Several years ago I was working in a photo-processing lab that ran two shifts each day. One day I had worked late into the evening, closed the shop and was making my way to my car. The lab was located in a shopping complex and my car was parked in the east side of the strip mall parking lot. Having learned to be aware of my surroundings through the martial arts training I had learned over a two-decade period of time, I took notice of the people in the general area as I walked along.
Reaching the end of the sidewalk and turning the corner I noticed a man sitting on the hood of his car smoking a cigarette and patting a large dog. Up until that time I had never had a bad experience with a dog or dog owner, but that was all about to change. When I stepped off the sidewalk, the dog, which had already been watching me, dropped his head, pulled back his ears and positioned himself for the charge. For those who might think that I had done something to tease this animal, I promise I did nothing but look in his direction.
I walked and the dog waited. I walked in a straight line towards my car. I would have walked past the man and his dog but then the canine rocket exploded. This mass of dog muscle crossed the distance much faster than any track and field star ever could, but he would not catch me unprepared to respond to his charge and his teeth. My mind began to think in terms of simple imperatives: “Big dog coming—I need both knives now!!!” My hands came up holding the two knives I carried at that time, a Cold Steel medium-size folding Voyager Tanto, and a Ken Onion Vapor (if I had been carrying my 9×19 I may have just shot him).
The dog came in fast and low and I took a fighting stance. Just as he was about to make contact I lifted my leg to protect my groin and to push the animal away. To my surprise this dog made a small sideways movement to my inside in an attempt to “outflank” my defensives. If I wasn’t afraid before (and I had been) I really was now. Once again I pushed out with my leg and this time the dog bit down into my pants leg near the cuff. Then he stopped; he was holding on but not shaking or mauling my leg or foot. Not even a growl came from him now. The thought crossed my mind that this animal was not hurting me so using the knives on him was a guarantee to get the police involved.
I yelled at the man sitting on the car, “Get this dog off me or I’ll kill it!” The man then made a completely silly statement: “Don’t get excited, he’s a cattle dog.” I had no idea what a “cattle dog” was, all I knew was that this very large and very aggressive animal had my pants leg in his mouth and my leg was not far behind. I repeated my statement to the man and he once again told me “something…something…cattle dog.” The man came over and took the dog by the collar, put him in his car and drove away.
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