Our Travelling Harrier and resident raconteur Chris Copus is back with some humorous and well-observed anecdotes sure to resonate with those of us who have encountered mutt mania/manís best friend on our various routes and had to adopt coping strategies on the hoof. However it does seem from this series of events that Chris possesses something of an animal magnetism (could be a duff consignment of Lynx, mate).
Iíve got to be honest Iím not a Ďdog personí.....
I really donít see the attraction. Cats are fine and Iíve got a soft spot for guinea pigs. Dogs, however, really donít do it for me. Iím firmly in the category of those who believe that runners and dogs donít mix. Letís be fair, dogs are pretty dumb. Thereís no plan ĎBí. If one chases you, turn the tables and chase them. Theyíre stumped. More at sea than Thor Heyerdahl. They havenít got a clue what to do. Should one catch you unawares there is always Ďheel flicksí. It takes a determined little blighter to get involved in that sort of action. Of course, owners will always tell you that Ďhe wonít hurt youí, or Ďhe only wants to playí. Well Iím not taking any chances and I certainly donít want to play with him. If this preamble makes it sound like Iíve always had the upper hand and that it is Chris 1 Dogs 0 let me disabuse you of that notion - nothing could be further from the truth.
Running along past Fachwen Pool, Iíve slogged up the climb from Aberhafesp and Iím relieved as its flattened out for a bit. Suddenly some maniacal mongrel appears from the garden of Pool Cottage and decides that yours truly looks pretty tasty. Luckily my shorts werenít damaged but the wound to my upper leg region (you know what I mean) was bleeding real blood. Not one to take that sort of thing lying down I bravely ran away. Twenty minutes or so later Iím at Newtown Police Station.
ďSo, where were you bitten?Ē
ďWhatís the usual place?Ē
Quick flash of the wound and itís back to the scene of the crime. In the Police car I apologise for bleeding all over the seat, apparently itís nothing compared to a typical Newtown Saturday night. Back at Pool Cottage the gentleman from the constabulary knocks the door. Maniacal mongrel goes absolutely bonkers.
Old geezer answers the door. ďDonít worry, he only attacks smaller people.Ē He laughs.
ďSo I understandĒ replied the constable indicating this particular smaller person. A warning was duly issued and itís off to the hospital for a stitch and a tetanus jab.
What is it I donít like about dogs? Canít quite remember. Oh yes, Iíve got it. Completely berserk terrier at the top of Lonesome Lane. Stupid thing was hanging off me at one point. I love tetanus jabs! I wish I hadnít wondered where that lane went. Or could it be the cross-eyed sheepdog in Mochdre? ď Just stop and stand still, then youíll be okĒ mum had told me all those years ago. What a pity nobody had told this little so and so. My calf registered an impressive canine dental imprint. I reckon that one was a total fruitcake. Provocation was there none. Then there was that time on the way down from Dolfor. A stupid mongrel, on a lead I might add, launched itself at me and ripped my vest. ďThat wasnít very niceĒ opined the owner. I donít know if he was referring to his dogís behaviour or the punch on the nose I administered to his charge. Either way it was me who had to shell out for a new vest.
Not all my canine encounters have involved me being attacked. Sometimes I acquire a doggy stalker! Upper Garth I think it was. A long way out of town ,anyway. A sheepdog manifests itself from behind a hedge. I pretend not to have seen it and carry on. It decides to match my pace for a minute or two. Then it passes me and stops. I ignore it and carry on. It repeats the process. So do I. So does he, me too. This nonsense continues all the way into Newtown and Iím starting to feel slightly responsible for this silly pooch. ďI know, Iíll head past the Police Station, drop him off and let the Gendarmerie sort him outĒ. A couple of minutes shy of my target and an aggressive sounding Alsatian vents itís spleen from the sanctuary of itís garden. My erstwhile companion turns tail and flees. I hope he did get back safely. It was a long way though.
Iíve managed to acquire a doggie stalker on many occasions. Iíve noted that attempts to Ďshoo awayí oneís unwanted shadow seem to be regarded as positive interaction. Ignoring them seems a better policy, although it is far from foolproof. I was followed down from Dolfor by a young mongrel who stuck with me until the College. He was momentarily distracted by the bright lights of the city and, ever the opportunist, I doubled back at seriously enhanced pace. Dog gone.
Another time I picked up a sheepdog type companion fairly early into a 90 minute run around Newtown one night. The weather was foul and we seemed to be the only ones braving the conditions. I ended up running round Vaynor until I could shake it off for a bit. The moment I couldnít see it I shot home. The last thing I wanted was to find it outside in the morning ( no analogies please, Ian).
Once in a while you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Martin and I were running towards town along Llanidloes Road one summer evening. Ahead a car stopped, waiting to turn into Trehafren. The canine occupant of the vehicle obviously felt the journey was complete and stepped out of the window. Cue frantic scrabbling of nails on shiny paint as it hung from itís lead while the car turned right. Quite how Martin and I ever completed that run Iíll never know.
"Are dogs dumb? Iíll let you decide.
Read the first story in the series of Runner's Tales - "A funny thing happened on the way to the Finish"