The Purpose of the "50-Mile Dolphin Dash"

Welcome to my blog leading up to the American Cetacean Society's 2nd Annual "50-Mile Dolphin Dash" fundraiser run on Wednesday, July 6th, Monterey, CA. I'm willing to shed 50 miles worth of blood, sweat, and (possibly) tears to raise funds to attend the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St. Helier, Jersey (UK), where ACS will be speaking out against commercial whaling and compromises to international whale protection measures. I'm also the Executive Director of ACS, so I put my heart and "sole" where my mouth is.

Support the Dolphin Dash with a tax-deductible contribution:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Be Smarter Than a Box of Hammers

Today, I was ambushed by two nimble redheads as I loped through an affluent subdivision on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Nobody ever expects to be attacked in wealthy towns, let alone in broad daylight, and yet here I was. They came out of nowhere – the first pressing his weight on my legs behind me while the other wheeled around directly in my path, bringing me to a grinding halt. By the time I could comprehend what was happening, I was knocked down and thoroughly pawed over.

"Don’t worry, they won’t bite, that’s just their way of saying “Hi”!

Why do dog owners always say that? As if forgetting that his auburn-tressed companions were Irish Setters (aka, one of the "blockhead breeds"), the gentleman calls to them, as if expecting them to actually listen and obey. They don’t, of course, and instead vacuously run off, showing absolutely no sign of even a nanosecond’s worth of gray matter stimulation. Three redheads on this street are two too many.  Slightly annoying, yes...but hardly stressful or menacing. In my own experiences in the realm of runner vs. dog, I have met the enemy. And it is me.

Your own worst enemy has come to town.
– Bruce Springsteen

The ultimate dog nemesis was a beagle named “Goober” who lived in a trailer along a long stretch of Nowhere Road in Athens, Georgia. No, I am not making this up. He was an old, gnarly-looking mutt who didn’t think very highly of cyclists or runners and was hell bent on proving it. He’d lie in wait at the end of his driveway, rise at your approach, yawn and stretch, and then charge, full-throttle, snapping at your heels and baying. He was a kinetic blur of teeth and an overworked voice box, undeterred by collisions with cars or bikes, or verbal and even physical abuse from runner.  In fact, he seemed to thrive on adversity.

My immediate thought was to rationally discuss the situation with Goober’s owner. I immediately reconsidered this strategy when I noticed the rebel flag exterior decor, charming lawn replica of a KKK Grand Wizard, and fully-stocked gun rack in the truck window.  Yes, it was possible that I wasn't likely to move the needle of the owner's "care-o'-meter", given my obviously Yankee attitude and accent.  And anyway, how would I get past the Napoleonic Cujo?

I like dogs, but was beginning to intently dislike this particular mutt. I needed an effective deterrent - one that was easy to deploy, didn’t hurt the dog, was lightweight, and “memorable”. I tried everything – spraying the dog with water from my bottle, shouting, speeding past it, walking past it, charging it, throwing dog biscuits... nothing worked. Then, an idea came... pepper spray!

Let me just say that my grand scheme did not involve hosing "The Goob" down with pepper spray.  My perfectly designed and flawlessly executed plan involved carrying a small unit of pepper in the pocket of my shorts, alerting Goober to my approach, unlocking the pepper canister well in advance, and spraying a line of capsicum 10 feet between me and Gooby which, when sniffed from a safe distance, would stop him dead in his tracks, leaving him foiled, baying, and forever associating me with bad burnin' juju. Basking in the glow of my victory, I would run past, maybe even walk, knowing that I was in fact, smarter than the dumbest, redneck hound dog.

This is a good time to mention that my track record of designing and executing flawless plans rival that of Wile E. Coyote. Here’s what actually happened: I put the locked pepper in the pocket of my shorts, approached and was greeted by Goober, ears back, lips curled exposing his tooth, hair on end. I took the pepper canister from my shorts, and unlocked it. With about 30 feet between us, he burst forth, intent on shredding my legs to ribbons. I sprayed the pepper in a long line – perfectly... over which Goober bolted as if it weren’t there. My mind didn’t register what I was seeing until he was almost upon me – I sprinted off, Goober barking and snapping at my heels for a good 1/8th of a mile. I was exhausted... and a beagle. I resolved to find another solution before the end of the run. I snapped the pepper canister and put it back into the pocket of my shorts.

It was in the 90’s that day – standard for a Georgia summer. I took my tank top off and doubled it as a towel to wipe the sweat from my face. Man, was it ever hot. Unbearable, in fact... my face was absolutely on fire! I looked down and to my absolute horror and misery, I noticed the pepper spray had leaked and was on my shirt, which I was now using to wipe my face. Death, sweet death... would’ve been welcome for about 20 minutes until the seering burn started to subside. 

In the end, I changed my route. I know when I’ve been defeated. It’s just that, well... I was outwitted by a beagle, a breed rivaling only Dalmatians and Irish setters on the “dumb as a box of hammers” scale of intellectual prowess.

I dread to think of the outcome had Goober been a border collie. 

Happy running,


1 comment:

  1. LOL!! I forgot all about "Goober" and Nowhere Road. Thanks for refreshing my memory. Good luck on the 50-miler... any woman who can tackle Cardiac Hill consistently in the GA heat will have no problem. Knock 'em dead at the IWC meeting.