Out here in rural Taiwan, one of the most entertaining things to do is to take bike rides. Which also brings one into contact with the huge variety of dogs in this country. These dogs seem to have a varied social life. Some are loners, and go about their sad mangy business, and avoid all contact with you, others roam in couples or packs. In the couples, I’ve noticed that one member will usually be aggressive and bark at you, while the other waits around for it’s partner to be done, before they get back to whatever it was they were doing. The packs on the other hand, are very much like a gang of teenaged kids, they run up pretending to be aggressive, but really they are just showing off for their comrades benefit, and probably just want to play. Most of the these dogs are probably stray, since the ones with owners are often tied up. The saddest of these being the big guard dogs who are tied up all the time, or put in cages. They just seem like they are going out of their minds.
The other day, a friend from Boston was visiting, and we took a bike ride on one of my usual country roads. There is giant dog, who is tied to a tree in one of the farms, he gets hysterical every time anyone passes. Normally I ignore him, but this time I couldn’t. The beast had somehow come untied and started to run after us. It was like a bad dream, every time you think he might have stopped, he’d just start again, looking very ferocious. Thankfully we were going downhill, and the dog’s chain kept getting in his way. But its been a week, and I haven’t dared take another bike ride.
Looking around the net, it seems we were doing everything wrong. According to the Humane Society:
* Never scream and run. * Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
* Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
* If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
* If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.
I don’t know about you, but when a great big hound comes leaping towards me, I run and scream. Kerim tells me that postmen use a water and ammonia solution to spray a charging dog to disorient it without harming it. Others use pepper spray, though there is controversy whether to use the stream kind or the fog kind. I found other articles on the net, like what the military teaches people, which begins with the reassuring line, “Dog bites hurt.” What I liked the best, however, was reading other biker dog stories from Tyler, Texas, which give you the addresses and descriptions of the dogs and their particular styles of dealing with bicyclists.