Yesterday, I had to stop off at a horse sanctuary because our family had won a raffle item that I needed to pick up.
I called ahead to make sure that it was a good time to stop by.
I approached the front door of the house and heard several dogs barking. I rang the doorbell.
Nobody answered, so I stood and waited.
The sound of the barking dogs got louder, and that’s when I turned and realized that dogs were running toward me: two had escaped through a side door in the house.
I was terrified. The dogs didn’t break their stride. All I could think of was the fact that I was considered a threat, and they were running towards me and barking ferociously.
These dogs were not going to be interested in sniffing my hand (I knew this much); I was in their territory and I knew that barking and bared teeth were bad signs for me.
Every instinct that I had was to communicate that I was not a threat, but getting away was not possible.
(It is very difficult to think calmly and rationally when two dogs might bite you at any second, I’ve learned. While your brain screams, “Escape!”, your general impression is that you cannot, in fact, escape and that trying to do so would be very painful.)
Instead, I tried to appear to be as calm as possible and kept my arms at my sides. I slowly turned my body very slightly away from the dogs in front of me and from their house behind me, angled my head down and to the side while I cast my gaze well away. I stayed that way for a LONG time.
Somehow, what I did worked: they backed down. They threw a few warning growls and barks at me as they walked away, but I seemed to have disarmed them — which is really bad news if the owners were keeping them as guard dogs, but good news for us — and maybe even taught Frances what to do should she find herself in the same situation.
It all happened very swiftly, and it seemed an awfully long time before the owner eventually appeared. Only then did I move! She apologized nervously, and I tried to get to my SUV as graciously as possible.
I didn’t talk about the incident as we drove off; if Frances had wanted to discuss it, she definitely would have. This way, I didn’t cause her more worries about “what ifs” and such.
I don’t know if my approach would work for someone else or if it would even work a second time for me. I just don’t want to have to do that again!