A few mornings back, The Dog and I had barely started our run when a neighbour’s dog – a mastiff bitch called Charlie – came up to say hello. We stopped – we’re polite social animals, the Dog and I, and sniffs were exchanged – I merely proffered my hand, of course – then we resumed our run. A second set of nails clicked on the asphalt behind us, overtook us, and Charlie joined our run.
I thought Charlie would stay with us for just a block. We’ve been joined by other neighbourhood dogs in the past but they’ve usually drifted away within minutes, presumably distracted by something more interesting than our run. After the second block, and as we commenced our big loop, Charlie was still with us; she seemed to know what we were about.
It was nice running with two dogs. I felt part of a pack.
Most dogs in our area are well socialised, or their owners at least aware of their dog’s manners. Most times, we stop and I wheeze as athletically as I can as bottoms are sniffed, tails are wagged, and we resume our run. Sometimes, the wagging tails become blurs and the dogs think it’s play time and to heck with the humans. Occasionally, fights break out but both human parties are amicable – hey, they’re just dogs being dogs.
There are the regulars that we pass on our run, among them: Short Leads Guy, a guy who keeps his two dogs – both very friendly – on short leads and is in a constant tussle with them as they drag him along; Eye-Rolling Woman, who rolls her eyes whenever her collie tries to play when it’s obviously just. Walkies. Time. And there’s Bad Boys Woman, who walks two schnauser-terrier crosses on leads and shrieks Bad boy! Behave! Bad boys! whenever they pick fights with other dogs.
We met all of the above on this run. The first two were wary but greetings were exchanged under supervision and in good humour – for all her musculature and leonine eyes, Charlie’s a friendly and well socialised dog. The final party has neither friendly nor well socialised schnauser-terrier crosses.
As we approached, the small dogs barked, Charlie rolled up for a hello, the small dogs went crazy, picked a fight with Charlie, and then the next thing I thought I saw was one of the small dogs with its head in Charlie’s mouth. And in that split second, I thought, Our next dog will be a mastiff.
I body-blocked Charlie away – she really had only taken hold of the small dog’s neck, not the head, but I can dream – shrugged gallically at the woman, and we resumed our run.
And what the hell does this have to do with this blog?
When characters arrive unannounced and unexpected in your story, see where they take you. You always learn something.