08 May 2006

How Do We Know Who the Others Are?

47.06 min 6 miles: humid, warm day.

...I wish I could be like that with people I meet.

Dogs lie down by my feet all morning in the office, looking sad and bored. I had thought of giving my legs a rest for a week while I finish off the magazine draft, but I can't stand it any longer, and by lunchtime I decide to give it a go - and trot out on the road.

Strange thing: my knees have been hurting for a few days, I started getting worried, but as soon as I decide to ignore it and start running they stop hurting - as I run into my usual stride taking care to keep the heels off the ground as much as possible.
'it's not
the size of the dog
in the fight - it's the size of the fight
in the dog'

I do feel better, nothing hurts, a feeling of contentment and harmony descends on me.

Dogs bounce happily and pull me along for the first mile, looking proudly and aggressively as we pass one house with an old red collie too old even to bark at us, and the second one with a blood hound on the chain and half a dozen little yappy dogs who never even venture too close to the fence... My two feel like conquering heroes.

But just past the first mile there is a 'bad' house with four very loud and large dogs, an Ayrdale Terrier who is always chained outside, two Newfs in two separate fenced enclosures and an old white Labrador who is lose and often runs out to sniff at as, but is never aggressive.

Strelka is a True Brit, he just trots on with a slightly anxious look on his face, checking the house, looking at me, checking the house again. But Nala just stalls, slows down and stops completely just before we pass the place, and I have to drag her on until we're level with the 'bad' house - and then she dashes on, glancing back at the mad barking dogs. It's fine once we're past the barking place, and Nala, with her fast trot, is leading us three with her 'Dumbo' ears flapping up and down. It is a good uphill stretch of my usual 6 mile circuit and I am only too happy to let her pull me for a while...

We pass a different dog each mile during the run, and every time my dogs' reaction is different. I keep thinking about it: what is it that makes them feel superior and stronger with ones, and meek and anxious with others? Mostly it is the low, profundo bass that scares them. The high pitched yaps of smaller dogs don't bother them. But, then, there is a huge Alsatian (German Shepherd) always waiting for us in the garden at mile 4, who gets very angry and runs up and down the length of the fence, snarling and showing his large sharp teeth. I am never very sure about him, but my dogs seem to feel very confident, lunging at him, right up to the wire mesh of the fencing, trying to bite him, pulling at the lead, and looking back after we're past the place as though saying, 'just you come, just let's step outside'...

I once heard a Texan saying 'it's not the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog'. There must be something more than the size and the voice that lets them know who's the wimp and who's the tough one.

I wish I could be like that with people I meet...

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