: not meeting
the dog’s gaze (which can be perceived as aggression), allowing the dog to
sniff you, saying, “go home” in a low voice, and if necessary “feeding” the pup
a piece of clothing. For the absolute worst-case scenario: If you are knocked
down, curl into a ball and cover your face.

As for me, I’ll keep on running this
route, but you can bet I’ll be a little more alert—and ready—next time.

Have you encountered an aggressive
canine on your run? If you have any suggestions for running safely, I’d love to
hear about them.