One of the biggest challenges of traveling with Archie is dealing with the world’s street dogs.
Most of them are as harmless as mice. Except of course for the ones that aren’t, which gives our daily walks something of Russian-roulette quality.
And it doesn’t help that my escort is a high-voltage terrier with a Napoleon complex and a hair trigger. (Don’t tell Archie I said that.)
The first time we faced a street-dog problem in a big way was our first day in Kilyos, a sleepy Turkish village on the Black Sea, where we were unwinding after the looooong drive from Croatia.
Eager to stretch our legs, Archie and I emerged from the campground, which was tucked away in a semi-deserted residential neighborhood of infrequently used vacation homes punctuated by vacant lots.
The moment we stepped off the property, I noticed the dogs. Large ones. Dozens of them eying us through the dry grass, lounging brazenly in the intersections, and sauntering down the streets. I’m pretty sure several of them were wearing leather jackets and smoking cigarettes.
This fellow was not warm and fuzzy
Archie and I only made it about half a block that day.
I reconsidered our foray when half a dozen of the massive beasts took an interest in us and began moving in our direction. They scared the pants off me, because even though their body language was relaxed, their size and number meant Archie and I would be on the losing side of an altercation. With no one around, we were isolated and vulnerable.
And frankly, even if large dogs mean no harm, it’s still a problem.
When approached by large dogs, Archie can get a little, you know, snarly.
Which makes the large dogs want to, you know, eat him.
This guy didn’t take any nonsense
Later I spotted a Turkish man walking a glossy German Shepherd and carrying a 4-ft stick as protection. So I got myself a 4-ft stick and that made all the difference. From then on, Archie and I strolled with impunity. If particular dogs made me uneasy, I’d crack that stick on the ground and watch the offending mongrels scatter like cockroaches from the light.
I quickly acclimated to Turkey’s big strays that inhabit nearly every block of every city. Most were gentle giants in need of TLC, and often the meanest-looking ones needed it the most. But still, in every new place I’d carry a big stick until I felt comfortable with the particular dogs in that area. Because you just never know.
This dog lived in the Istanbul autogar where we spent three weeks freecamping. At first glance it looked mean as hell, but then I realized appearances were deceiving; he only looked aggressive because someone had cut off his ears. Poor baby.
This scarred pitbull roamed our street in Fethiye and used to follow us on walks. Fierce looking, she turned out to be a total marshmallow.
Starving and testy. Archie and I kept a wide berth.
I’m still sizing up our new neighborhood in Mexico (and I can’t find a good stick), so we’ve just taken a few weapon-free leash walks.
During our outings, there’s been lots of smack talk and barking from unseen dogs behind razor-wire-topped iron gates. (Once in a while they actually get out. Scary!) Also Archie’s had minor skirmishes with roaming strays, but nothing involving teeth or blood. Just hackles and the odd growl. Thankfully, nothing major.
Until today that is. Today we encountered a stray of the un-harmless variety, a menacing thug that blocked our way in the road.
He was the real deal. Rooted in place and his body hard, he glared at us with a flattened head and neck, his tail stiff and pointed straight down.
Now, my Spanish may be rusty, but I know this translates to:
“Hey lady. If you and your short, attitudinal, hot-house-flower gringo dog take one more step, you’re DEAD.”
(Note to self: Buy taser immediately.)
So my short, attitudinal, hot-house-flower, gringo dog and I did a 180 and walked away, thankfully in one piece.
Looks like I’d better get to work finding that stick.