Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Riding With Cujo
Wednesday December 5 2007
A neighbor down the creek has a number of dogs, 3 of them big and white and fast.
Fortunately, they are friendly. But sometimes a little too friendly. Anytime you pass by or near their house, they come out to bark a greeting. If you're driving, a couple of the big ones will race you down the dirt road a mile or two - picture a big white polar bear loping effortlessly beside you. I've gotten up to over 30 mph, and one dog was still happily bounding beside me. I'd goose the gas pedal to see how fast the dog would go, and the dog would goose his gas pedal to see how fast I would go.
When you walk by on foot or ride by on horses, they come out to follow you, sometimes for a ways. They don't really bother the horses, and you could say it's good training, getting horses used to dogs following behind and running around them. We tell the dogs sternly to go home, and they wag their tails, smile, and follow us. Most of the time you hear them coming. But sometimes they spring up over a hill, and sometimes they lay in wait for you to return.
That happened today: and one of us came off. As we went out on the ride, the polar bears barked from far away and ran across the sagebrush valley and up the hill to greet us. They followed us a ways along the trail before dropping back. They apparently waited there for us to return. (Had we known, we would have taken NoDog Trail back). We saw the one dog waiting innocently for us just on top of a hill behind a sagebrush. I don't know if the first horse saw him or not, but the dog bounded up from his perch - and when this one dog bounds, he's like a gazelle. The horse gave a big spook, the rider couldn't stay on. The other 2 big polar bears came up to see what all the commotion was all about; the other 2 horses panicked but kept their riders; the loose horse ran off a ways before he stopped. The rider was able to fetch the horse, and all the while, the 3 polar bears sat watching on top of the hill, like, "What's going on? What are you guys doing? Come on, let's continue down the trail!"
Nobody hurt, we remounted, and continued on the trail. Two of the polar bears followed behind my horse, who was last. Mac wasn't spooking from the dogs, but he didn't enjoy being tailed and kicked when they got too close. I think we'll be sticking to NoDog Trail from now on - just don't need the scare.
And this reminded me of a Cujo Encounter I had a few years ago in Ridgecrest. Five us were out riding in the mountain foothills. Out of nowhere, a pitbull came tearing at us, snarling, growling, barking, in attack mode. The horses remained remarkably calm despite, especially Holly, even though the dog was lunging at her back feet. Holly was being polite, she didn't want to kick the dog, and instead sort of danced with her back feet and tried to keep pivoting away from the fangs.
The five us were yelling at the dog, the dog was in a barking snarling delirium, going for the kill. Jackie said "Maybe I better get off," and we yelled "NO!" for fear the dog would attack her. The horses were now getting anxious, some spinning to face the dog, Holly still trying to dance politely out of the way; we were trying to stay in our saddles and yelling at the dog trying to call it off, when suddenly a truck drove up and a guy jumped out.
"PEBBLES!" He screamed. (Pebbles? How about Cujo??!!) The dog was now insane, frothing at the mouth, diving in at Holly's back legs, frenzied barking, mind gone; the man was screaming at his dog, we were screaming at the man to get his dog. The man leaped at his dog, the dog evaded him and lunged at a horse. The barking and lunging and screaming went on until the guy once again launched his body at his dog and grabbed her by the collar. He could barely hold onto her, Pebbles having lost her mind and still barking frenziedly and diving toward us. He wrestled the struggling rabid dog away and into his truck, and we kept yelling after the guy, "You'd better get rid of that F*$%ING DOG before she kills somebody!"
I wonder if he did, or if she has by now.