Fight or Flee
One cool, still, dark morning I went out for a little jog. Being outdoors before the sun rises and most people wake up is calming and a great way to start the day. While coming down a poorly-lit, stretch and around a left curve I begin to warm up and feel my legs begin to stride.
Behind me I heard barks along with clawed feet on weathered asphalt. Yapping is urgent and closing, no need to turn and see what is coming up fast behind me. Around this area we had a feral dog problem, several packs and a few loners running free causing all the trouble and mayhem they desire. What’s going to stop them?
It’s decision time.
My choices at that moment was clear, keep running and be seen as prey to predator minds. Or turn and fight. No way I’m going to out run dogs. Not being one to be taken down by a leg bite on the run then mauled to death.
I took a breath, let it out and turned.
Knowing that the best way to handle these dogs was head on, present a strong front, discourage them.
Was I afraid? Well, yes. A human versus several sets of snarling teeth and claws, yeah I had some fear. That fear was swallowed down and turned it to a more useful emotion: anger. I may lose, but there is gonna be a fight first, and they’re gonna know I was there. Also there was survival, it may not be an emotion, but it is a desire of first regard.
In my mind’s eye the battle was already taking place. Poke eyes, shove an arm down a throat, kick, punch, brawling dirty fight with some dogs. Within that couple seconds of decision making time the battle was already fought, saw myself bloodied but victorious. Standing with taught arms and clenched fists watching whimpering pooches trot off while glancing back at me over shoulders, tails between their legs. A couple of the pack lying still at my feet.
What really happened was another story.
Stopping and turning I faced maybe six medium sized dogs running in my direction from the shadows of the curve. Hairs along the neck of the closest one to me were raised in a sure sign of hostility. He meant business for sure. So did I. Pack was still about fifty feet or so from me and closing not at full speed but a good clip. They had a nice horizontal line coming at me that would make any infantry patrol squad leader proud.
Not waiting on them to get to me I took quick steps toward them and barked my own, waving an arm while yelling “Get!” It’s safe to say they were just not expecting that. I even did the old trick of pretending to pick up a rock, have used it several times with dogs and has always made them pause. In hindsight what happened next was comical. All the dogs came to a slow trot and looked at each. As if saying, “Hey, he’s not supposed to do that.” Not losing any momentum I picked up the pace and got louder. They stopped, turned and trotted off looking back at me every few steps maybe to see if I had changed my mind and wanted to play their game again. I didn’t.
So while there was a chance of danger, injury and possibly even death; it seems all I faced that morning was a pack of dogs that were out for a chase, some barking and not much more. When push came to shove and they were confronted by determined foe, well they did what all their kind does: High-tail it back into the shadows, tails tucked between their legs.
Now we are all going to face such moments, either alone, with friends, a community and even as a Nation. We will have to make a decision, are we going to fight or be taken down? There is no compromising with predators.