Thursday, June 11, 2009

From Dog Bait to Chew Toy

I'd like you to meet Bud and Bella. Bud is a good friend of mine, and Bella, well, not so much. This is Bella. ---->

On this lonely Texas road near my house, I pass by the home of Bud and Bella whenever I take the short route to town. With a 55 MPH speed limit here, they don't chase cars. But it's game on! when a lone cyclist comes over the rise!

What excitement! What joy! Let's go for a run!

Bud loves the chase, and he has never threatened to bite me. He can run 24 MPH according to my computer. I can give him a run for the money if I am not fighting a headwind. We have a great time either way!

Sadly, Bella wanted more than a good run today. For months and months she has been content to just join Bud in a good run. Last week, she came in close to me and touched my leg with her nose, and I brushed her away with my hand.

Monday, (6-9-2009) to my surprise, she lunged and bit my knee. Some really good puncture wounds from her lower teeth. Ouch!

Being in a rural area, loose dogs are common. Nearly all of them will enjoy a harmless chase, with the cyclist a convenient rabbit. Some have a more sinister intent.

I like dogs. They are simple like me. I enjoy providing a highlight to their day. I make barking sounds at them. Sometimes, but only if I am protected by a fence, I call them pussy-cats. (They hate that!) I rarely have to discourage threatening behavior.

I carry a water bottle with me, and I keep ammonia in it. Only very dense dogs need more than two applications in their face to learn to keep their distance from me. For example, next door to Bud, there are two dogs that always observe my passage from the porch. They were very aggressive and would run into the road to attack me. One squirt of ammonia and they have lost any desire to get near me.

Further away though, there is this one aggressive dog that will always take a run at me if he is out. And he gets squirted every time! He backs off with just a whiff of the ammonia now though, but but he has taken ten in the face at least up to this point. Stubborn or stupid? It's hard to say.

I hope bella is a quick study. On the way home, Bella ran out at me again, and she got a good shot in the face. I last observed her wiping her face in some grass while Bud and I had a good run. I hope Bella will still come out to run, but keeping a more proper distance as well.

I could report all of the dogs I meet, and put a serious hurt on the homeowners, as Texas will force them to put up fences and euthanize any actual biters. I am reluctant to get a third party involved. For the very few problem dogs, ammonia seems to be effective and lasting deterrent. If I report Bella, then Bud will be confined as well, and I would miss him.

I spoke with Bella's owner on Wednesday, and they are as dismayed at Bella as I am. They allowed me to photograph Bella, but Bud would have none of it- he retreated under a shed and refused to come out. I will try again soon.

I will provide updates with edits to this post as events unfold. And a picture of Bud if I can manage it!


  1. Sounds like a pretty balanced approach. Is ammonia relatively safe? I know you have to use something...

  2. As I had an argument over just this question on recently, it caused me to review way too many technical papers on the toxicity and health effects of ammonia.

    Household ammonia that is sold to retail customers is a 5% concentration. The literature almost exclusively considers industrial strength concentrations of 25% or more, and uses hysterical language to boot. Even then, short exposure to high concentrations of ammonia are not likely to have any lasting effects.

    An open air splash of household strength ammonia is irritating and painful, but also harmless.

  3. I've heard lemonade works just as well.... and you can drink it.

    If a dog bit me, I'd report it though. Just because of one bite the dog will not be put down.

  4. Ouch! I hope you got some antibiotics for that.

  5. Back before the earth cooled, a cayenne pepper solution in a water bottle was my preferred deterrent. Plus, I could also use it as seasoning for bland snacks.

  6. Sorry all for the delay in approving your comments, my IP went down during Thursday's storm and it was not restored till today.

    I have tried a vinegar solution (Good for salads- to keep up with the new theme)but it was not as effective.

  7. Wow. It's dog month. I got tagged by an unscheduled St. Bernard about 10 days ago. It clamped down on my hand when I tried to brush it back from my ankle. The punctures aren't as bad as yours, though. I'd never seen the dog before. The owners said he stays in a fenced yard behind the house. He's just a big goofus.