Photo by Rene de Haart
The Rhodesian Ridgeback, or African Lion Dog, is a large muscular hound; ferocious in the hunt; they are brave and vigilant and possess considerable stamina. Without enough mental and physical exercise they can become high strung and unmanageable. This breed needs a firm pack leader. Meek or passive owners who treat the dog like a human rather than a canine will have a hard time controlling this breed and may also cause them to become combative with other dogs.
Okey-dokey then... What the heck are my neighbors thinking putting the leash of their ninety pound, menacing, cross-eyed Ridgeback in the hands of their cute, blonde seven year old daughter?
This is my third encounter with this dog who obviously wants to harm my dog. My dog is in her teens, a Lassie look-a-like who is now rocky on her feet. If she were human she would be using a walker and would be every child's favorite Auntie. We have developed our own special technique for patting Diva on one side whilst supporting the other against our legs so that she doesn't keel over.
The first encounter with our canine nemesis,he was out with his adult mistress, properly on-leash. As we crossed paths a few feet apart he lunged without warning and went for Diva, grabbing her neck and frightening her mightily. Thanking goodness for a dog with a full protective fur coat I stuck around long enough to hear The Mistress say "So sorry. He doesn't usually behave like that". This I have since learned to be untrue or severe amnesia. There are accounts of other residents whose dogs were attacked in the past.
Second encounter was on a quiet stroll around the block. We had passed Devil Dog's lair and were around the corner and out of sight. Diva is stone deaf. I heard the scrabble of claws on tarmac and the jingle of a dog tag, turned at the last minute and the cross-eyed bastard was right there, in Divas face barking and intimidating. I think the lack of a reaction on Diva's part probably saved the day. I always use my "Outdoor Voice" in a situation such as this and his shock at someone louder than him and being face to face with a social dog bought us the few seconds it took for his owner to coral him once more. "I didn't think anyone was around" she whinged, meaning that she had let this untrained Baskerville wannabe out loose on purpose. Mercy me!
Yesterday late afternoon Diva and I took our habitual constitutional. The cute blonde kid had a friend over and they were both driving the bright pink dune buggy, electric car that she had received for Christmas. The street is a quiet loop, practically a cul-de-sac, no danger from traffic. The Dad was outside with them, a glass of red wine in one hand. We chatted for a moment and carried on. As we rounded the return portion of the loop I caught a glimpse of the Ridgeback and when my eyes followed the leash back to the tiny hand of the little girl, I knew we were in trouble. Dad was momentarily out of sight, which didn't help matters.
Diva and I stood stock still in the hope that our lack of movement would calm the other dog's prey drive. Yeah, Right! The caramel creature went from zero to full launch in a second, despite the valiant efforts of the little girl to hang on. She was calling for her Dad whilst I was positioning myself in a semi-crouch in front of my dog; like a pro-tennis player ready to go left or right at a moment's notice.
It is hard to tell the line of attack intended by a cross eyed dog but his initial trajectory was a straight line dead ahead. I have a secret weapon, in addition to my "Outdoor voice" yelling "Off!" and "No!" repeatedly in the firmest, deepest tones I could muster. We have a leash that rolls out to twenty-five feet. It is housed in a sturdy blue plastic housing about eight inches across. It has a handle and feels very familiar in my hand. I have clunked bad dogs up the side of the head before. It feels good and gets their attention. They often choose to never bother us again.
By the time the Dad appeared from his garage his dog was running back towards him. I hadn't actually connected with him but the yelling and the wild swipes of my blue paddle must have convinced him I was serious. I was.
The image of that dog, in that "Oh Shit" moment just before the attack gave me a very disturbed sleep last night. I refuse to stop using a section of the public thoroughfare in deference to a family who will not believe that the dog they love should be trained or restrained. He can do no harm in their eyes.
I am going shopping for pepper spray. They will probably complain that I am harming their dog. "Ya think?"