I like dogs.
Honestly, I do. Big dogs, little dogs, all kinds.
I know some people say they like dogs, but it’s with that nervous kind of laugh that indicates they don’t really like dogs at all.
Your words say that you like dogs, but the nervous laugh says, “I don’t like dogs. Please get this dog away from me. Why is this dog still here? What god have I angered to be faced with such torment?”
I say that I like dogs as a way to preface what I say next. Which is that people shouldn’t have more dog than they can handle.
I get that big dog people love their big dogs.
I know some mastiffs and Great Danes and St. Bernards that are sweethearts who would never pose a threat to anyone.
But if you have one of those breeds that’s temperamental and you aren’t the size of The Rock or Vin Diesel, you shouldn’t be walking that thing around.
Because with a big enough size differential, you’re not walking it around. It’s walking you around.
I got to experience this recently, and on the wrong end of the leash.
I was out for a morning walk/jog because my work and recreational life largely involves sitting in a chair and staring at a screen.
I was on the sidewalk but stepped into the street because the walkway was blocked by a truck.
(Incidentally, you can have all the American with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks you want, but if they’re blocked by a giant pickup they’re not doing any wheelchair user any good.)
Coming across the street, looking at her phone, was a woman walking her dog.
And that dog was mad.
Not normal, “I’m going to bark at you to make sure you steer clear of me” mad, but “Every other living organism in the universe is my mortal enemy and I will not rest until I have torn them apart at the molecular level” mad.
People have asked me, “What kind of dog was it?”
And the answer is I don’t know.
It was primal fury given form, a bottomless rage held by the thinnest of tethers.
I looked upon its visage and saw not someone’s beloved pet, but The End of All Things — with teeth.
And it came for me.
The woman, startled, looked up from her phone and realized that she was in a battle with an uncertain outcome. She leaned back with her whole body weight, sharply commanding the dog to, well, not eat me.
I didn’t hear what she said. I just heard, “I WILL BRING FORTH THE RUIN. I AM THE DESTROYER. BEHOLD, I COME” in dog.
The only thing separating its jaws from my jugular was a thin strip of nylon that sang with her Herculean effort to hold this four-legged nightmare back from its ultimate prey.
That canine arithmetic I talked about earlier with dog size and person size as relevant variables?
This woman was at her maximum limit. If this dog had been doing Crossfit for a week it would have overpowered her — and it probably would have been insufferable about its sick workouts.
As it was, I skirted gingerly around its snapping jaws, turned up my music and sped up my walk.
If it was going to catch me from behind I didn’t want the tremendous clatter of its claws on pavement to be the last thing I heard.
I prefer Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” thank you very much.
I understand that dogs need exercise. So do I. That’s why I was out.
So if you have a dog that doesn’t like people, a dog that would be more at home in the pages of a Stephen King novel, maybe take that one out somewhere more fitting for his morning walk — like a small town in Maine with a supernatural murder clown.