Monday, March 10, 2008

Biting Back

I knew instantly that he'd broke the skin. It all happened so fast, so close to home...and after a weekend of dog-cuddlin' and animal lovin'.
This morning, eager to get my week off to good start and start piling on the mileage in anticipation of the Ottawa half-marathon I'll be running in May, I headed out for a neighbourhood jaunt.
I'd barely ran ten feet when I was jumped, snapped, and yes, bitten by a little white lap dog. I was wearing thick lycra running pants and tough running tights, but I felt the sharp points make contact.
I jumped back and took an earphone out.
"Your dog just bit me!" I said, surprised, to the sunglasses woman dressed head-to-toe in fur.
She seemed almost as surprised as I was, even dropping the leash of the other dog she was walking.
I put my foot down on the leash and took in the situation.
I've been road running for nearly twenty years, and a dog lover even longer. My two passions were colliding in the worst way. I always prided myself on being able to stride past the gnarls and growls of the feistiest animals. I believed that if they smelled your fear they'd take a bite out of you--if they didn't, they'd become passive and let you on your way.
But this was a different situation. The woman explained that another dog, a big black one, had just 'attacked' her little white one (looked like a West Highland Whitie this morning). The little guy was spooked and on the offensive.
I told her she was lucky--I'm a dog person.
As I continued on my run I thought about how I should deal with it. On the surface, my leg hurt. I shouldn't have to worry about my personal safety when walking out my front door.
Then I thought about litigation. A friend of mine used to work in mediation, and she explained that a lot of cases are now being settled with mediators rather than lawyers. Not only does this save on court costs, my friend told me, but much of the time it isn't money that plaintiffs want, but empathy. They want to know that someone understands their point of view, the fact that something unjust occurred.
It was then that I decided to visit the owner; she'd pointed out her house, we were practically neighbours.
Later in the run I remembered my accident in the summer of 2003, when I cracked my pelvis at work, in a strange collision that involved me, a golf cart, and a tree. My boss picked me up at the hospital afterward, bought me ice cream and french fries...and had the golf cart disposed of the following day.
By the end of the summer the tree was also gone.
By the end of the year, I'd wished I'd taken the company to court. I'm sure Intrawest can afford to offset my student loan. It could be seen as a send-a-kid-to-camp program...only for ski bums who've hurt themselves in the line of duty.
But of course, this is Canada, and one of the things we pride ourselves on is the fact that we're not Americans, that we don't sue.
But sometimes I wish I could talk to my boss now, hear his side of the story. (If you want to hear more of mine, please ask. It's a pretty funny story).
As I made my way home I knew my leg was fine but I resolved to seek out the dog owner and get the full run-down.
Just now, I noticed her in front of my house, walking in the late afternoon sun Daylight Savings time has provided us.
I stepped out in my slippers, called her over, and identified myself as the runner from this morning. We chatted about the incident and I asked about shots. I even caught a few glances from the slow-moving rush hour cars on my street, smiling at the exchange between neighbours. Winter holes us up--spring is almost here.
Her name is Evelyn, and her dog is Spencer. Up close he looks more like a laso apso.

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