Many moons ago, I was taking my morning constitutional in the sylvan environs of the Parade Grounds when all of a sudden this massive black and tan mastiff, slavering at the jaws, came charging in my general direction. While it may sound more dramatic to state that I spent weeks in a bed of pain, the truth must be told. The beast bounded up menacingly, sniffed suspiciously at the earth around my nether regions and then moved on in search of fresher and possibly greener pastures. I couldn't tell, since I'd curled up in a tight little ball as recommended by the Survival Guide, with my eyes tightly closed (not one of the good book's recommendations).
At a distance of some fifteen yards from the animal, his owner, a well nourished, bespectacled, spotty creature of some fifty summers waddled contentedly by the eucalyptus grove, a red leash dangling from her ham-like hands. They say that over a period of time pet owners tend to resemble their pets; this owner was clearly the exception that proved the rule. Even her friends, assuming she has any, would have been forced to concede that Rover would edge her out in a beauty contest.
When I finally managed to stop gibbering with terror, I coldly asked her why the dog wasn't on a leash, as prescribed by the park authorities. All the good karma I'd built up so assiduously after my holistic healing last week vanished in the white heat of my justifiable ire. However, while adrenalin is perfect for the fight or flight instinct, it doesn't do very much for the vocal cords and I could only gesticulate weakly in semaphore fashion that Rover's attentions were unwelcome. In fact, keeping in mind expert canine advice that aggressive animals are roused to an even greater fury by the smell of fear, I did my best to think courageous thoughts.
Displaying even more belligerence than Rover, Madame asked me what my problem was. Nervousness, in the presence of strange, large animals, I informed her. I mean, we hadn't even been introduced and here was this woman's hound nuzzling me in what my old schoolmate Raymond used to refer to variously as 'the family jewels, men' or, when sufficiently inspired as ' bloody wedding tackle, Bob'. 'Nervous,' she scoffed, in a penetrating falsetto, 'a big grown man like you, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Come here, poochiekins, this man doesn't like ums.' Having picked and dusted myself off with as much dignity as I could muster under the circumstances, I was in no mood to argue with the woman. A certain amount of prudence was also called for since Rover was still unleashed and I contented myself with mental abuse. Complaining to the security guard didn't do much good since Fatty is apparently related to some 3 star fauji.
On my return home, I keyed 'aggressive pets' into my search engine and instantly came across this gem: If I find a pet running free it must be unwanted. Can I adopt it, hand it over to the authorities or take other suitable action? Worried Dog Lover.
The agony aunt in charge of the website replies: Although many pet owners VERY WRONGLY let their pets run free, some pets, because of their cunning, find a way to get free. You should call the local humane agency to report the found pet, put up posters and check the lost pet ads in the local papers. Look for a tattoo on the inner right thigh in case the pet is registered. Remember, there is probably a heart broken pet owner somewhere crying for the return of his beloved animal.
Well sir, call me prejudiced, but I consider that a weak-kneed, wimpish response. It appears to me that said aunty hasn't been through enough agony in her life to qualify for the job. She evidently hasn't had so much as a nip, let alone a bite in the fleshy parts necessitating several painful and expensive anti-rabies injections. Has it ever occurred to her that rat poison is much cheaper and considerably more effective than posters? The aggression displayed by the animal that nearly savaged me a clear indication that he wasn't getting enough meat at home. And how, pray, is one supposed to get a look at the animal's inner right thigh, unless one pretends to be a lamppost? I'd like to be left alone with the right thighs of both dog owner and agony aunt for just a few seconds. I'd give them both a pretty good tattoo, I can assure you.