Sooner or later, a bicyclist will run afoul of a dog. Man’s goofy, drooling best friend turns into a ferocious prey-chasing carnivore whenever he spies a bicycle approaching. Dogs that live on popular bicycle routes really seem to take to the sport.
My friend and I had several memorable run-ins with dogs on our cross-country ride back in 1984. My friend dumped his bike one day while he was trying to squirt a chasing dog with a water bottle. Another day, near <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Christiansburg, Virginia, two mongrels raced out of a yard and one actually bit into his rear pannier and tried to drag him to a stop.
We learned that squirting and trying to outrun them wouldn’t work, so we started shouting “Halt!” or “Sit!” This usually worked. Some galloping mutts would skid to a stop on the pavement to obey the command.
When we reached Missouri, Lazy Louie, the gent who operated a donation-only bicycle campground on the Trans-America route between Hartville and Marshfield, gave us some advice. He said to stop and point your tire pump at the dog. “It looks like a shotgun to the dog, and most dogs around here know what a shotgun can do.”
What do the experts say? The Dog Owner’s Guide suggests “Do not try to outdistance the dog on a bicycle. Stop, dismount, and stand with the bicycle between you and the dog. Without something to chase, the dog may lose interest.
If you can stop and get off your bike with a snarling dog inches from your ankles, go ahead and try this. I’m going to keep looking the dog in the eyes and shouting a command.