Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An almost-close call today

Today I was working that cycle 11 route which I have probably mentioned before as the worst foot route I have ever done, and which is my regular 11 so I do it almost every month (in the area of Harry Wurzbach and Rittiman).  Right now it isn't quite so bad, because we haven't had much rain in a while and it's the right time of year for all the overgrowth to be dying off anyway.  Plus, the cool weather today made it not too bad at all.  Oh yeah, I should mention this is an almost all-alley route.

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:

Friendly Boxer at the Dog Park
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.


  1. Glad to hear it turned out ok for you. My mom's neighbor had a big Boxer who still thought of himself as a puppy, even up to being 9 years old when he got really sick. He'd always greet us by running around us in big circles and dashing back in to touch us. Our dogs have given the gas meter readers a scare a time or two, even made him jump up into the back of our pickup to get some space between them and him until I could corral them inside, now he whistles and claps to see if any of them are outside when he makes his rounds.

  2. Back when I used to be a gas/electric meter reader, there was one house that had a very large German Shepherd who scared the poop out of me the first time I encountered him. After that, I always played with him for a few minutes every time I went into that yard just because it was so unusual to find a friendly dog in someone's back yard.

    On the other hand, it was a different very large German Shepherd that tore up my left leg and hand one day. That was another dog that never barked.

  3. Always better safe than sorry, I like you would never reach over or through a fence to pet a dog although in my career I had to get into yards with dogs in too many instances. That was when I I was in the border patrol while chasing illegal immigrunts through peoples' yards and on their farms and such. Never bitten but had some close calls. Had a German Shepard leap at me once, luckily I had heard a clinking sound and had just enough time to wonder "what is that" and realized it was a dog's chain clinking on the concrete as it ran. I started to back peddle and got my 4 D cell Mag Light up high and brought it down as soon as I saw dog. The dog was literally airborne, snarling and apparently aimed right at my throat or face. I got it on the snout with my maglight just as it stopped short in mid-air because it had come to the full extent of the chain only inches from me. Sometimes, rarely but still sometimes, my luck is excellent.

    Stay safe.

    All the best,