Worked my ass off all day Saturday to catch up on chores around the house and to make sure my slate would be clear for an afternoon trail ride. The sky looked better by the hour, and by about 3 p.m., I was good to go. Put on my brand-new, right-out-of-the-bag tights with a pair of Lycra shorts over them, a couple of layers of socks, two layers of jerseys and a cycling jacket, and eagerly zipped out of the driveway to ride up to what we in Anchorage call “the Hillside,” aka the lower flanks of the Chugach Range.
I decided to take a shortcut through the woods in Ruth Arcand Park, a route I usually skirt around because the trails in the park are wide and somewhat dull, and used mostly by people riding horses. Still, it’s the woods, which is more fun than riding along the streets, so I was enjoying the feel of rolling through the fallen leaves. As I granny-geared my way up a short, steep hill, I heard the barks and footfalls of two approaching dogs. Before I could respond (as if I could do anything in the middle of a steep climb on loose dirt) some woman’s fucking dog was taking a chunk out of my right calf and shredding the shit out of my new tights.
As I yelled obscenities and dismounted my bike to use it as a shield, the woman said, in a very soft voice, “Please, just let me get her.” Yeah, lady. You’d better fuckin’ get her before I do!
After agreeing to pay for my tights, which I had to "suggest," she pleaded with me not to report the attack. Screw that. Her concern about me reporting it made me suspect the dog already had a rap sheet with The Man. She walked to her car in a nearby school parking lot and returned with paper and a pen to get my name and address to send the check. As I rode away, she said, “Please don’t report this.” I coldly replied, “Please mail the check,” and pedaled off with her name and number in my pocket.
A perfectly beautiful autumn afternoon ruined because some selfish, stubborn pet owner didn’t think the municipal leash law applied to her beasts. My first thought was to go ahead and continue my ride, but my mojo was ruined and I knew I’d be better off having my RN wife disinfect the wound quickly. Animal Control sent an officer to my house to take a statement and photograph my leg. Today, the officer went to the dog owner’s house to write citations for both dogs and check on their vaccination status. Fortunately, they were current.
Dog owners, I know you love your animals. I don't care. They’re dogs. If you think of them as your children, get yourself some fucking therapy. They don't have equal rights with humans. They’re not entitled to run through the woods doing whatever the hell they want. And yes, your dog is capable of biting someone. Maybe a little kid, or an old person; someone less capable of defending himself. Bottom line: Public trails exist for people. The people who pay for them. Keep your animal on a leash. That’s the law. I routinely carry a can of very strong pepper spray designed to stop a charging grizzly bear. Next time I’m threatened by an unleashed dog, I’ll empty the goddamn can on it.