'Argh!' How do you write a short sharp scream? (Of course there's a forum on this on Google. Makes for interesting reading if you're into that sort of thing, like yours truly, the real Judith Middlemarch, or is it Jill, wife of Trevor?) No matter, this little piece begins with a brief, loud - I was wearing headphones - cry of terror.
I stood, stock still, neither flight nor fight would work here. Instinctively, my hands shot in the air, heart banging in my chest.
Just prior I'd been on a naturally occurring chemical high. See, I'd garnered the motivation to get out of bed on a cold, albeit sunny winter's day to do my six kilometre constitutional. This is a combination of brisk walking alternating with marginally quicker jogging.To give you the picture, when Al walks with me he thinks it vaguely amusing to outpace my jogging with his leisurely stroll. I'm not winning any medals here, but if I can keep at it for another forty years I could enter the world masters and break a record like Man Kaur. Maybe not.
Anyway, nearly five k into my routine, those endorphins coursed pleasingly through my system. I'd been listening to a podcast of Joe Jackson being interviewed by Alec Baldwin. I've had a deep, abiding love for Joe Jackson since the late 1970s so my morning constitutional had thus been elevated to even greater heights of emotional healing. My local park is a lovely treed, quiet - on weekdays - ovalled space atop a hill with splendid city views. Joe's interview finished with a few bars from Breaking Us In Two. I was in heaven. Pulled out my phone to choose some music to get me through the last k. Chose Frank Sinatra's I've Got You Under My Skin with its stirring middle eight, that always evokes my dad, and continued slow jogging to half way round the oval. Next in my mix was (I've had) the time of my life. No apologies for my eclectic tastes. At that stage I was running up the incline on the other side of the oval, relishing my freedom, completely lost in my own thoughts.
That's when a slavering, snarling jowly raven black beast charged me, its teeth bared, hence my scream.
'Clara,' - I'm not kidding - her owner called lightly, scooping to pick up a ball with his little tosser on a stick. I started to walk on but Clara lunged at me again.
'Call her off!' I insisted, hands now clutched under my chin.
'She won't hurt you,' was his dismissive reply as he surveyed me like I was some mental defective in my black running gear, tweed cap pulled down over my ears and a bum bag hanging around my hips.
'That's very easy to say,' I replied, 'but I'm terrified.' And I was. My previous joy had drained out replaced by too much adrenaline and a bit of fury.
I've been menaced by dogs before. Aged about three, I remember being bitten by a bull dog. Mum was pushing me in a pram at the time. She took me into a butcher's shop and he applied a bit of butter to my bleeding knee. Don't know what happened to that ugly hound.
Jeeze, who hasn't had a bad experience with a dog? Not so long ago this rat-sized dog who lives down our street had its teeth bared, and was snapping within half a hand span of my exposed ankles. Same comment from the owner standing nearby apparently enjoying the entertainment. 'She won't hurt you.'
Got bailed up by a pit bull terrier once in our own back yard. The dog had breached the low fence. Its owner was on her side pinning sheets on her rotary hoist. 'Sally!' - such lovely names - she uselessly called for her dog, 'She won't hurt you, ' she said, continuing to adjust her sheet. I wasn't so sure, Sally, growling menacingly had me in a Mexican standoff, daring me to move. Not sure what would have happened if Maria hadn't climbed the fence and hauled Sally off by her collar.
My own experience tells me that some dogs, who may not attack those who've established dominance over them, will attack anything they perceive as weaker. My parents had a couple of Dobermann Pinschers. Soft as brushes, according to my mum. But I've seen both of them turn on our own toddlers when those kids were getting a bit annoying. My dad always sided with the dogs.
Anyway, Clara's owner really bugged me this morning. I'm sure Clara is a lovely pet. But seems to me that if Clara has any inclination to threaten a stranger, she should be on a leash.