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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pepper Spray and The Dog Whisperer

Earlier this week, a friend of mine brought me to a wooded lot he owns in a semi-rural area of Northern California.  Amongst other things, I was doing a test on caching location directions accuracy.  I got some interesting information and ideas I'll share in a later post.

Anyways, as we approached the lot, we heard LOTS of dogs barking.  He has neighbors on both sides of his lot, and not surprisingly, they all have dogs.  Big dogs.

The neighbor to the right has a fully enclosed lot with 7 or 8 foot high cyclone fence.  All of these lots are 1 to 2 acres, so that must have set him back a pretty penny.  The neighbor to the left only had a fence running along the front of his property - nothing along the lot line separating the property from my friend's.

I look up, and there is a BIG Rottweiler (is there any other kind?!) charging us.  He's followed by a German Shepard and some kind of Junk-Yard-Dog.  None of these dogs appear to be a part of the neighborhood welcoming committee.  Their heads are low, and they are barking and growling as they fast approach.

On the way up, my buddy and I dropped my vehicle off and took his to the lot.  That meant I no longer had a firearm available to me.  Great.  I'm about to be mauled to death in some back-roads property, no one knows we're there and I have no way to defend myself.

It then dawned on me that I ALWAYS carry my Buck knife and my pepper spray with me.  It doesn't matter if I'm in shorts and flip-flops or in a business suit, they're in my pocket.

Out comes the pepper spray.

What was very cool was my training kicked right in.  In our Defensive Sprays class, we teach our students to make sure they have the ability to move laterally.  If someone or something (like an agitated dog) is charging you, you want to move to one side or the other after you fire.  You need to expect the inertia of the person to carry them into you even if you get a direct shot in the eyes - it takes a couple of seconds for the spray to take effect.

So, Cujo and his friends are charging us.  I'm ready to rock and roll.  Clear space to the left and right of me.  I know my spray will go out to 15 feet, but is more effective inside 10 feet.  I'm calculating when I'm going to hose down these dogs and the rough order in which it will happen.

Suddenly, my buddy steps forward and goes all, "Dog Whisperer" on me!  He goes right towards the Rottweiler and starts with the "baby talk" to the dog.  The Rott just melts!  The Shepard and Junk Yard follow suit, and act like my buddy is the best thing since Kibbles-N-Bits.  Tails wagging, sloppy dog-kisses - the whole nine yards.

My friend tells me he, "has a way with dogs".  Apparently so.  I know he doesn't go to the lot very often, so it's unlikely they recognized him.

We spent a half hour or so on the lot.  The dogs kept a very close eye on us.  They were following us in a "stalking stance" - low to the ground, using cover, being very quiet.  I felt like we had steaks hanging from our necks.

I kept the pepper spray on a small lanyard around my wrist just in case the love was lost between my buddy and the dogs.  I was not too disappointed when we got back on the road!

Accept The Challenge

NEVER leave yourself without multiple options for self-defense.  Expect one or more options to fail or no longer be available.

I harp on this a lot, but you have got to mentally run through scenarios before they actually happen.  My primary defense (a firearm) was not available.  The pepper spray was now first up.  I should have put the knife in my other hand - assuming the pepper spray would either fail, or would not be sufficient for all of the dogs.

I should have been looking for tree branches to use as a club or spear.  My mental checklist has now been updated.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Anonymous said...

About two months ago or so, an elderly couple was mauled to death by a pack of feral dogs while they walked on a back road up here. It's well to be prepared, as you say.

Chief Instructor said...

I felt naked not having access to a firearm. These dogs weren't quite feral, but close to it. You could tell they spent a lot of time roaming where ever they wished.

Andrea said...

Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. (Insight into my mental dialogue whilst reading your post LOL) Glad things turned out okay.

Chief Instructor said...

LOL, that's pretty much what was going through my mind as well!