Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Or would that be dogma bites?

After my improbable string of good luck, I began to get uneasy. Surely this was too good to last. A successful BQ effort, two 10K PRs in two weeks, getting picked for the Mackinac Bridge Run and the New York City Marathon, winning the Mega Millions lottery...

Okay, that last one was totally made up. (If only.) However, the rest was true. I knew it was too good to last. Something had to happen to bring my big head back down to earth. Like the proverbial balloon, my ego was popped via a set of very sharp dog teeth. Yes, of the infinite number of available vector paths in the space-time continuum, two of them intersected at a very unfortunate juncture.

It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon when my running partner, FK, and I set out on the Lake Losee trail in the Pinckney Rec Area. What lay ahead was a three-mile loop of bicycle-free trail. Shortly after we started, the trail went up a steep, pebbly hill. Coming down the hill toward us was a man who was being dragged along by two dogs. The man was scrambling to stay on his feet as they came flying down the trail. Upon seeing us, the dogs lunged forward even harder. The trail was narrow, and the man tried to reel in his dogs and move to the side to allow us to pass. The dogs were lunging at FK as he went in front of me. The man said, "Oh, they're friendly." As I passed, the dogs were both standing on their hind legs straining and pulling toward me. I went by and the bigger of the two dogs leaped out as hard as it could and I felt a nasty sharp pain lance across my left arm. It happened so fast I was already ten feet beyond them before it really registered. I thought, "well, maybe that dog just scratched me with its claws." But having owned a dog, and having felt her claws on me as a matter of course over the years, I knew I hadn't been clawed. It just didn't feel right. I looked at my arm and there were teeth marks surrounded by a wet smear of saliva. I looked again. I stopped and said, "Jesus fucking Christ, that dog bit me! MOTHERFUCKER!" I was furious and upset. I looked helplessly back down the trail. As much as I wanted to sprint back down the trail and confront the guy, what good would that do? He wasn't even within sight any more. I spat out another furious "GOD DAMN MOTHERFUCKER!" glared at my arm, and then gestured at the trail: "Well, let's get on with it." I grumbled and muttered the rest of the way and by the time we finished and returned to the parking lot, the teeth indentations had turned an angry red and the faint shadow of a bruise was beginning to appear. Now, several days on, the scratches left by teeth have faded to faint red lines but the bruise remains, a ring of purple with a clot of yellow in the middle. And it still hurts.

What do y'all think? Should I have stopped the moment I felt the dog's teeth make contact with my skin and raised a huge fuss? Fortunately, my skin was not broken, but...a strange dog bit me. On the arm, for crying out loud. Four feet off the ground. What if there had been a small child on the trail instead? Its cheek might have looked awful tempting. What's more, the guy never made any attempt to verbally control his dogs. No "sit," "stay," "down," or even a simple "no!" Nothing. Just the lame (and completely inaccurate, IMO) "Oh, they're friendly." Yeah. What the fuck ever, asshole. In my experience it's the dogs who are announced as being "friendly" that are the ones you need to watch out for, like the black bear in dog's clothing which attacked our then-three-month-old puppy on the sidewalk. As this tank of a dog came lumbering toward me and Hannah, its owner called out, "Oh, don't worry, he's friendly," just before the beast, hunched and bristling, plowed into both of us, knocking Hannah over onto the concrete. I was completely horrified and had no idea what to do. Hannah was squealing and I was on the verge of screaming myself and then the wretched "friendly" dog's owner arrived and grabbed it by the flab at the back of its neck and hauled it back into its house. Another "friendly" dog that was anything but. Every single time I go by that house and that jerkoff dog barks at me and runs up and down the fence in its yard, I narrow my eyes and think, "Friendly my ASS!"

So anyway...despite my tendency to shrink from any hint of confrontation, I think I blew it by not making a scene (okay, maybe just a small scene) immediately after the unfortunate intersection of Vector A (dog teeth) and Vector B (my bicep). I'd like to say, "Next time I won't be such a WIMP!" except I really hope there is not a next time.

In other news, this evening was the first gathering of this summer's session of Running Fit 501, the group training program I did last year. We met at the RF warehouse for a two-mile time trial, which I did in 14:21 (6:58 and 7:22). Our little Chelsea/Dexter group has grown considerably and tomorrow we have our first group run in Dexter, an easy run, since we had what amounted to a mini-speed workout tonight. After this, our Thursday group runs will be speed work(maybe some hill intervals, too? I'm not sure) at the track in Dexter. This is good, because I want to work on my speed. I'm determined to break 22:00 in a 5K before the end of the year. Bring on the 800 meter repeats!

And now, some random pictures:

If only it were this easy!

Randy Step, the owner of Running Fit, decides to forgo a plate and just eat pizza right out of the box. This was during the Swamp Party (literally, a kegger in the middle of a swamp) after the Tooth, Fang & Claw 10K "fun run" last week. I ran it in something like 52:00, got a free pint glass (leftover swag from some long-ago race), was harrassed by mosquitoes, drank cheap beer, and had a great time.

Speaking of bad beer...this can of Busch Light sits in the middle of chalk marks in the parking lot of a defunct Service Merchandise in Westland, which was the starting point for my first-ever outing with the Motown-Ann Arbor Hash House Harriers last Sunday. Yes, I am no longer a hash virgin. There was mud, mosquitoes, poison ivy (I didn't get any on me because I wore pants) and lots of really, really cheap beer. I drank...Labatt Blue Light...out of a can...forgive me, O beer snobs!

Finishing up the two-mile time trial. I'll see all my RF501 peeps at Thursday's group run!


Kirsten said...

I wish I could find a hasher group less than an hour away. And someone to drive me home from outings. That sounds right up my alley.

That dog encounter...ack! I grew up with dogs, but the older I get, the less trusting I am of them. I have 4 cats and no interest in ever having a dog. I've never had a cat aggressively bite me, but I can't say the same for dogs. My cats all have that overly friendly dog-like personality without the negatives that sometimes come with dogs (like the smell, slobber, eating of poo, etc.).

Keep an eye on that bite. I hope you aren't at risk for infection.

meganursula said...

I might get your arm checked by someone - and if it broke skin, antibiotic!

I think you should have stopped the guy immediately. He needs to know that the dogs are out of control, and you would be within your rights to ask for his contact info to get some recompense for what could have been a really bad injury.

I don't think he should have those dogs out on his own - he needs to have them in training, and to learn how to have them out responsibly. I wish there was some way that people like that could be forced to take appropriate owner actions.

All that said, i have a dog. My dog is a big slobbery beast. When people approach them i try to warn them - 'he is friendly, but he is enthusiastic, and he licks a lot'. I really don't believe my dog would ever hut anyone, particularly a toddler (he is soooo good with Madeleine), but i do know that he can be overwhelming because he runs right up to folks and licks them silly.

Since we trained him he doesn't lunge at people any more while we're running - but he occasionally 'lunges' towards other dogs in an attempt to initiate play. Luckily, most of those people can get it.

My point? Please don't hold it against all owners because of that dog - most of us work really really hard to have good responsible dogs, who are well taken care of and trained. And most of us, when we say 'he's friendly', are trying to be honest.

But still, i'd always steer clear of a dog that looks like it is 'pulling' the owner - most basic training skills involve being able to walk on a leash.

Hope you feel better...

Maggs said...

Man that sucks about the dog. And the dog's owner thinking their dog is friendly enough to be off leash. I have one dog I can't trust off leash, or around kids. And I am responsible enough to make sure he's never around kids. 99% of the time he's fine, but he's nipped at kids 2 times in the past 5 years. Once was enough to keep him away from kids. Unfortunately one time I asked if kids were going to be at a party and I was told no, but apparently to the person throwing a party, an 8 year old is not a kid.

I can't believe you drank a lite beer out of a can. Maybe the dog bite did something to your senses?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your unfortunate bite. I know how you feel, I met a 'nice' dog last year while out for a run- scars for proof - I was able to confront the owner and report incident to animal control.

Kinda hard for you to confront the guy out on the trail and put yourself in harms way with him and that "friendly dog".

Its sad, but most runners have at least one incident with a dog / irresponsible owner?

I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain with the bite. Since the dogs broke skin when I got bit I had to get a tetanus shot and I was put on antibiotics for a week. Plus, in NC all bites must be reported. Luckily the dog that bit me was up to date on all his shots.

I am not a fan of irresponsible owners.

Sun Runner said...

@megan: I was lucky, no blood was shed. Even so, when I got home, I washed it with some special surgical soap I have which is extremely astringent. It's been five days and I haven't started foaming at the mouth, so I think it's cool.

And by far the majority of dogs I encounter on runs/walks are genuinely friendly and well-behaved. It's that one out of a hundred that's going to be a problem.

Emma said...

My pooch has a strong prey drive and protection instinct... which means she likes to go after things that are moving and/or get to close to us. She also doesn't like other animals. It's a good thing she's under 30 pounds. It makes her quirks much easier to handle.

The point is... I know my dog. I know how she reacts to runners, bicycles, walkers, other dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, etc. And, importantly, I know how to handle her. We go for at least two walks/day and she is ALWAYS on a leash and I have control of her. When we see someone approaching, I put her in a sit/stay until the person passes and all is well (although there is some occasional grumbling or barking).

However, when people approach us from behind, we don't always hear them (and no, I don't wear headphones/earbuds when I'm walking the dog...sometimes you runners are just very stealth) and then, suddenly, a runner or cyclist goes whipping by us, startling both of us, so the pooch is less mannerly... and I get a little pissy myself (especially if it's a bicycle, since they shouldn't be on the sidewalks in the first place).

The point of all of this prattling on? Just to ask that runners/cyclists announce when they are approaching from the rear, especially if they are approaching someone with a dog. A simple "passing on your left" or "coming up behind you" or even "look out" would be greatly appreciated. As a cyclist who encounters walkers and runners in the bike lane quite frequently, I have found this practice invaluable in avoiding mishaps.

I think you should have said something to the dog owner. He needs to know that he has to keep his dogs far enough away from passers-by that they cannot make contact and that at least one of his dogs has a biting proclivity.

And while I'm on my little soapbox here, I might as well take the opportunity to tell dog owners that, in addition to always being in control of their dogs, they also need to SCOOP THE POOP. Dog owners who aren't in control of their companions and who don't clean up after them give the rest of us a bad name.

Okay. I think I'm done now. Whew.

I hope your bruise heels soon and you don't encounter that irresponsible owner and his dogs ever again.

tfh said...

That is maddening. I get annoyed enough when people make no seeming effort to control their dogs (ESPECIALLY when they use retractable leashes-- those are downright irresponsible with a poorly trained animal) and I haven't even been bitten. I think you probably should have (and would have, if you hadn't been so thrown off and upset at the moment) let the owner know his dog bit you. I love dogs, have also witnessed my dog attacked by another dog, and think any good dog owner should want to know if they have a pet that needs to be kept away from people-- after all, if it does end up seriously hurting someone, it may have to be euthanized, and who wants that?

Oh. And good topic. Must remember this one if I need lots of blog comments. Sorry you had to get bitten, though.

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

I would have totally run back down the trail and given that IDIOT what for. He is a MORON having dogs out of control like that, and and even bigger moron for not even knowing that his STUPID dog is not friendly.

I've had too many "friendly" dogs chase me to believe anything their stupid owners think. Your dogs are animals. They may be able to sit up and beg. Maybe they know where you keep your slippers, but they are animals.

I use a Dog Dazzer to keep them at bay, only because I can't carry a Tazer. If I could use a Tazer, I would. Dogs off leashes and charging at me, deserve the shock of their lives.

And that guy's dog? Needed a 2x4 across the head. So did his owner.

mr loser said...

Ugh, that sucks. I'd have done what you did -- what benefit would result from confronting a guy who wouldn't have cared anyway?

Biking many moons ago, a barking dog charged toward me from a yard on the opposite side of the highway. For defense, I grabbed the only weapon handy: the bike's plastic water bottle. Like you, I've been on the business end of many "friendly" dog encounters and didn't want another crash, especially on the side of a busy road. The snarling beast zoomed onto the pavement; I aimed the water-bottle missile and WHAM! a car traveling the other direction ran over dog.

Jumping off the bike, I found the creature badly damaged, but still alive. It took a couple door knocks, but, eventually, I found its owner's home.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

You should have gone back and bitten the owner on his @$$.

@$$uming he's not into that kind of thing.

Nitmos said...

Wow, this has inspried some long winded comments.

My only comment? Bite back.

Sun Runner said...

@emma: yeah, people who leave dog poo by the side of trail, that's not cool. Just because it's in the woods doesn't mean you shouldn't pick it up!

@tfh: yes, those long retractable leashes can be hazardous if ten feet of leash is strung across a trail or sidewalk. It takes a while to bring a dog on the end of one of those back in.

@mr loser: OMG. I laughed and then immediately felt guilty. But, OMG.

And yes, this has certainly been a comment-heavy post. I guess that's what I get for posting about a quasi-hot-button issue. Should I talk about religion and politics next?

Carolina John said...

dog bites are scary. that's why you should carry a pistol. sorry, i hate dogs.

i wish we had a hash group here.

Viper said...

"No shot. Dog bite. Woof-woof, not bang-bang."

Hope you're better. Remember to swing wide around those friendly dogs. I love dogs, but they can't always be trusted. Cheers.

Xenia said...

Hope your arm is feeling better. Whether you confronted that guy or not, the end result would have probably been the same. Take care of yourself.

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

I never trust dogs when I'm out for a run, no matter what the owner says. I've actually started carrying pepper spray because of loose dogs. I hope I never need to use it, but I don't want to find out I need it the hard way.

girlrunningaround said...

What an a-hole! You should have made a scene! Not only to let this guy know that he was way out of line for having uncontrollable dogs out in public, but also because MI is a strict liability dog bite state. That means if you are bit by a dog in a public place or place where you were lawfully allowed to be the owner has to pay for the injury, no matter what! Plus it would have been nice to know that the dogs were up to date on shots and whatnot.

Hope your arm is feeling better!

X-Country2 said...

Just found your blog, and wow, what a story in the last couple years! Congrats on all your success. :o)

Sorry to hear about the dog. Hopefully that owner at least felt TERRIBLE about it.

raulgonemobile said...

As soon as I hear "oh, he's friendly", that's an instant red flag. 99.9999999% of the time, it's usually the complete opposite in my experience.

As far as the Blue Light from a can, well.. you've gotta do what you've gotta do. I'm still a HHH virgin, myself.

joyRuN said...

GAH! What IS it with these dog bites on runners?!?

A couple of bloggers have yelled at an attacking dog to get them back - I can barely whisper on the run much less yell. Have to get some freaking pepper spray.