I was out jogging yesterday when I came across a dog on the trail.
You see, I jog on the Santa Ana River Trail. It’s cheaper than the gym and much more scenic, especially when you get up into northern Orange County. It’s a nice way of getting out in the world when, as a writer, I find myself cooped up in front of a keyboard so often.
So, there I was, jogging away when this great big pit bull came up to me. Actually, it might not have even been a pit bull because I don’t know if they get this big. The dog came up to my waist! It was out on the trail with its human, but the idiot human didn’t have him on a leash. One of the rules of trail is that all pets should be on a leash, but nobody ever follows that. Okay – so that’s one of the downsides.
It’s especially one of the downsides when this dog that is off his leash is half your size and is running up to you with its mouth full of razor-sharp teeth bared!
A decade ago, I probably wouldn’t have handled this very well. I won’t kid you; I used to be terrified of dogs, especially large dogs. This goes back to my childhood, when I watched my sister get bit by a large dog.
But people change and I’m happy to say that in at least this one way I have changed for the better. Dogs don’t freak me out any more. This is probably because I own two dogs of my own. They’re not big dogs but I’ve learned how to handle myself, how dogs communicate and what they like and don’t like.
I also thought, as this dog was approaching me, that I have Vicky to thank for this as well. Vicky has had a very calming effect on my life. People in my family are pretty high-strung, he said tactfully, and I am no different. But Vicky handles things so well, dare I say “gracefully”, that I believe some of that has rubbed off onto me.
It’s nice to be married to someone who has such a beneficial influence. When I say I’m a better man because of her, this is just one of the ways.
And so, this big dog came up to me, its owner oblivious and walking as though nothing was wrong. (Of course, there was plenty wrong. I could think of ten different ways this dog unleashed could be a hazard but what are you going to do?) I slowed my jog and lowered my hand, palm-out.
He gave it a juicy sniff.
And… that was it.
I kept jogging and the dog kept… doing whatever dogs do.
And yet, the experience reminded me of a few things I have to be thankful for… and I thought I’d share them with you.