I've seen all the many backyard dogs on this route many times, and know ahead of time where the really bad dogs are. I got to one yard which holds two dogs: an older one of undetermined breed which simply walks around quietly and watches me, and the other an extremely active and outgoing young boxer.
I've encountered hundreds of dogs and have developed the talent of being able to read a dog's hostility potential almost immediately, but sometimes I have found boxers are hard to read. I have also noticed that many boxers do not bark until they are right on top of you. I make it an iron-clad rule never to reach through or over a fence to pet any dog, because no matter how friendly a dog seems, it's just not worth the risk. One wrong move and I could end up spending all day waiting to see a doctor at the company clinic, possibly being put on light duty until the injury heals, and maybe even having to suffer through rabies shots.
So I got to this one yard, and as usual, the boxer greeted me by jumping and running around, but he never barked. I said a few things to him, the usual things you might say to a friendly-seeming dog, but of course I did not reach over the fence to pet him.
I went on my way, and two or three houses farther along, I came to a new meter that had not yet been "reset" in the system, which means my handheld still had the information for the old meter in it. When this happens, I have to reset it myself, which means I have to get the new meter's serial number and enter it. So I had to kneel down and brush some dirt off to get a good look and make sure I was reading the serial number correctly. It was when I was down on my knees trying to read the meter number that I suddenly felt two soft things shove into my back.
So in the space of about 1/100 of a second, I thought: ohcrapsomeoneisbehindmewaitthosearen'thandshthey'repawsohf***thisiswherei'mgoingtodie!!!!!
And then I spun around to see this:
not the actual dog in question, but very similar
The friendly boxer from two houses back had jumped the fence and run up behind me, demanding attention. He never barked the whole time.
So for the next several seconds I was a confused confusion of feeling relief, still shaking from the adrenaline surge, and trying to fend off a dog who was trying to lick me to death.
He followed me around for about 20 minutes. There is a part of this route where there's a string of about 20 meters that are in front yards, and in that stretch there's this one little rat-dog always running loose that tries to nip my ankles. Today, he just stayed in his own front yard because the boxer stood in the street staring at him. I guess the rat-dog wasn't going to take any chances on braving a dog that technically could have snapped him in two with one bite. So that was a plus. Eventually the boxer got bored with following me around and I guess he went back home.
I greatly prefer dogs that bark. That way I can tell where they are. But if a dog isn't going to bark, I would rather it be like this boxer.