Birds chirping, dewy leaves, crisp air, faint rays of the sun breaking through..oh, it was just right to take a walk with my best friend! With a spring in our step, we walked out expecting fun things to sniff and see over the next hour. After exchanging a few out expecting fun things to sniff and see over the next hour. After exchanging a few pleasantries with other early AM walkers, we strutted onto a quieter lane so the leash could be loosened further and we could take in the beauty around us. Lost in the musical depths of my smartphone, I failed to notice the mama dog with her pups and the male dog eating at the other end of the street…when POOF! Wait…was that POOF or WOOF?! WOOF! OK, that was a distinct WOOF! We were taken aback when a low bark rose into a crescendo and a litany of barks followed - we were surrounded by a pack of strays and it didn’t seem like we were quite welcome in their neck of the woods. This was the moment I wished I had a handy Chihuahua or a Pomeranian to pick up and flee, but no…I had a bulky pit-bull terrier with me, equally shocked with what he saw and heard!
What happened next was a blur. I remember yelling virtuous words at the dogs, (unsuccessfully) trying to shoo them away, tugging my guy to run with me, imploring my pit-bull to show the trite expectations of his “aggressive” genes , but to no avail. The strays had their tails and bristles up, teeth showing, eyes boring into ours, whilst our tails and chips were certainly down, until a few good passers-by who heard the commotion rushed to our side and helped drive the pack back while we quickly retreated.
What should have happened was this: I should have left the phone in my pocket and focused on my walk. I should have carried a respectable looking stick or a can of water spray while holding my dog on a loose leash (but ensuring my pup stayed NO more than 2 feet away from me). My first warning sign should have been the mama dog with her pups; She would never want strangers around her little ones, especially a strange male and secondly, knowing that the other street dog having its meal most certainly missed the lesson on sharing being all about caring. I had no choice to turn around as I had already made a long way into the street before I noticed them, I should have never made eye contact with them. I should not have quickened my pace trying to get away from them, I should not have tightened my pup’s leash to cause him further anxiety. I should instead have walked calmly without making eye contact with the strays while having my pup walk closer to me. I should have licked my lips (to signal that I mean no harm), yawned perhaps and I should have slowly brandished my stick if/when these dogs started approaching me, without any sound from me. I should have slowly yet calmly walked away while being prepared to use the stick or the spray if I feared for mine or my pup’s life.
It has been many months since this incident. I can say that I no longer suffer from any mental ineptitude to focus on my walk and my dog whilst undisturbed by any electronic gadgets and my eyes peeled for any stray movements. No, this is not stressful, but being calm and aware Is half the battle won when I indeed come across a wandering stray. I am not a fan of being a treat dispenser to the strays as I believe it only endangers another unknowing passerby or a dog walker by feeding the stray dog’s aggression as a positive reinforcement. However, if that floats your boat, be merry, but carefully. Walking dogs on Indian roads is now more fun for me as I am more aware of my surrounding, I control my energy better which in turn causes my pup to reflect the same confidence and energy in his walk.
Go forth and conquer…and remember you are not alone…you will always have company with the streeties!