Sunday, November 2, 2008
I had just reached the five mile mark of my runners high. With ear-buds blaring I was shouting the chorus of a choice Citizen Cope song (in my head), probably looking like people I usually laugh at—oblivious to their surroundings—and loving every breathless track. The gravel road turned back to chuck-holed cement, my indicator to pick-it up, I was less than 10 minutes from a refreshing cold shower. The milliseconds between shuffling songs provided just long enough pause to realize something didn’t feel right; I was being watched.
Because of the time of day I run the only onlookers are those awake to give the local monks food on their daily alms rounds. I’ve grown quite accustomed to the farang (Westerner) sighting stares and sheepish glances from the children; this unsettled feeling was different. Like starring down the imaginary monster in my closet while waiting for sleep, I could not rest without a feeling of resolve. Last resort; I paused the last song of my ‘Morning Run Mix,’ Rage Against the Machine’s Renegades of Funk.
A hauntingly close sound of commanding presence drowned out Rage’s political angst before I had a chance to turn it off. Tired as I was, the need for immediate action and response quickly became beyond apparent. The last sound I remember was the loud scream of a diseased killing machine. The next sequence of frames came to pass quickly; before I had a chance to pause I was left bleeding.
The self-proclaimed stallions of stray dogs are always easy to spot but it doesn’t make them any more predictable. They don’t skip and scamper like the other strays, they strut and saunter. Direct eye contact is an open invitation for nothing less than an up close and personal, jaw-snapping, bark or three. These dogs share traits with the alpha males at every local pub, constant reassurance of their dominance being a requirement of their daily self-fulfillment.
A few nights ago a friend and I were walking home from dinner when we heard a stray bark from a fair distance, thinking nothing of it we carried on. A hundred steps later the same dog, teeth showing, was chasing our heels; we heard nothing until the dog was within biting distance. I turned, flailing appendages at anything that moved and yelling obscenities at the top of my lungs.
“Why don’t you like dogs?” my friend asked moments later. “Oh I love dogs, I have a Golden Retriever at home,” I replied still out of breath. “I just don’t like rabies,” I added.
Quickly glancing over my left shoulder I got a memorable snapshot of fang and fur. Doing my very best in the tired state I was, pivoting on my left foot, I laid out my right leg into the strongest side volley I could muster. I spun, right leg still flying through the air, arms extended like a Bruce Lee wannabe, left leg holding the weight of the entire frantic movement. Loose bits of gravel on the transitioning surface below my feet sent my left leg whipping into the air to meet the right, neither making contact with anything but the oppressing humid morning air. The following seconds were flooded with shock.
Perhaps most pressing of all the questions running through my head: what was this wiener dog doing panting in my lap? Did you know the standard size of Dackel was developed to scent, chase, and flush badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature was developed to hunt rabbits? Needless to say, I’d been taken down by a wiener dog. Elbow and ankle bleeding and feeling like a dog hating chump, I began the limp of shame back to my guest house. Twenty or so hobbles down the road I began to hear something over my left shoulder, I turned. The owner of the dog, probably having seen the entire fiasco, was laughing hysterically from behind her half opened gate.
I haven’t yet decided which is more humiliating, being taken down by one of the only domesticated dogs in Mae Sot, which happens to be a wiener dog, or the fact that the owner saw the entire thing.