Friday, July 09, 2010

You Runs, I Chases

This article at SF Appeal, San Francisco's online news'paper', prompted this comment from me:
No banning or outlawing or rule-making is going to stop dogs from being a potential danger that runners have to be prepared for. Unless we somehow manage to rid the world of dogs altogether. Or maybe we'd do better to rid the world of runners.... Neither of these ridiculous extremes solves anything. Any dog, no matter how well-bred and well-trained and well-cared-for, might respond in a dangerous and/or frightening way to a person running. The perfectly plausible scenarios are endless -- dog protecting a new baby; dog sees another dog playfully chasing and gets the wrong idea; dog's fence blows down and it finds itself unexpectedly at liberty in the wide world.... And none of those scenarios justify blaming anyone, dog or owner.

Animal lovers are a lot like English Majors. They measure their love by considering their version The Correct One, and those whose love (or grammar, or spelling) is expressed differently just don't love as well and are bad and not as good and neener-neener-I-am-holier-than-thou. I believe you can love animals and still have some compassion for humans. You can even love animals and consider a particular dog an asshole, pure and simple. I mean, really, they are individuals -- they can't all be noble help-meets; that'd be boring and kinda sick.

Runners have got to carry protection. One commenter mentioned several products -- pepper spray, some sonic thing, a stun gun...maybe you could use a phaser? -- to deter the random, typical dog from pursuing and/or injuring you. And runners should be able to use these non-harmful but very discouraging deterrents with impunity. Even if you find out afterwards that Fluffy was just wanting to tell you that your shoe is untied, it should be perfectly kosher, culturally, among us, to first mace any dog who rushes up to you, and ask questions later.

Although commenter Jayne's remark that every runner should bring a man along gave me a good laugh, I do agree that no runner should go out alone at any time of day or night without some kind of protection from unexpected encounters of all kinds. Golden Gate Park is a wonderful, magical, enchanting place, but it's not Disneyland. Nowhere is Disneyland.

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