Theodore Roosevelt said “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” Now he was talking about the use of caution and non-aggression but being able to carry out threats if needed. Recently I’ve found the need to amend President Roosevelt's original phrase to “Run quickly and carry a bamboo switch.”
Since returning from reconnect (10 unhealthy days of sitting around, drinking too much beer, exhaustively overenthusiastic air conditioning, and an absolute minimal amount of sunlight) I’ve made a push to be healthier and to get out into the surrounding countryside of my community. Running, it seemed to me was the natural solution to both my goals.
I live directly on a busy freeway so getting quiet time is somewhat of a luxury. But, luckily for me, I also live quite close to several roads that go back into the maze of durian orchards and rubber tree plantations. These roads are beautiful, lush, green, and quiet. They are also overrun by stray dogs. Vicious stray dogs. Territorial, vicious stray dogs. Oh yeah, and a crazy black bird that repeatedly dive bombs me every time I run by (more on that later).
Every day I’ve gone out I’ve been chased by at least 4 different dogs, and on one unfortunate occasion all 4 at once. It had been my policy to follow President Roosevelt’s wise words to speak softly and carry a big stick. The only problem, the dogs weren’t afraid of me meekly telling them to get out of the road, and my stick? Well it broke in half the first time I tried to use it and thus was useful only for throwing at the dogs.
After the unfortunate pack chase (from which I was saved by a passing motorcycle) I changed my policy to running quickly and carrying a bamboo switch. You see, if I get a decent sprint going when I see a dog up ahead I can normally run past it before it notices me and decides to give chase. I also get the unexpected benefit of interval training. Additionally, I’ve taken to carrying a bamboo switch to use as protection. I’ve only had to use it once thus far (more later). It’s light weight, flexible, and looks less weird than running with a big stick.
Well my new policy has been working wonders! I haven’t been chased the last few times I’ve gone out and my hand eye coordination is much better than I thought it was. Remember that black bird I mentioned? Well a couple of days ago it attacked again. This time was much more vicious than previous attacks. This time it kept going for my face. Well, with my bamboo switch I was able to hit that stupid bird out of the sky and knock it to the ground.
I know it’s horrible to have hurt that bird, and I’m a non-violent dude, but if something attacks me first I’m going to defend myself. So yeah I swatted that bird with my switch, and I’m not sorry about it. Maybe now it won’t attack me when I run by innocently. Hopefully it told the dogs I mean business, that my switch isn’t just for show. Maybe now my runs will be the peaceful times that I was hoping for. I doubt it, but I can hope! In the meantime, I’ll continue to run quickly and carry a bamboo switch.
For my previous experiences with Thai dogs check out my post on being bitten: http://joelgarceau.blogspot.com/2013/02/who-let-dogs-out.html