I wanted to resume running down Orchard Lane into Forestville, rather than having to go out in the car for a run. Shannon gave me a can of Mace from beside the bed. “Use it,” she said. “A friend of my mother’s got attacked last month by a Rottweiler when he was out running.”
I told her stepson Jonathan about it later and he laughed – typical of Shannon to have some Mace by the bed. For me it was a very American experience, given that it’s illegal in the UK. He told me he’d been chased by the dog a few times on the way to a friend’s house. “So one day I was on my bike and the mutt was chasing me,” said Jonathan. “I drop-kicked it in the head and it never bothered me again.” I was heartened by his information but still dreaded any confrontation with the Beast.
The first three times I ran down the lane the Beast was in its pound, and tore up and down in frustration, barking. I should mention that its pound is above head-height on the road, and that that’s often where it ambushes from. It is, to say the least, unnerving.
Yesterday I was running down the lane and noticed that the Beast wasn’t in his pound. My heart sank, but I was glad I had the Mace. I heard a loud bark up at his owner’s house and we made eye contact at fifty yards. He bounded down the hill towards the pound. Seconds later he was above head-height, barking ferociously. I ran on, not wanting the confrontation. I slipped the button of the Mace around to activate it. The dog leapt down onto the gravel and began running up behind me. I turned, stopped, and pressed the trigger on the Mace. A feeble spurt came out no more than six feet. The dog stopped a safe twenty feet away, barking.
I turned and began running again. I had failed to release the Mace fully into the ‘armed’ position. My heart was racing. I hated myself for any harm I might do to the dog. I turned again and it stopped, barking at me, well within range of the Mace. I realised that it might just be chickenshit after all, so I didn’t use the Mac. Instead, I turned back and began running down the hill again. The Beast took after me once more, barking. I knew what to do. I turned back and ran towards it, not even saying anything. It turned tail and ran back up the hill. The point proven to myself, I disarmed the Mace and continued on my run, ignoring the chickenshit Beast, which chased after me some twenty yards behind, relieved I’d not harmed it.